As if webmasters and online marketers hadn’t been shaken up enough over the last year with Google’s release of two major changes to their search engine algorithm, known as Panda and Penguin respectively, a prominent Google spokesman has just dropped another ominous bombshell. In comments made as the keynote speaker at last week’s popular Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco, Google Search Quality Team engineer and Web Spam team manager Matt Cutts said “you don’t want the next Penguin update” and that the next few updates would be “jarring and jolting” for webmasters and marketers. After his comments were reported the next day on one popular site Cutts seemingly tried to downplay his remarks in a response to the site’s comment section which I’ve decided to reproduce in it’s entirety:

“I wasn’t saying that people needed to overly stress out about the next Penguin update, but I’m happy to give more details. I was giving context on the fact that lots of people were asking me when the next Penguin update would happen, as if they expected Penguin updates to happen on a monthly basis and as if Penguin would only involve data refreshes.

If you remember, in the early days of Panda, it took several months for us to iterate on the algorithm, and the Panda impact tended to be somewhat larger (e.g. the April 2011 update incorporated new signals like sites that users block). Later on, the Panda updates had less impact over time as we stabilized the signals/algorithm and Panda moved closer to near-monthly updates. 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”

Feel better now? Google says their changes are entirely focused on offering a better product for users. Critics say that Google is self serving and trying to force websites into operating in ways that profit Google and making things hard on smaller businesses. Bottom line, with 66% of the search market, online marketers are going to have to jump through Google’s hoops. White hat SEO, natural links and fresh, valuable content are the name of the game for the foreseeable future.

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