Looks like Matt Cutts and the Google team are at it again. If you haven’t heard yet, Penguin 2.1 was just released yesterday (10/4/2013).
Before we get into how this has affected niche sites let’s briefly talk about the effects of Penguin thus far…
April 24 2012 – Google released the first major change to their site ranking algorithm that affects link building. This change was dubbed the “Penguin” update and it affected 3.1% of search queries. This update was revealed by Matt Cutts to specifically target sites where spammy links were sent to the home page.
May 26, 2012 – Penguin 2 was released. This update affected 0.1% of search queries.
October 5, 2012 – Penguin 3 was released. This update affected 0.3% of search queries.
May 22, 2013 – Penguin 4 (also known as Penguin 2.0) was released. This update affected 2.3% of queries and it began a deeper dive into spammy links that went beyond the home page. It analyzed internal pages and attacked sites that directed link spam to these locations.
October 4, 2013 – The brand new Penguin 5 (also known as Penguin 2.1) was released. This new lovable furry creature is expected to affect 1% of search queries.
Penguin 2.1 and Niche Sites
People around the web are already claiming to have been hit by this new update. So what does this all mean for those of us who build niche sites?
While many sites have been hit, others are still going strong.
Looking around, here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
When searching for the term “best adjustable dumbbells” (the keyword Tung targeted on CloudLivingJourney.com), Tung’s site (bestadjustabledumbbells.org) still shows ups on the top ten along with another niche site which has now moved up to position #1.
**Note: The following images are screenshots taken from within the Long Tail Platinum keyword tool (affiliate link).
Here are a few more examples where I’ve seen a niche site ranking at the top 10 still (click on the thumbnails to open the images in a new window):
Great! So Penguin 2.1 doesn’t affect niche sites and that means everyone is clear to start building like crazy, right?
Before you start doing that, there are a few things you may want to consider…
Remember the site that Spencer Haws ranked at the top of Google in 62 days (bestsurvivalknifeguide.com)? Currently this site is no longer on the first page of Google. However, four other niche sites are still ranking on the top 10 of google for best survival knife.
So why did Spencer’s site drop and not the others? Could it be that the Negative SEO attack that he received a month into the project finally kicked in? I’m not certain on this, but if this was the case, then it would really be a shame.
Here’s my conclusion about Penguin 2.1 and niche sites:
Niche sites are not dead, and they never will be. However, as with the constant Google trend, we all need to continue to focus on creating great content.
The is a reason that people say content is king. This is because, in the end when all the dust settles and Google has finally release Penguin 532, the sites that will remain sitting on the throne are the ones that provide highly valuable content to the end reader.
Furthermore, I presume that Google will continue to grind down on spammy link building… So if you’re building a blog network, try to make sure that the site you’re linking from is relevant to your money site.
I still see too many sites out there where links are coming from completely unrelated niches. You might still get away with it for now, but try not to be surprised if one day your link juice becomes drained.
Overall, Penguin 2.1 is a scary animal, but in the end it’s nothing that I haven’t already come to expect. My niche site projects will…continue 🙂
My question to you… If you already have a few niche sites up, how are they handling this update?
If you haven’t yet built a niche site, are these updates scaring you from starting? Let me know in the comment section below.