Q: What is the difference between an algorithm update and refresh? Was the recent Penguin 3.0 an update or refresh?
A: I have seen a lot of people including the SEOs confused between Google algorithm update and refresh. So, what’s the difference between the two? I am glad that you asked.
An Algorithm Refresh
It simply means that Google has not modified, removed, or added new signals to the already existing algorithm. It is just running the refresh to improve the search results and deliver better user experience.
We know that certain webmasters try to game the algorithm to rank higher on search engine. Google runs the refresh so as to improve the quality of search results and give preference to the websites that are adhering to the webmaster guidelines. However, if the refresh itself is not enough to fight spam, an update is the next in-line.
An Algorithm Update
It means that Google has modified, added, or removed some signals with the hope that the changes will be able to fight spam more effectively. The factors and calculations used in the algorithms are new.
Penguin 3.0 – An Update or Refresh?
Penguin 3.0 was a slow refresh that rolled-out for weeks and impacted 1% of the English search queries. It had the exact same signals that were used in last update in October 2013. As a result, we saw fewer reports of hits and most of the sites impacted were those who had recently created bad links.
As told by Pierre Far, the refresh was designed to help the websites who had cleaned up gain ranking and demote the sites with newly found spam.
When will be the Next Penguin update?
It will take a few more months for the update to come. The holiday season is around and we believe that Google does not want to create too much fuss. So, expect an update perhaps in 2015 only.