Several Webmaster Trend Analysts at Google, namely Zineb Ait Bahajji, Gary Illyes and John Mueller, confirmed over the weekend via their personal Twitter accounts that the changes webmasters were seeing were in fact due to a core ranking algorithm update, instead of the more expected Penguin update.
While changes could be seen as early as Friday, January 8, as the weekend progressed it was clear this would be a much larger scale update than Penguin alone. After reaching out for confirmation regarding the changes, Google set the record straight via Twitter that it was a core ranking algorithm update as many soon came to suspect.
Though Google previously confirmed a similar update several months ago in May 2015, generally it’s rare that they go so far as to announce and confirm core algorithm updates. Because of their secrecy, it’s viewed as quite the surprise to many for Google to comment publicly on the changes that webmasters were noticing and how it related to the core algorithm update.
While it was a big deal for most to find the changes from the algorithm update on the weekend, webmasters are still patiently waiting for Penguin, an update that is expected later this month after having experienced a delay in release. Version 4.0 of Penguin was expected to be released by the end of 2015, however, the date came and went without any word from Google. Anticipation is still high for the final scheduled Penguin release, after which, Penguin updates will occur automatically in real time. Because of the timing of the release of the core algorithm update, it’s no surprise that many webmasters and SEOs were confused when it eventually arrived, having thought the changes would most definitely be Penguin-related.
But while the timing coincided to suggest a Penguin update, the signs just weren’t there. The changes experienced on Friday and throughout the weekend seemed to be more core search related, or even perhaps Panda related. With Google’s official confirmation, however, we now know it was a core search update potentially including Panda since it is now entwined within the core search algorithm.