Last week, Google confirmed the Penguin 4.0 roll-out, leading digital marketers and webmasters around the world to wonder how Real Time Google Penguin will work and whether or not they need to change their SEO approach. With this update, Google is going to make Google Penguin part of their Core Algorithm, according to an official Google statement.
This means that webmasters no longer have to wait years for a Penguin update to salvage the rankings of a website. Now, Penguin will recognize changes you make to your website in real time, making it easier and faster to overcome penalizations.
Penguin is a specific algorithm signal, first launched in 2012, that is one of 200 unique clues and signals relied on by Google to indicate what you could be searching for. This includes everything from keywords and content freshness to region and PageRank.
Penguin is Now in Real Time
The biggest impact of Penguin 4.0 is that Penguin is now in real time. Prior to 4.0, sites affected by Penguin were periodically refreshed all at once – a process that could take years. While many of Google’s algorithms were able to quickly recognize when a webmaster significantly improved a site, Penguin needed to be refreshed in a more manual sense.
Now, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time. What does this mean for you? Changes will be visible much faster and will likely take effect very quickly after Google recrawls and reindexes your page. Google’s statement says that Penguin is now also more granular, devaluing spam by “adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”
Google’s Penguin filter used to work by identifying and penalizing websites that it deemed spammy, specifically sites that engaged in black-hat SEO through buying links designed to boost search engine result rankings. Websites that triggered the Penguin filter were penalized and saw their rankings drop dramatically–sometimes disappearing from the SERPs completely. The solution was to find and clean up all the bad backlinks, but even after all that work, recovery only was only possible after the next Penguin refresh occurred, which could take years.
No one knew exactly when Google would launch a new Penguin update. However, with Penguin 4.0, we should see recoveries happening faster.
A Chance To Recover
Those who have spent time cleaning up bad backlinks since the last Penguin update are both relieved that their websites finally have a chance to recover from penalization and hopeful that they will see improvements in their traffic sooner rather than later. Some have reportedly already started seeing recoveries. After all, Penguin 4.0 is supposed to update in “real time,” right? As the leader of an agency, I’ve had to deal with the impact of penalizations brought on by the first Penguin update first-hand.
One April 24th, 2012, the day the first Penguin update was rolled out, one of our clients saw their organic traffic virtually cut in half instantly. Why did this happen? Because they juiced up their site with junky backlinks.
Since the our partnership with this client began last year, our SEO specialists have been working to clean up the site and sift through the backlinks. After disavowing hundreds of bad links, all we could do was wait until the next Penguin update to see if our work actually paid off. Looking at the analytics dashboard, we still haven’t seen a significant jump in traffic yet. A day after Google’s announcement, it was revealed that sites with spammy links will no longer be demoted. Instead, spammy links will be devalued so as not to affect the overall site rating.
Essentially, Google will ignore these links , which means that we actually don’t need the disavow file for Penguin 4.0. However, Google says that disavow may still be used to help it identify spammy links faster. Penguin 4.0 will essentially disavow links on it’s own. Google will now devalue spammy links automatically and believes webmasters will be happier because of this.
If a site happens to have spammy links pointed to it, it will no longer be penalized as a whole by Penguin, as would have occurred in the past. However, the site could still potentially go down in rankings if the links helped the site to gain higher rankings to begin with.
Keep in mind that it may take time for the Google’s algorithms to devalue spammy links pointing to your site. The bad news: digital teams working under the assumptions of the previous Penguin update spent hours disavowing hundreds of links. The good news: Penguin 4.0 will eventually make that easier.
If your website is currently penalized by Google Penguin, it may still be worth taking the time to clean up your backlinks, especially if they helped you achieve higher rankings in the first place. Google will now take your work into consideration quicker and you won’t have to wait for a Penguin refresh.
A More Granular Filter
Along with refreshing in real time, Google Penguin 4.0’s filter will penalize websites with unnatural links more granularly than before. As I mentioned above, Google Penguin used to penalize whole websites when detecting spammy links, but now, Penguin devalues spam by “adjusting ranking based on spam signals.” This means that instead of the entire website being penalized, spam will be filtered out of the equation. Ideally, this should reduce the amount of work webmasters need to do to overcome the penalties brought on by the first Penguin update.
For example, Google can now penalize/devalue a domain, a sub-directory, a group of keywords or a single page. Even if only certain pages were connected to bad links, the old Google penguin demoted website rankings dramatically. While the latest Penguin update brings a lot of change, Google admits that the roll out will never actually be complete.
Google crawls the web on an ongoing basis and changes its algorithms continuously. If you’re concerned about when you will start to see changes in your search engine result rankings, it may take a few weeks for Google to recrawl and reindex your page, so try to be patient.
The good news is that with Penguin 4.0, you have the ability to recover your rankings much faster. The most important thing is that you monitor your backlink profile closely and work to disavow the bad links. While you do that, you can be proactive and build quality links in the meantime to improve your website even further.
Work With Parqa to Ensure Your Website is Google Penguin 4.0 Safe
Parqa’s SEO and Content Marketing specialists can audit your website to ensure it is safeguarded against Google Penguin 4.0 penalization. When it comes to understanding the nuances of Google’s algorithm updates, our team’s expertise is unmatched. If you’re interested in SEO or simply want to find out more about the diverse range of services we offer here at Parqa, contact our team today.