On Friday, September 23rd, 2016 Google announced that the Penguin algorithm had released its newest update. This is big news for site builders and managers who have been affected in the past. Just as Google did with Panda when it became part of the core algorithm, Penguin now works in real-time.
The Penguin filter was first released in April of 2012 as a standalone program. The goal of Penguin was to catch sites deemed to be using spammy link building practices and penalize them. This algorithm helped to discourage many low-quality link building techniques that were popular at the time.
This update also means that Penguin will join Google’s core algorithm. It will be added to over 200 other signals in the main algorithm. Penguin 4.0, as its called, is the sixth major update Google has confirmed. Google also stated they will not announce or confirm future updates for either Panda or Penguin.
There are two big changes that come with this update.
Penguin now runs in Real Time
Since it’s release Penguin updated on a very sporadic schedule. Because it ran outside of Google’s core algorithm it had to be manually refreshed. This led to the list of sites impacted by Penguin going months without getting updated. Because of this, penalized sites could wait a very long time for link fixes to count in Google’s ranking algorithm. Now, Penguin will update on the fly.
Now that Penguin is running with the rest of the core algorithm data should update when pages are recrawled or reindexed. Webmasters can now use a handful of programs that will ask for Google to crawl a site. It is possible penalties will now disappear in hours, not months. On the flip side, gaining a few spammy links could quickly lead you to be penalized.
Penguin is more granular
Google was not exactly clear with this section of the update. The general belief though is this means pages will be evaluated on an individual basis. This will be a change from earlier versions which looked at domains only.
This will be interesting to watch as data becomes available. Sites with only a few pages utilizing spammy link tactics could see an overall boost in traffic. On the other hand, sites that received penalties from the original algorithm could receive even more penalties now.
What does this Update Mean?
Many, many site owners felt a direct impact from Penguin 3.0 and could instantly see improvements in traffic. By the time you read this, hopefully, you already have. Analyzing the effect of Penguin will be more difficult now, though. Site owners will now need to go through the site page by page.
If you know that your site has a Penguin penalty looming now is the time to fix it. There are a handful of tools online that grade links by spam score. Once you’ve identified your spammy links, use “disavow file” to get rid of anything with a high spam score. Within days you should see a big increase in organic traffic.
Overall, this update is not a surprise to anyone. Google will continue to take steps to guarantee the results that are ranking on the first page are of the highest quality. As long as site owners produce high-quality content and acquire links in an authentic way the Penguin penalty will not be a concern.