Penguin 3.1 as a recovery algorithm?

Even though this post might probably bring about a ton of s..t from the SEO community, I still think it is only fair that I publish it. Google might have been playing with webmasters for quite a while now; but this time, they went a little bit too far in my opinion.

Penguin 3.0 was released last Saturday, yet 90% of webmasters I have been in contact with are yet to recover.

Four of my clients made it to the SearchMetrics winners list on the 19th of October, 2014. Yet, I am still uncertain about the nature of the recoveries. Mostly because two of them never had Penguin issues, but clearly Panda ones and Panda recoveries.

This is the screenshot of the SearchMetrics Winners list dated October 19th, 2014 ( a day after the Penguin 3.0 roll out)

“Penguin 3.0” winners

Let’s take a look at the top 22 (couldn’t screenshot more) SEO Winners (absolute) on October 19th, 2014 in the USA

And the Relative view:

Most of the websites in the winners sections (relative and absolute) don’t have a Penguin history…

Still in doubt? Look at the top 10 SearchMetrics absolute winners list. The target should be any website that rapidly recovered, but recorded a significant drop around any previous Penguin date.

Most likely, we would only find Penguin 2.0 or 2.1 recoveries.

Date reminder 馃檪

Penguin 2.0 – May 22nd, 2013

Penguin 2.1 – October 4th, 2013

SearchMetrics Winners – Absolute











As you see within top 10 recoveries there is no single Penguin 3.0 recovery case.

Lets take a look at the relative view:

SearchMetrics Relative winners









As you can see, there is no single Penguin recovery in the 20 websites presented above. I confirmed that all the positions were checked on October 19th, 2014. Also, I’ve got Google Webmaster Tools Access and Google Analytics access, as well as position tracking for some of the websites on the top 100 winners list. Traffic and ranking changes correlate with the data from SearchMetrics.

So what happened?

I can only speculate, but from the recent announcement mess at Google; I would say that something went wrong.

Let me remind you. First, John Mueller said that Penguin 3.0 is rolled out completely and most probably, another will not be rolled out again till next year.

A day after that, Pierre Far re-phrased it:


Therefore, we had two statements saying opposite things. That can only mean its either John Mueller wasn’t informed about the nature of Penguin 3.0, or that they’ve changed their minds after recording really weak results. I think that the second option is much more realistic.

How about all the websites that didn’t recover yet?

This has been a well-kept secret over the last few days, but most Penguin websites didn’t recover yet. Just Google any Penguin 2.1 hit website and check the visibility in SearchMetrics. All the cases I checked didn’t recover, even though they’ve cleaned up the links and got new, natural ones.

There were some confirmed recoveries and yes, some of my clients recovered too. As I mentioned, I have four of my clients in the top 100 winners across different markets, still two of them never had Penguin problems. Also, the scale of all four domains are much lower than I would expect. I would say that most of the mediocre recoveries were caused by spammy sites leaving the top 20 after being hit or simply that recoveries are not fully processed yet.

My blog had ~8000 visits to my first Penguin 3.0 analysis post in the last 4 days, in addition to publishing the first detailed Penguin 3.0 analysis on Link Research and I am not saying that to brag (maybe just a little bit). However, I’ve had an enormous amount of frustrated webmasters contact me to ask “Why didn’t I recover?”. At first – my answer was – “You got to audit your backlinks and make sure that your audit was good, etc.”. After that, I started looking into the backlink profiles and there were people who literally spent the whole of last year, cleaning bad links and getting good ones with good content. Of course, there were a lot of junk too which Google diagnosed right.

So in my opinion, if there is any logic left at Google, they will re-run the algo and release Penguin 3.1!

The predicament shown here is based on the facts as I see them and it is also the best logical explanation in my opinion. However, with the mess currently going on at Google, only the future will determine if the ones doing the hard work will eventually recover.


  • 23 October 2014

See all articles by Bartosz G贸ralewicz

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