Penguin 4.0 Released by Google – Will Come As A Relief to Certain Website Owners

On September 23, 2016 Google launched Penguin 4.0. This article answers two questions: 1) What is Penguin? and 2) Why does it’s release (the final release in a series of releases since 2012) come as a relief to certain website owners?

Google launched the Penguin software update to its core algorithm in 2012 and has since operated on a periodic basis by identifying sites that spam its search results or purposely do things to rank better that are against Google’s publishers guidelines. Examples include:

  • Keyword stuffing;
  • Link schemes;
  • Cloaking, sneaky redirects or doorway pages;
  • Purposeful duplicate content.

Back in 2012 the update affected about 3 percent of all search queries. What has been frustrating to those of us practicing/applying search engine marketing for our clients and webmasters is that website owners, through little to no fault of their own (usually through “link farm” companies and the like) found their websites not appearing on Page 1 or Page 2 of Google search engine results. Instead, the average ranking position may have fallen to page 3,4 or 5.  Because earlier releases of Penguin only periodically made updates, sites would remain penalized even if they improved until the next filter ran, which could take months.

This is an excerpt from a Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwartz on 9/23/16:

“Penguin is a filter designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spamming systems might not detect. Introduced in 2012, it has operated on a periodic basis.

In other words, the Penguin filter would run and catch sites deemed spammy. Those sites would remain penalized even if they improved and changed until the next time the filter ran, which could take months.

The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17, 2014. Any sites hit by it have waited nearly two years for the chance to be free.

Those long delays are now to be a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin becomes real-time. As Google recrawls and reindexes pages — which happens constantly — those pages will be assessed by the Penguin filter. Pages will be caught and/or freed by Penguin as part of this regular process.

As Google said in its post:

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.”

We hope this is helpful information and it’s part of our mission at Agile Digital Marketing to keep you informed of important changes and updates that affect digital marketing. Google utilizes over 200 ranking factors in its core algorithms — we’ll continue to keep you apprised of important changes that may affect your website pages rankings.