It’s been a month since Google announced its long-awaited Penguin update. We were told that 4.0 would refresh the algorithm in all languages, switch it up to real-time, and make it more granular. So what’s changed?
What is Penguin?
Penguin is a webspam algorithm first introduced in 2012, which has always focused on filtering out spammy sites from search results. Penguin was a real cause for concern for webmasters; though it only ran occasionally, it was near impossible to recover in between updates, and could leave you fighting for months (or years!) to be reintroduced to the results page. Penguin’s algorithm took into consideration a handful of black hat SEO tactics, including keyword stuffing, cloaking and duplicate content. It was also able to identify dishonest link acquisition, which was particularly worrying for link builders.
What is Penguin 4.0?
On the 13th October 2016, Google confirmed that the most recent update was now complete. This means that all sites will now be caught in real-time if they’re dabbling in a spammy strategy. On the plus side, they’ll also be able to recover a lot faster once issues have been fixed. The completed update also means that any sites hit by the previous versions of Penguin (from 1.0 in April ’12 to 3.0 in October ’14) should see an improvement in their rankings if they’ve made efforts to clean up.
Since Penguin has now become more granular, individual sections will now be affected. Google’s Gary Illyes has explained that it ‘now devalues spam on adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting of the whole site.’ That means that Penguin will penalise specific pages whilst leaving others be. This is great news, as it brings an end to the harsh punishments that see whole sites plummet because of one dodgy page. SEOs should also be celebrating about the introduction of ‘devalued’ links instead of demotion; bad links will now be ignored, rather than causing your rankings to drop.
Should I be worried?
If your strategy involves honest link acquisition, and you adhere to Google’s best practices, you have nothing to worry about. Even those who have a few questionable pages needn’t be too concerned – now that Penguin is real-time, all improvements will be re-crawled and re-indexed more quickly, so your site should make a hasty recovery.
The same goes for your local SEO. If no spammy tactics are being practiced, you have nothing to fear. If you’re still concerned that your locations aren’t ranking properly, it’s more likely due to a lack of content, outdated business listings or some missing markup.
What should I do next?
As always, you should just keep following the rules. Penguin has and always will be a measure that combats black hat tactics, so the only way to appease it is through good, honest search engine optimisation. Identify any bad links that are pointing to your site and get them disavowed, maintain a high standard of SEO across the site, and keep on creating top quality, contextual content that earns links honestly.
Still got questions? Get in touch with one of our experts to discuss how It Works can help you keep the search engines happy, and find out more about our SEO services here.