SEOs have waited for the Penguin 4.0 Update officially announced on September 23 for almost 2 years. That’s indeed a long time especially for the victims of Penguin 3.0 back in October 17, 2014. But what many SEOs or webmasters may not have been aware of, is the fact that the penguin update algorithm currently being rolled out started shaking things up in a big way as early as September 3, 2016. Penguin 4.0 SEP Update Sept 2016

That’s about 3 weeks before the day Google made the official announcement, which means penguin now as part of Google’s core algorithm has already been rolling out. So the current penguin update partly explains the increased volatility of SERPs experts have noted for the better part of September.


What is the impact of penguin 4.0 update?


As penguin rolls out, the impact on site rankings may delay for some days or weeks, depending on the niche you are in. Sites that Google crawls more often may have already noticed the impact on their rankings, but sites not crawled frequently may have to wait for some extra days or weeks. But the way the current penguin 4.0 update will impact on site rankings will be different from the way past updates did. The update is unique primarily due to the following reasons:


  • It is now part of Google’s core algorithm
  • It will take place on real time basis
  • It is now more granular


The above points outlined Google’s own announcement on the release of penguin 4.0 update. So what exactly do they mean, considering we already have a variety of interpretations out there?


Penguin as part of Google’s core algorithm



From now on penguin will be processed within Google’s core search algorithm on a real time basis. The current update announcement is the last because penguin will be constantly running. No more penguin update notifications will come from Google in future because penguin is now real time. If and when spam signals are detected, penguin will immediately adjust the rankings of the affected site. On a page by page basis.


Penguin will run real time


Previously, Google had been taking months or years developing then announcing penguin updates on dates they chose to. But now that will not be happening because penguin is going real time, so it will always be working to ensure spammy sites and sites obtaining their links from them get penalized on real time basis. That also means if you get spammy links removed will also be rewarded as soon as Google crawls your site pages for indexing. No more waiting after making efforts to deal with any kind of spam associated with your site, be it links or content.


Previously when penguin filter penalized sites for spammy links or content, they had to wait until next time Google rolled out another penguin update. They would only hope to rank high on the SERPs once again after the refresh of a penguin update, that’s if they had done enough to do away with any type of spam that got them penalized in the first place. At least now with penguin running real time, it is possible to clean up spam and get sites ranking again without the long wait. But it’s important to realize that site rankings now may also be quickly dropping as soon as significant spam signals are detected. So a constant review of content and links would even be more important than ever before.


Penguin is now affecting page by page basis- granular


Penguin will now be devaluing spam by adjusting rankings based on spam signals. Individual pages of a site will be penalized rather than the entire site. Previously penguin updates penalized the entire site equally for any page linked to spammy content or sources of links. Interpretations on what Google actually meant by stating penguin will be “more granular” have been varied, leading to assumptions that if only certain pages are penalized then the rest of the site is almost completely safe. But that couldn’t be further from the truth because Google has clarified to some experts that it doesn’t mean only pages are affected. Of course if more pages on a site are caught for spam them definitely site rankings could be noticeably affected.


Have do you tell if penguin update affected your site?


It may be more difficult to tell how or if a site has been affected as a result of the latest penguin update. This time the penguin effect will be more at the page level rather than sitewide, plus changes will also be taking place on a real time basis. Different spam scores for different pages on a site at times could level out in a way that doesn’t necessarily contribute to a drop in rankings of the site, but if most of the pages are spammy then a drop must be noticed.


So there will still be need to make use of the disavow file, if within the next few weeks you can’t tell exactly how penguin has impacted on your site rankings. But you still have to remember the fact that penguin is just one of the more than 200 signals that Google uses to determine rankings. So you have to make sure you don’t overlook the impact other important search ranking factors could have on your site rankings.


Focus on content quality


Creating great content to earn high quality links will continue to be even more important. Links remain as the most important ranking factor, but now with penguin going live it means you must get the right links from the right places (it was always about that). Great content (who are we kidding- you gotta promote the living day lights out of it as well) will earn you the most natural links as a result of the value other web users and publishers perceive in it. You need to have on your site the kind of content everyone is willing to recommend to others, and that’s how the content pages will end up getting linked backed from authority sites.


Creativity in your content strategy will also earn you quality guest posting opportunities, so you can end up earning quality links in a variety of ways and avoid spam. If you publish important data based on research more often, journalist from top news sites, authority publications, blogs and others will become major sources of your links. So focusing on quality content can go a long way towards avoiding penguin penalization and continuously improving rankings.