Google confirmed on Sunday to SEO news site Search Engine Land that an updated version of its Penguin algorithm update was rolled out on Friday 17th October.

What’s different about Penguin 3.0?

In principle, the new version of Penguin is much the same as previous versions – it targets sites using poor quality linking tactics such as blog networks, anchor text overuse or other manipulative linking patterns and reduces their rankings.

The new Penguin filter is different from the older versions in that it allows for more frequent ‘refreshes’ – updates to the list of which sites are affected and which are not.

This means that websites which have been affected by Penguin could recover more quickly than was previously possible. Until now, sites hit by Penguin have had to wait many months for an algorithm refresh, but this should now happen much more quickly.

What’s happened?

Industry-wide, the reaction to Penguin 3.0 has been muted so far. Some people have reported recoveries for sites who had been affected by Penguin 2.1 in October 2013, and others have reported rankings drops for sites known to have been using poor quality linking tactics.

However, the overall consensus seems to be that this update is much more moderate than previous Penguin rollouts. Some of the insights we’ve found useful so far are listed below:

• An inbound.org discussion thread highlights recoveries for some: http://inbound.org/discussion/view/anyone-noticed-penguin-movements-today

• Branded3 give some initial insights from their data: http://www.branded3.com/blogs/google-penguin-3-0-damage-report/

• Bartosz Goralewicz gives some examples of early winners and losers: https://goralewicz.co/google-penguin-3-0/

How did we do?

Naturally, at Silverbean we’ve spent this morning checking our clients’ performance to get a feel for how the Penguin 3.0 rollout has affected us.

To help reduce the risk of being affected by Penguin, we’d been conducting regular link profile reviews for all our clients since well before Penguin 2.1, disavowing any links which we believe might have the potential to cause problems. As a result we were pretty confident that none of our clients’ websites were at risk, but any major update has the potential to throw a curveball.

For Silverbean, it looks like Penguin 3.0 has been a bit of an anti-climax – early results show that so far the effect has been very muted – clients have seen fluctuations in their rankings, but overall traffic levels are unaffected for the most part. Our assessment of this is that the changes are most likely caused by other sites increasing or decreasing, rather than any direct impact on the sites we’re monitoring.

Obviously we’ll continue to monitor the situation, as there’s the potential for further movement in the coming weeks as major algorithm changes like this are often followed by ‘aftershocks’.

What does this show?

As algorithm updates mature, they tend to become more sophisticated and better targeted – compare the outcry after the first Panda update (http://moz.com/blog/googles-farmer-update-analysis-of-winners-vs-losers) to more recent iterations, which barely caused a ripple.

The fact that Penguin is developing into an even more sophisticated algorithm is great news, as it means less chance of site owners being hit by false positives or heavy-handed implementations. The prospect of more frequent refreshes in future will also be a relief for many who’ve waited a year for the latest update.

As more results and insight is released, it’ll be interesting to see how the latest update responds to controversial issues such as negative SEO, and whether it goes far enough to address the spam tactics that are still common in the industry. It’s early days, but so far we’re treating Penguin 3.0 as a win!