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Penguin 2.1 and Hummingbird Google Updates

What are Penguin 2.1, Hummingbird?

Google fine-tuned its search algorithm in early October, calling the update “Penguin 2.1,” raising the bar on quality standards for backlinks. This comes on the heels of a complete algorithm overhaul in September 2013 known as “Hummingbird.”

In short, these updates are:

  • Punishing websites with low-quality backlinks (Penguin 2.1)
  • Punishing websites that “mirror” each other from the same owner (Penguin 2.1)
  • Catapulting websites with high-quality backlinks to the top of search results (Penguin 2.1)
  • Providing users more direct answers to their search queries (Hummingbird)

Why did Google make this change?

According to Google, the Penguin 1.0 (April 2012) and Penguin 2.0 (May 2013) updates were not stingy enough. Meaning, many websites that were gaming the system were still not being caught from previous algorithm updates. The October Penguin 2.1 update punishes website owners that have what Google now considers low-quality links pointing to their website. Google is essentially telling website owners to identify and remove bad links; EverSpark will do this for you.

What does this mean to me?

EverSpark’s link-building methods have long exceeded Google’s standards.  However, if you had a former SEO company that sent low-quality or poor, spammy backlinks to your website, you could be affected.

In addition to Google’s new threshold for low-quality backlinks, this update appears to have affected businesses with multiple websites that are optimized for similar keywords. Google wants business owners to have one big website instead of several websites that are targeting the same search terms. This allows a fair playing field for web owners.

How will I know if I was affected?

Your account manager will let you know.

My rankings dropped. What are you doing about it?

EverSpark will perform a comprehensive backlink analysis for affected sites to determine which backlinks meet Google’s new standards and which backlinks do not. Once the list of poor backlinks is created, EverSpark will contact the website owners sending the backlinks to request removal. Once the removal requests have taken place, EverSpark will perform a “disavow” of any remaining backlinks. This means EverSpark will report the remaining low-quality backlinks to Google and request the bad links be ignored when evaluating your website’s link quality.

In addition, there are many proactive adjustments that can be made. These adjustments are dependent on your needs. Speak to your account manager for more details.

Why not just disavow right away and save time?

Google wants website owners to reach out to other website owners manually — multiple times — prior to performing the disavow. Google also requires documentation of website owners’ outreach. EverSpark will document all communication with other website owners during the disavow period and submit to Google in their required format.

After you clean up the backlinks, how long until my rankings improve?

The answer varies, but typical bounce-back time is 1-100 days and is completely at Google’s discretion. EverSpark will perform an extensive “cleanup” of the backlinks and report that cleanup to Google. In addition, we will continue providing your website with HIGH-QUALITY backlinks that show Google your site has a natural, quality backlink profile.

In the end, the website owners that clean up their backlinks will rise to the top. EverSpark will ensure your website gets cleaned up.

OK, my rankings did NOT decline … now what?

Nothing. EverSpark’s link-building and Internet marketing techniques follow Google’s standards. You’ll continue to see improvement in your search rankings.


Google’s algorithm changes are causing temporary setbacks to website owners around the world. In the long run, everyone benefits as site owners comply with the new standards and provide users with a better experience. Those who respond favorably will be rewarded; those who don’t will be left behind.