Penguin 2.0 May Not Be Done Just Yet
June 28th, 2013 by
We’ve been watching Penguin 2.0 and its effects, and as a team we have noticed some fluctuating data that suggests the algorithm has not quite settled in yet. In another blog post, I put it out there that rankings are not everything, and they are not the primary measure of success. Ranking reports have known flaws, but they can be used as a weather vane. When we look at the ranking weather for a few clients, we see some ups and downs, clearly with some effect from the most recent Penguin, but it appears that the players on Google page 1 are still moving around more than a month after the rollout.
When we look at a few examples, we see the musical chairs being played on page 1 with nobody being safe and comfortable for very long. We’re watching rankings for a plastic surgeon in New Jersey for the term “rhinoplasty New Jersey.”
Here’s a summary of his rankings hopping all over. His biggest drop was on June 18th:
The same client for “breast augmentation New Jersey” had more subtle changes, but they are meaningful.
So it looks like he got a little hit from Penguin 2.0, but may be rebounding. We have done nothing out of the ordinary for this surgeon to move his site from 10th to 3rd in just nine days, so we make an assumption that Penguin is still adjusting.
Another example in ranking fluctuations for “Columbus allergist” is in a doctor’s rankings seen below. His biggest decrease was on June 3rd vs the guy above who got the hit on June 18th:
Rankings Aren’t Everything!
Rankings are not the only measure by which we watch successes and failures. Organic traffic is another layer of data, and in some organic traffic trends, we see noticeable changes around June 3rd then again around June 18th.
The client represented in the chart below is a cocktail bar in the South. They saw a dip in organic traffic after May 22, but they enjoyed an unexpected bump in early June (the traffic dropped off again after that early June peak, but what I want to know is what’s behind that weird little bump up earlier on?):
The next example is a traffic bump around June 18th. This client is a completely different business on the west coast. We see a little effect from Penguin, then a weird spike:
And Then There Are Other Data Too
It gets a little fuzzier when you start looking at Bounce rates and Time on Page and these data in Analytics. Who’s to say that these increases or decreases are a direct effect from Penguin? You could argue your site is having better or worse quality traffic because of ranking and where your site now shows up vs where it showed before Penguin. You could argue lots. All I know is that 3 of the 4 clients mentioned above saw an improvement in Bounce rate after Penguin.
So … what?
I’m not convinced that Penguin 2.0 was a one time algorithm update, it did its thing on May 22nd, and we’re experiencing the good or the bad or the indifferent. I think it’s still shaking out, and we may still see a few odd spikes or odd drops in ranking or traffic or some other data. We may have a few more weeks before websites settle into a relatively comfortable placement on page 1, and it is only then that we can claim some clear understanding of the full effect of Penguin.
And because Penguin 2.0 is still reconfiguring, it may not be time for drastic action. If your site is experiencing some definite ups and downs, then yes, you should look at your backlinks quality, the anchor text quality, internal links, etc. All of this stuff is covered in many other blog posts. You should have been long ago working on authoritative backlinks and building up your social cred. But it’s not time to throw up your hands, and just Disavow everything. It’s not time to scrap your website and start with a brand new domain and design. Take some time to digest what’s going on before bulldozing ahead.
What I would really like to know is if anyone else noticed definite odd fluctuations around June 3rd and June 18th. Or if you noticed unusual changes at anytime after May 22nd. Leave a comment, and let us know.