Well, there’s been a lot of discussion out there in Webmasterland after Google belatedly confirmed that it had indeed pushed out a Penguin update on Black Friday weekend, of all times. But how has this slow, ongoing rollout played out globally? SEO expert Philip Petrescu has pulled some interesting bits of data together.
Writing in SearchEngineLand.com, Petrescu concedes that only Google knows the indisputable truth about the effects of its updates. But his SEO company, Advanced Web Ranking (AWR), scours the web with its unique “Google Algorithm Change tool” for whatever changes become visible after an algorithmic adjustment, working its way out of the dark as far as possible with that data. The tool picked up very distinct ranking shifts after Penguin 3.0 began wandering the Web in October, with changes peaking at 4.5 on the tool’s scale on 18th and 19th October.
The update appears to have affected pages that lay beyond the second page of results most heavily. Only 1 in 10 of the top ten pages saw changes that bounced them by five positions. But when the top 50 results were taken into consideration, the effect was nearly four times stronger at 36.2 per cent. Even so, the update didn’t result in many really dramatic changes: just 7.7 per cent of websites that ranked on the first results page plunged by more than 10 positions (websites ranking lower down are more volatile by nature anyway).
Interestingly, websites beyond the US were affected differently by Penguin 3.0. While the damages slapped sites immediately across the pond, the peak effect was experienced later in the UK on 20th October. Sites in Germany appear to have emerged completely unscathed. AWR has so far only processed data for the UK and Germany, but the comparisons over how sites and content visibility were affected make for some interesting reading.
The bottom line, insofar that any Google outsider can discern it, seems to be this: Penguin 3.0 affects sites differently depending on what industry they’re reflecting, the rankings they currently enjoy (i.e. top ten or lower down) and the competition they’re sharing the results pages with. Probably lots of other factors, too, but only Google will know that.