We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the rollout is now complete. About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice…
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.
What Google is doing is trying to correct weaknesses in their algorithm that provide less valuable results to users. That is certainly a worthy goal. Part of the method to do so is sensible, it seems to me. They update to devalue links that they had been incorrectly valuing too highly. This lead Google to over-rank pages (from the value to user perspective).
The second part, that Google likes to avoid talking about this way (and amazingly gets away with) is to punish sites that Google thinks have made Google’s job harder. So in this step, what Google does is intentionally provide worse search result to Google users in order to hope the threat of doing so will scare web sites into following practices that makes Google’s job easier.
As I have been saying for years, Google can punish their users by providing intentionally worse results to users, because they do not suffer significantly for doing so. If/when other search engines (DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Yandex…) start taking away significant amounts of search traffic, this practice will almost certainly end. Google will find ways to improve weaknesses in their algorithms without punishing those using Google to search for content.
This update doesn’t affect published page rank significantly. Google might, punish sites it is upset with by reducing the public page rank but it is questionable if that action affects search results (in seems to probably just be a visible intimidation strategy). I am just guessing here, I don’t know of Google providing an explanation of this practice.
For some sites that Google punishes they do intentionally place them lower in the search results. In such an instance for example, Google will take a site that by the algorithm finds of great value to the searcher, say the 3rd best page and Google punishes the searcher, along with the site, by showing less worthwhile sites to the searcher and putting the 3rd best match is say 33rd place or 53 place or whatever.
I think users of Google want Google to provide search results that are the best match for them, not search results that are the best matches for them that Google isn’t mad at for some reason or another. So removing the 3rd result that was a lousy choice by Google to put in 3rd place – great. Removing the 3rd results because Google is made at the site – not great.
Google says they punish sites that do things they don’t like if those sites make changes to make Google happy (that in no way help those going to the site) then Google says they will stop intentionally not providing that result as high as they believe it should be (based on the quality of the match for the searcher). Google talks a lot of the punishment of the sites doing things google doesn’t like (using keywords too often, linking in ways Google doesn’t like, etc.). I don’t recall them ever talking about the result that has to follow which is they are punishing their users every time they do this.
Related: Google Falls Victim to Google’s Confusing Dictates, Punishment to Google and Google Users Likely