This is what happened to 18 blackhat sites after Penguin 2.0

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This is what happened to 18 blackhat sites after Penguin 2.0

According to Matt Cutts there was a data refresh and update to Penguin which Google is now internally referring to as Penguin 2.0. This new iteration Google admitted in a February webmaster hangout video that Penguin runs more regularly than stated, I believe it runs every one to two months judging by some of the videos from Google and events they speak at. You can find Matt Cutts post here.

So what does this mean for SEO?

Well first we should look at the results of Penguin 2.0. Google stated that 2.3% of queries had been affected which is a large chunk of the internet.

This table represents eighteen sites, all of which engage in Blackhat SEO tactics such as automated spam of spun content, blog networks, directories, SAPE links, buying links, 301 redirection and more. I used an extremely accurate keyword tracking service called Rank Ranger to document changes in SERPs on a daily basis. Click here for a free trial of Rank Ranger, its certainly one of my most essential tools.

Change Number of sites
Dramatic increase 10
No dramatic change 3
Hit by Penguin 2.0 5

Negative PageRank domino effect

In the past year Google has hinted that negative PageRank exists. When a website is identified as spam, its PageRank may be devalued in such a way that any sites it links to now lose some power from their own sites as negative PageRank is passed. Two years ago the idea of negative PageRank would be ridiculous, but we now know the aggressive stance Google has taken, so would it be so much of a surprise really?

With this in mind it makes reasonable sense to conclude that all sites to some degree may have some negative PageRank flowing into their site. This means that there is in essence a penalty of sorts on nearly every site which has spam pointing at it, because some of those links will be negative pumping PageRank. If this is true, then there is a huge domino effect occurring on each update which makes ranking changes very difficult to make sense of and sites which didn’t appear to have any penalty are making huge gains in the SERPs.

Blackhat is alive and kicking

My most blackhat site, an experiment which involves hundreds of thousands of the lowest quality links has been close to the top of Google for six weeks now. It has never experienced any drops indicating a penalty, but yesterday with the launch of Penguin 2.0 it was catapulted even further onto the first page. Yet, a site which engages in occasional minimal spam has been hit. Google’s updates do not make logical sense, but this is because it is an imperfect system. There does not seem to be a single technique to recover sites and no blackhat techniques seem to have stopped working.

You have to start thinking of every site as an individual rather than label it as “using X link technique and still ranking”, as the table shows, you can use the same techniques on all of your sites and still experience an almost illogical and random fluctuation.

Green shoots for Penalized sites?

Now for the good stuff, for me the most interesting part of this update has been an obvious removal of penalties to some of the sites I work with. Several had been hit by Penguin and Panda at some point in the past two years and I worked extremely hard to fix some of them but data refreshes flew past and months went by without any movement. Yesterday several sites gained hundreds of positions across a range of keywords resulting in what for me is the first time i’ve observed a full reversal of a penalty. Could it be that the algorithms have been tweaked to be more relaxed? We already know that Matt Cutts stated Panda will be relaxed and we could be seeing these effects now. I think we can start taking penalized sites a little more seriously if we now have more opportunity to fix any problems according to Google.

What about SAPE?

As a network, it seems SAPE has not been hit. As individual sites in the network, yes some have been hit. I don’t believe Google can hit the SAPE network in one big swipe, but what they will do is continue to chip away at it and pick off individual sites continuously. SAPE is a large network, but it is the same as any other network in the fact that it lists websites to rent links from. The day that Google takes SAPE out as a whole is the day all blog networks die as a link source, which is likely never.

So we should not be worrying about SAPE being hit, but what you should be asking yourself is if the site you use it on is worth taking the risk for. At some point nearly every link farm blog gets hit by a manual rater. Its not a case of “if” it gets hit, it is case of “when”.

What do you think of Penguin 2.0? Were you hit by it? Post your comment below.

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Agent Blackhat
Written by Agent Blackhat

I am an individual, I run this blog and these are my thoughts, experiences and experiments with search engines and online marketing.

22 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    May 23, 2013

    You mentioned that Penguin has seen a shift from manual updates to integrated refreshes. Where are you getting that data? Are you sure you aren’t confusing Panda and Penguin? Panda switched to integrated just last March, called “Panda Everflux”.

    Interesting case study you have there. I love your bio, by and by.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      May 23, 2013

      There are a few videos and statements from Matt Cutts which explain it.

      http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/penguin-2-0-rolled-out-today/
      “This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0 internally. For more information on what SEOs should expect in the coming months, see the video that we recently released.”

      He also stated this in one of his recent videos. This would be the last manual refresh as Penguin 2.0 is setup to run autonomously alongside the other algos but will not refresh quite as often at the start.

      **Edit* i’ve been looking for my source for this information but I can’t find the video anywhere. This will teach me not to document each link. If I find it i’ll post it.

      Reply

      • Avatar
        May 23, 2013

        I just rewatched that video. I didn’t see anything to indicate Penguin going to integrated refreshes. Is there another video that does so?

        Reply

        • Avatar
          May 23, 2013

          I may have to retract my statement if I can’t find the video. I just watched it again and you’re correct.

          Reply

        • Avatar
          May 23, 2013

          I found the video and it comes form a Google employee at an event. http://youtu.be/wuGlnRuKyF0

          Maybe this information has not come up yet and not well know. I had taken it as though I was late to the party.

          Reply

    • Avatar
      May 23, 2013

      I found it, check this video out about what was said.
      http://youtu.be/wuGlnRuKyF0

      Reply

  2. Avatar
    May 23, 2013

    What leads you to believe Josh Bachynski is an authority on the topic? I don’t see anything on the web indicating he is a Google employee, and I didn’t hear him quote an authoritative reference in that video. From what I have gathered from extensive research on Penguin hit web sites and other authority leaders in the industry, Penguin is still a manual refresh act – and there is no chance for recovery until the next refresh occurs. In other words, all the cleaning of poor quality backlinks you do will not take effect until the Googs updates their algorithm manually.

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    May 23, 2013

    Interesting! I missed that bit. Transcription:
    John Mueller:
    “They re-run Penguin regularly”
    “not daily or weekly”
    “but on a fairly regular basis”

    This is the first I’ve seen of any Google employee mentioning regular updates in Penguin! Thanks for the digging, sir/madam.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      May 23, 2013

      Thanks, i’ve corrected the article to reflect some inaccuracies. I’ve heard it a few times now. In future I will save and compile my sources better. Glad you know now.

      Reply

  4. Avatar
    May 23, 2013

    So here is the final conclusion from my office. Penguin is a separate entity which runs regularly (less frequently than weekly but more frequently than monthly), not an integrated part of the algorithm. Officially announced manual refreshes occur when larger changes are rolled out to the Penguin flux. Good discussion here, thanks for the open forum.

    Reply

  5. Avatar
    May 24, 2013

    I saw a video that said they continually run penguin but not quite weekly and that was a google employee

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    May 24, 2013

    My site also came back 2 days ago to no 45 from about 500, it was hit on apr 24 last year. I’ve just checked again and it’s gone back down, weird huh?

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    June 03, 2013

    While Google is brilliant technically and is the best at what they do, the problem isn’t just that so-called blackhat sites get hit, but completely above-board, 100% honest sites get hit anyways by these Panda updates. False positives screw legitimate businesses and give them no incentive to stay honest. I don’t think that businesses can do anything about this, but I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of businesses are depending entirely on the whims of Google. This is why there has traditionally been such an emphasis on SEO. I think the key to managing this is to diversify in terms of traffic sources so you’re not entirely depending on any one avenue. There’s a wealth of advertising options: content-marketing, search ads, cold calling, display ads, email marketing, social ads, and even buying Facebook fans as seen from the hundreds of companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com. I think that more businesses should be trying out different types of marketing so they’re not just depending on Google or any one company, but have ways to get traffic and sales from multiple avenues. I think this is the wisest thing that any business can be doing so their fortunes aren’t entirely at the whims of Google’s faceless algorithms. I’m not 100% critical or trying to be unfair to Google, but its definitely something that’s a problem when the algorithms are wrong and good businesses are harmed and bad ones are rewarded.

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    July 04, 2013

    what will be happened, and how do check penguin 2.0 and panda effect for website, why anyone ranking drop suddenly without got a message from webmaster account

    Reply

  9. Avatar
    August 03, 2013

    in your test site list. which blackhat methods can easy hit penguin-2-0. close to the top of Google .
    looking forward hear from you.

    Reply

  10. Avatar
    August 28, 2013

    Dude, I’m loving your blog. Great content and writing style. I have used SENuke with nice effect in the past but decided to give up on “black hat” link building about a year and a half ago because I worried that I would harm my sites. Instead I went on to build about 40 blogs in the same niche with tons of very well written content. It’s a slow climb through the SERPS. Some sites do great and some don’t. None of them have any links pointing at them so it seems to be a total crap shoot in terms of Google ranking. They may have longevity and long term value but I get a little impatient waiting for the $$$ to roll in sometimes. Reading your content has inspired me to stop playing nice and throw up some sites and spam the living crap out of them. Bought a bunch of expired domains with decent link profiles yesterday and ready to do some 301 redirects and other techniques. Keep up the awesome work!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      August 28, 2013

      Thanks for the kind words :)

      I noticed you subscribed to the forum but you haven’t registered yet? If you can register and message me on the forum I can get started with the review and you could join our community. We are a tight nit group though, so hopefully your progress with the 301 can contribute some value, we’ll help you get there too.

      Good luck.

      Reply

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