Penguin 4.0 – Finally Released

Google has officially confirmed that the long-awaited Penguin 4.0 update is being rolled out. Webmasters and SEO professionals have been anxiously waiting for this for a long time – since December 2015. As with all Google search updates, it is sure to bring good news for some websites, and bad news for others.

So what do we know about Penguin 4.0?

Penguin now operates in real time

It has become part of the “Core algorithm.” This means that it is one of the 200 signals that Google uses to rank websites when you perform a search.

What we call “Penguin” is an extra filter designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spamming systems might not detect. First rolled out in 2012, it has previously operated on a periodic basis to help clear up the search index.

When the Penguin filter was run, it would capture sites with spam links and they would be penalised, reducing their organic traffic and visibility. The list of sites affected by Penguin were periodically refreshed.

So if you have worked hard on improving your site, removing bad inbound links and improving the quality of links, Penguin could take a lot longer to acknowledge that and reward the site by revoking the penalty as you’d have to wait for another refresh. The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17, 2014 – any sites hit by it have waited nearly two years for the chance to be free!

With Penguin 4.0 this all happens in real time, so penalties might appear more quickly but the recoveries will also be fast.

As Google said in its post:

“With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page.”

So monitoring your link profile and analytics very regularly is absolutely essential.

A more granular Penguin 4.0

Google also said this new Penguin algorithm is more “granular.” From its post:

“Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

What this means is that it has the ability to target specific pages or keyword searches, rather than before when it acted like a blacklist. So if you inadvertently have content subject to a penalty, it might not affect your whole site. Exactly how targeted it can be will be clearer when we start seeing the effects of the penalty.

This is the last Penguin update that Google will announce

There will not be any more Penguin announcements, as it is the part of the core algorithm now which is in a continuous process of refinement and adjustment by Google.

Changes will start happening soon

This real time Penguin 4.0 is not fully live yet and is still rolling out. Google didn’t say how long it may take to roll out but the likelihood is that it should be fully done in a couple of weeks. If Google regularly revisits your pages, then you should likely see any changes quickly. If Google comes to your site more infrequently, it may take longer.

Past Penguin Updates

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on October 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 4.0 & real-time on September 23, 2016

Our Recommendations

  • Regularly monitor the backlink profile of your website.
  • Make sure that you take the essential actions if any low quality, irrelevant links are found linking to your site.
  • Create great content and work towards creating relationships which would evolve in natural links, rather than just building links for their own sake.

teclan have a wealth of knowledge in both positive SEO and Google penalty removal. Contact us today on  01463 898 043 to discover how we can help your website get the best out of Google and Bing.