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Why is Google Flip-Flopping on Penguin & Panda Updates?

Would it really be so difficult for Google to let webmasters know when their sites have run afoul of the latest Panda or Penguin updates?

And would it be too much to ask the world’s largest search engine company to run these algorithms on a regular, scheduled basis so sites that were impacted by them could get in compliance and back in business?

The answers to these two questions depend a lot on when you ask them. A few months ago, Google said it was converting to a state of nearly continuous Panda and Penguin updates. That, theoretically, meant that publishers who took a Panda hit could correct their mistakes and be freed from Panda/Penguin prison in short order. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened.

In a recent posting on, SEO expert Danny Sullivan pointed the inconsistencies of Google’s statements on updates, and the impact their flip-flopping has had on publishers’ ability to do business.

For starters, Sullivan points out that Google’s Penguin/Panda updates haven’t been updating in anything resembling, “real-time.” Those updates have been sporadic at best and, oftentimes, they’re run at the same time. That means publishers have no idea whether they were hit by Penguin or Panda or both.

Google claims that it doesn’t, and will never, notify publishers as to whether they’ve been hit by an update because it presents aid and comfort to large-scale spammers and scammers. Sullivan points out that SEO frauds operating at that level are hardly relying on Google for anything (except access to potential victims).

So will Google ever live up to its promise of continual updates and quick compliance opportunities for web publishers? Though the company likes to hedge its bets, the words of a Google spokesman Sullivan spoke with speak volumes:

I think both of those algorithms [Panda and Penguin] currently are not updating the data regularly. So that is something for both of them, where we kind of have to push the updates as well.

If someone at Google thinks the algorithms aren’t updating continuously, you can rest assure that they are not. For now, web publishers will simply have to live with the inconsistencies coming out of the world’s biggest search engine.