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Penguin 4.0 – Google’s Latest Update and What You Need to Know


Last month, Google rolled out its most recent search engine algorithm update. Dubbed Penguin 4.0 (if you aren’t familiar with SEO, Google usually names its  updates a cute little animal name “Penguin”, “Panda”, you get it.), Gary Illyes of Google says this is one of the smoothest updates Google has ever rolled out, meaning: little glitches in terms of the update and how it runs.  But, what does it mean for your website and search engine rankings?

Here are the Top Things You Need to Know about Penguin 4.0:

1. Penguin is Built to Fight Spam

As a legit website owner, you’ll like this.  Rolled out in 2012, and last updated in October of last year, the Penguin algorithm is built to identify spam sites that have slipped through Google’s filters and anti-spam policies.

2. It’s Real-Time

One of our personal favorites.
As Gary Illyes of Google’s Search Ranking Team explained:

Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time.

Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed.

With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we re-crawl and reindex a page.

This is great news if you are updating your SEO or trying to recover from a penalty.  Before this real-time update, you had to wait for an update and often weeks, sometimes months would go by before the positive changes made to your site were recognized.  Now, with Penguin data refreshing in real-time, you and your website will be recognized for your good SEO practices and changes in a much quicker turnaround.

3.  It is now part of Google’s Core Algorithm.

Before now, Penguin functioned on its own.  Now, Google states that it is, “part of our core algorithm”, which means it works with over 200 signals that can impact your rankings.

4. It’s Granular.

This one is a little more complex and even had to be explained by Google to some of the top SEOs.  This means that Penguin views pages and websites as separate entities.  Before, a site using spammy techniques would be hit with a site-wide penalty.  Now, a more page specific approach has been applied.

Penguin 4.0 allows pages and sections of a site to be looked at on their own, as opposed to impacting the whole site.  This makes it easier to single-out penalized pages.

Particularly important with bad linking and anchor text.  If you have one bad page with low quality links, the penalty will likely only impact that page itself, instead of dropping the rankings on your entire site.

5. Google will make no more announcements of Penguin Updates.

Google stated that it will no longer comment on future changes and refreshes to Penguin now that it has become part of the core algorithm.


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