There was quite a bit of chatter over Thanksgiving weekend regarding Penguin 3.0 and it’s continued wrath; we saw reports from our friends at Search Engine Journal and also Search Engine Land about traffic fluctuations and rankings going up and down. Imagine my surprise as I was sitting down with my family, celebrating thanks and stuff, and I hear this. Traffic and ranking fluctuations? On Thanksgiving? Doesn’t happen - Google wouldn’t. We’re bros.

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Amongst the panic, telling Aunt Eleanor that I had to leave dinner early because Google decided to play hardball on my day off, we come to find that this “chatter” is nothing more than a continued rollout from Penguin 3.0. Google confirmed:

The Penguin rollout is ongoing, and this is just the effect of that.

Touche Google. Penguin 3.0 launched on October 17th, putting the rollout at just over six weeks old.

What I find most interesting about this whole panic is that Matt Cutts has been on leave since July and is extending his leave into 2015. This heavily signals, to me, that Google isn’t wanting webmasters and site owners to be so heavily focused on search engines and thinking of new ways to dodge bullets.

Instead, and as said 10,000 times before, search engines want you to focus on enhancing your site’s user experience and engagement. If you work for the user, not for the search engines, then you are fine when algorithm updates, refreshes, and rollouts are happening. Take a deep breath.

That said, if you are seeing your site being particular volatile during these times, check your content:

  • Can you enhance it?
  • Could you make it better?
  • Did you stuff keywords and over optimize?

Beyond that, check your backlinks:

  • Are they natural?
  • Did you buy links?
  • Is your anchor text over optimized?

Focus on what you can fix and enhance, and going forward, focus on your user.  Don't focus on Matt Cutts or relying on updates to push your site’s strategy. It's not going to help you in the long-run.