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Matt Cutts Warns of ‘Jarring’ Penguin Update

I think we're going to need a bigger boat.

Matt Cutts is warning that the next Google Penguin update will be, “jarring and jolting,” for SEOs. Given his normally cryptic choice of words, this statement is setting off alarm bells throughout the SEO world. Cutts made his statements at the SES San Francisco show last week and has since clarified, but not backed away from, his original choice of words.

Cutts’ original comments in response to a question about the next Penguin update which prompted him to say, “you don’t want the next Penguin update,” and that, Google engineers have been, “have been working very hard,” on it.

What’s in the Update?

So what exactly do Cutts and his Webspam team have in store for the unsuspecting SEO world? No one knows for certain but one important clue is his use of the word update rather than refresh. An update normally involves new signals and usually causes widespread chaos in the SEO circles.

Is your site getting penalized or it actually an update? Check out What’s the Difference Between an Update and a Penalty?

Cutts clarified his comments in a message to SEORoundtable’s Barry Schwartz (which you can read in its entirety here) goes on at length about the differences between refreshes and updates before getting to the really juicy stuff, specifically:

Likewise, we’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet.

In short, he’s reiterating the fact that the next Penguin update will be significant and will involve new signals. Whether those new signals tighten the previous focus on inorganic links or something else entirely is not known.

Preparing for the Next Penguin Update

Whatever the next update is bringing it will almost certainly reinforce what we already know about Penguin. Anyone who isn’t interested in being “jarred” or “jolted” by this latest update needs to their site Penguin-proofed as quickly as possible.

We’ll be following this story closely and will provide updates as they become available.

What are you doing to prepare for the next Penguin update? Share your strategies in the comments section below.