Since as far back as 2003, Google has refrained from rolling out major updates during the holiday season, giving those in the SEO industry a chance to relax and enjoy the festivities without fear of having their Christmas break ruined by algorithm update.

However, this year Google seems to be embracing their inner Grinch, with reports that the much anticipated Penguin 3.0 update is continuing to rollout well into the holiday period. It appears the ceasefire is over…

Penguin 3.0 so far

After officially launching on October 17th, the Penguin 3.0 update has continued to cause ranking fluctuations over the past six weeks, with the largest subsequent jolt to the SERPs taking place on Thanksgiving Day in the US (November 27th). Since then, there has been reports of further rollouts followed quickly by rollbacks with many webmasters noticing a reverse in the previous fluctuations.

This has left many webmasters on the edge of their collective seats, eager to see if their backlink clean-up efforts post Penguin 2.0 will yield the lasting rewards promised by Google’s Quality Guidelines. For the moment it looks like we’ll all just have to keep monitoring the SERPs whilst Google tinkers under the hood of their search engine.

A New Breed of Penguin?

Interestingly, back in October, Google’s Pierre Far labelled Penguin 3.0 a ‘refresh’ rather than a whole new algorithm, which essentially means they’re re-running the Penguin 2.0 algorithm rather than implementing a complete rebuild, albeit this time with a drawn out roll out. This had led to speculation in the industry that the Penguin algorithm will now update on an ongoing basis rather than every 12 months or so (the time between Penguin 2.0 & 3.0).

These ongoing updates could prove to be a double edged sword for SEO’ers with more opportunities for the Penguin to attack your site, balanced out by increased opportunities to get out of ‘Penguin jail’ if you have engaged in some questionable link building tactics.