Introducing Penguin 4.0

Introducing Penguin 4.0

Introducing Penguin 4.0

Only recently, Google AdWords employed key changes in its Keyword Planner. Webmasters and SEOs should again be ready for a significant change as Google Penguin just got updated. This web spam slayer will spend its notoriety against spammers and black hat SEOs without a rest as it is expected to work in real time, 24/7.

Penguin 4.0 is Finally Here!

Google announced on September 23, 2016, the newest addition to its core algorithm, the Penguin 4.0. Penguin is nothing new to SEOs  and webmasters. The world saw the birth of Penguin 1.0 way back in 2012 when it was first launched to sift out web spam that slips through the search engine results page (SERP). What makes the latest news the most talked-about topic among online marketers is that it is now integrated into the core algorithm of Google along with Panda who first joined early this year. 

Before delving on the changes that Penguin 4.0 will introduce to SEO, and things you have to expect, it pays to understand what Penguin is, from its beginning, and the updates it underwent.

A Brief Update History of Google Penguin 

A Brief Update History of Google Penguin

A Brief Update History of Google Penguin

What makes Google, the top search engine site is its seriousness in providing useful and relevant information to users. They do this by employing google algorithms that rely on over 200 factors or “signals” to identify the sites that qualify to appear on the results page. Signals include the quality of the content, keyword relevance, PageRank and Penguin--an algorithm that penalises web spam.

Penguin 1.0 | April 2012

On April 24, 2012, google rolled out“an important algorithm change targeted at webspam”, later named Penguin. So what does Penguin do to ensure quality results from the SERP?

Penguin Targets Web Spam

Black Hat SEOs hack their way to rank SERP using methods that can slip through google filters. There are many ways of doing this. What Penguin does is it penalises web pages that violate the webmaster guidelines of Google. It targets unnatural links that include:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Paid links
  • Outbound link irrelevant to your niche
  • Over-use of exact keyword anchor-text

Neal Patel conventionally grouped the link patterns that Penguin filters as: 

  1. Link quality-  simply the quality of backlinks
  2. Link velocity- the rate of the increase in backlink 
  3. Link Diversity- from where the links are coming from 

Sites that have the above signals are penalised by Google. This however, is not a site-wide penalty. Penguin only focuses on the specific web page.  

After the first deployment of Google Penguin, the site traffic of a web page guilty of spammy links plummets, while web pages that have quality content and doing great SEO job saw a surge in SERP ranking. Altogether, its first launch affected about 3.1% of English search queries. 

Sites that are negatively affected have to wait for a data refresh. This means they have to wait for google to crawl over their site and evaluate it again. At that moment, they must have cleaned all the links-related clutter or endure a penalty again. 

In the months that followed, the webspam-slayer was tweaked and updated. From Penguin 1.0 in April 2012, it is now named Penguin 4.0. Below is a brief timeline of the Penguin Updates.

Penguin 2.0 | May 22, 2013

After several data refresh, Google updated the anti-webspam algorithm. According to Matt Cutts, Head of Google Webspam team, this one is more comprehensive than its predecessor. They have expected that this update will leave A deeper impact. 

The Penguin 2.0 delves deep into the website by analysing internal pages to look for spam. Google equipped Penguin with sophisticated link analysis aimed at denying the value to link spammers. As a result, about 2.3% of English queries were affected. 

Penguin 3.0 | October 17, 2014

After the algorithm update, google launched a data refresh in October 2013. Only a year thereafter did Google launched another data refresh dubbed as the Penguin 2.1.  A year later, Google launched another data refresh, now called Penguin 3.0. Websites that had their site-traffic dropped were given a chance to regain SERP ranking. 

Web Pages with quality links expected a rise in ranking. Those violators of links guidelines that never redeemed a chance to rise up are even more buried down the SERP ranking. 

Penguin 4.0 | September 23, 2016

The newest version of Penguin launched Friday, was the most awaited update of the algorithm as it is operating in real-time. Web pages that were penalised no longer need to wait for a data refresh to be reevaluated and redeem itself from the drop. With real-time Penguin, the penalty or reward for sites is handed down immediately.

With the drastic update, this algorithm entails extreme changes that SEOs and webmasters must expect in the days to come.

The Penguin 4.0 Key Details and What to Expect 

The Penguin 4.0 Key Details and What to Expect

The Penguin 4.0 Key Details and What to Expect

True to its goal to reward high-quality sites and provide useful & relevant results to queries, Google promoted Penguin to become part of its core algorithm. Below are the key changes that follow the update, and the things that you might expect to happen.

Part of the Core Algorithm

As part of the core algorithm, it must be working in real-time and that no versions will be released as there will be no more data refresh. 

Real-time Operation

Webmasters no longer need to wait for another data refresh to redeem itself when it is negatively affected by Penguin in the previous versions. Google explained to SEM Post how they’re going to do this: 

“We look at the webmaster’s page and devalue incoming spam as we recrawl and reindex the particular page. So it’s the webmaster’s page that we’re talking about, not the spammy site.”

This means that google reevaluates page’s ranking every time it crawls and the impact, whether dropping the page rank or otherwise will take effect immediately.

More Granular

The official announcement of Google explained that it “now revalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site. “ This means, Google will penalise not the whole website but only parts of it that go into organic ranking. 

In short, Penguin 4.0 provides quick recovery for the sites that got demoted. At the same time, webmasters can quickly identify key changes on the site’s ranking and thus can make immediate decision and action.

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