Google has officially announced that the Penguin 4.0 update is now live and part of the core algorithm. This update has been forthcoming, with the launch date initially set for November 2015, before being postponed in January and April this year. The last major Penguin update occurred in October 2014, which was almost two years ago. Penguin 4.0 is the 7th iteration of the update, and will be the last manual rollout as it is now part of Google’s everyday ranking signals.
Google launched the Penguin algorithm with the primary goal of identifying sites using low-quality backlinks to manipulate search results. This included the method of purchasing links or obtaining links through irrelevant sources. The first Penguin update occurred in April 2012, and has since drastically become improved in devaluing sites that employ black-hat SEO tactics to cheat Google’s guidelines.
There are three new features to be aware of with the latest Penguin update.
Previously, the Penguin algorithm was a manual process, meaning that the algorithm was periodically refreshed when it had to serve its purpose. If a site was penalised as a result of the Penguin algorithm, it would have to wait until the next update for the chance to make changes and get re-evaluated. However with Penguin 4.0, the data is refreshed in real time, so changes will take effect faster as it is now part of Google’s everyday core ranking algorithm.
Rather than devaluing sites as a whole, the latest Penguin update has the ability to devalue spam links on a page to page level. The algorithm may impact specific pages on a site, or even a particular section of the site, whilst other pages are left fine.
Penguin has been integrated into the core algorithm – which means that it is no longer its own entity. We will not hear of any further Penguin updates in the future.
Google is in the process of launching this update, which means not everyone will know if you’ve been hit by Penguin or have been a benefactor of the update. No timeframe has been given on when it will fully be rolled out, but the impact of any change will likely correlate with how often your site is being crawled.
It’s likely that many webmasters have not seen the results of the update as of yet. As noted above, it could take time before the effects of Penguin are clearer given that there are many sites that will need to be re-crawled.
Keep a lookout on your search result pages across your major keywords. You can do this manually by searching on Google, but the use of ranking tracker tools will certainly aid this process. Talk to our team at Quantum, who can guide you through all the steps involved when it comes to getting the best out of your off-page SEO. If you’re still concerned, and can’t remember the last time you did a backlink audit of your site, we’ve got our guide on how to do your own link auditing.