It couldn’t be true, could it? Google couldn’t really have pushed out a Penguin refresh that hit on Black Friday weekend of all times, could they? They’ve repeatedly insisted that they refrain from pushing major updates during busy holiday periods. So the strange search patterns that webmasters were noticing over the weekend must have been down to something else, right? A mistake or some peculiar bug maybe?
Not so. On 1st December, Google confirmed to SearchEngineLand.com’s News Editor Barry Schwartz that the changes webmasters were detecting were indeed down to a Penguin 3.0 refresh that first began waddling its way through online content six weeks ago.
The changes were largely recoveries by sites that had been hit by the previous Penguin update (Penguin 3.0), according to SEO specialist Bartosz Góralewicz in his blog on 27th November. But it wasn’t until 1st December that Google deigned to issue this statement to Schwartz:
“The Penguin rollout is ongoing, and this is just the effect of that.”
Short and sweet, but not especially informative about why the rollout is still going on (as Schwartz notes, this is unusual). On the evidence so far, it does seem predominantly to be a reversal of the rollout that kicked off in October, which initially impacted around 1 per cent of queries.
It’s not clear yet how much of that has changed as a result of the Black Friday weekend refresh but people don’t seem to be complaining. You might expect howls of protest from those impacted by a Google update on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. But the effect of this one has been a pleasant surprise for those clobbered by 3.0 (because of the reversal of the 3.0 rollout, Schwarz has dubbed the November 27th refresh as Penguin 3.1).