This penguin can make you dance!

Google Penguin 4.0 – real-time update

googpengGoogle has been rolling out several algorithms to make sure that the results they produce for their users are genuine, accurate, really useful and spam free.

We have discussed previous Google updates in other blog posts, but the entire SEO community is discussing and waiting in anticipation the arrival of the latest – the Real-time Penguin Update.

As we all now know, Penguin affects websites with low quality backlink profiles. The quality of the back linking sites is what really matters here, outweighing the quantity.

The next Penguin update to be released (4.0) will be the real-time version. This means that the algorithm will continuously update in real time so there won’t be any further releases of Penguin updates after Penguin 4.0. Instead, as Google detects spammy links on a website, it may be impacted by Penguin, but at the same time, when those spammy links are removed and Google’s indexer picks up on that, the site will no longer be impacted by Penguin.

Why is this important?

In the previous Penguin updates, webmasters and site owners had to wait for weeks and months to get Google to see their disavow request and have some impact. Penguin 4.0 means that as soon as you disavow a link, Google will be able to process it very quickly, and you may recover from the penalty just as fast; but the other side of the coin is you may also get penalised just as fast.

The release is great for webmasters, SEOs and site owners who have worked towards cleaning up their backlink profiles after being affected by the previous Penguin updates, and who have been doing things the correct and ethical way. This is bad news though for black hat webmasters and SEOs.

This update was expected to be released by the end of 2015, but the recent news is that it has been postponed to sometime in 2016. Barry Schwartz confirmed that the highly awaited Google Real Time Penguin has been delayed until next year. Exact words from the Google spokesperson to Search Engine Land were, “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.”

There is lots of discussion about this delay and the possible reasons behind it. One theory is that this being the most important time of the year for many businesses, getting impacted by Penguin now could have a devastating effect. Besides, Penguin 4.0 will not be perfect and it would be a shame to see businesses lose out on a lot of customers because of forces outside their control. If the algorithm were perfect and bug-free, and really only negatively impacted spammers that would be one thing, but what are the chances of that?

It is said that there won’t be any subsequent penguin updates after Penguin 4.0, as it will be constantly evolving. As soon as Google discovers the links to your site, be they bad or good links, the Penguin algorithm will analyse those links in real time, and ranking changes should happen in almost real time too.

So what can you do to prepare for the update and keep penalty free in 2016?

Regularly audit your backlink profile. If you have not done it for some time, then now is the time. (I understand there are so many other things to do to keep up with Google that this task can seem to be repeatedly, but dangerously, pushed on to the back-burner.)

Things to look out for:

Anchor text
Make sure that your backlink anchor text is not an exact match to the keywords you are targeting.

Sudden spikes and too many referring pages
Sign of site wide linking, which is a spammy links signal for Google.

Disavow links
If you decide to disavow links, follow the correct procedure as we have described here or hire an expert.

Optimize your internal links
External links often get the most attention, but internal linking structure should be optimised too. These are links that you have control over; you can help dictate to Search Engines which pages have higher importance and which pages are thematically related to one another.