Penguin 4.0 – Is It Impacting Your Site

September 28, 2016

After years of anticipation and a fair amount of excitement last Friday, the visible impact of Google’s new Penguin 4.0 seems to be underwhelming–so far. The consensus is that, in fact, there has been no impact. The new release of Penguin 4.0, confirmed last Friday on Google’s blog, means link penalties will be refreshed in real time, so that in theory, ranking corrections and improvements to a site’s rankings will happen quickly and not require months or even years of waiting.

Is it a kinder, gentler Penguin? Anyone whose total site was penalized by Penguin 3.0 for a spammy link profile would hope so. They’ve had to wait until now to get over that last round of Penguin filters which struck in October 2014, but given the lack of visible change several days later, the answer to that question is still unknown, except to say keep checking your data.

What’s A Penguin 4.0, Anyway?

If you’re new to SEO, you may wonder why everyone was so concerned about this announcement. Penguin first appeared in 2012 to filter out sites that used mainly spammy link strategies. Any offenders would be penalized–that is, the entire site–and the negative status would stick until the next Penguin filter ran. Sometimes, a site would sit in limbo until a future update, waiting for months or even years to be released. The new real-time refresh should make Penguin a more granular ranking factor, meaning that pages or sections can be singled out for punishment, rather than penalizing a whole site.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is a history-making change, as it is expected to be the last Penguin update, ever. Putting it in perspective, that first Penguin rollout was in April of 2012 and there have been an additional six, including this latest. Google indicates that Penguin is now an integral part of the core ranking algorithm and its real-time nature means that changes in the algorithm will happen continually.

What About Recovery?

There’s a big question raised with every Google update, namely, when do sites recover from past penalization? The answer remains an unknown, but opinion in the SEO-verse leans toward an expected tough-luck attitude. If your site was penalized for spammy links and other sins, chances are removing the offending links does not guarantee recovery, even with Penguin 4.0. This step was not addressed in Google’s announcement, leading to extensive speculation and a wait-and-see stance from most commenters.

Is Your Site Affected?

This is the time to closely monitor your analytics and see how your website is being affected, if at all. If you had past negatives from earlier Penguin updates, you may begin to see improvement in your results. Have you done a lot of link building to your site? Take an extra-close look to see if your results are affected, up or down.

The complete rollout may take several more weeks to become fully implemented, so you’ll want to continue monitoring. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the latest changes to the Google zoo and need to know the best next steps, we can help with expert toxic link analysis and removal strategies. Our team will combine the best tools and their deep knowledge base to keep your site at the top of the search engine results, right where you want it.

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