Friday saw the confirmation of the arrival of Google Penguin 4.0; but more than this it also saw the announcement that Penguin is now updated in real-time and part of Google’s core algorithm…. But what does this mean?

In basic terms, it means that ensuring your backlinks are high quality is more important than ever.

Penguin historically targets sites with low quality backlinks and the impact of a penguin penalty or algorithm was felt hard, with many people seeing a Manual Action in their Search Console accounts.  

Even the biggest of sites weren’t safe from Penguin, as found out in June 2013.  Icelolly are still yet to recover fully, but have regained high rankings for their money terms- it’ll be interesting to see their movement over the coming months:Icelolly Penguin Loser

September 2016’s iteration of Penguin is different.  As Google states on their Official Webmaster Central Blog:

  • Penguin is now real-time. 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 recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.
  • Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.

What does this mean for you though?

  • Whereas Penguin used to impact your entire website, it’s now likely to only impact the page/pages with low quality links directing to them.  This will make it easier for you to find the root of the cause and resolve it.
  • You won’t need to wait a long time to see recovery. In previous Penguin updates, you’d have to wait for the next Penguin update (which could be a year away), so see your penalty lifted.  As Penguin is now part of the core algorithm, recovery should be seen a lot sooner.
  • Disavows continue to be vital to your strategy.  A Disavow file is one of your best protections from Penguin, as you can in essence tell Google to ignore low quality links to your website.  Keep updating these quarterly, we have some guidance on how to execute a disavow here.
  • Link quality is more important than ever.  Judging the quality of a link can be difficult, we have a handy guide here, however as a rule of thumb if the site is relevant, often updated and looks of high quality you’re on the right track: if the site covers travel one minute and then PPI loans the next, with broken English articles, it’s one to avoid.

Recovering from a Penguin algorithm can be tough, but it isn’t impossible.  That’s where we come in.  If you’re noticing traffic and ranking drops, that can be a sign of a penalty.  Give us a call on 0121 200 3336 and we can have a look at the situation for you.