Every Penguin update is met with huge buzz and clamour; everyone in the digital marketing industry is both excited and afraid as changes roll out. The heightened emotions equate to the excitement of a new iPhone launch, the opening day of the FIFA World Cup, and the reunion concert of a disbanded pop group.
First released in 2002, the Penguin algorithm is designed to catch and penalise websites that participate in unaccepted and spammy practices to boost Google rankings. As such, an update could make or break a website’s current standing.
The Penguin Update affects every business, organisation, and individuals who use the Internet to gain leads, customers, followers, and readers.
If you currently rank on page three, you might find yourself on page one after the update. Furthermore, the changes could mean a big shift in the industry, a game-changer, a shake up that may affect search results.
The previous two updates were very data-driven and only affected about 1% of search queries. Meanwhile, Penguin 4.0 may be the biggest update yet since its launch in 2012.
What Penguin 4.0 brings
Unlike previous updates where business owners, marketers and webmasters feared for the life of their websites, this update is a positive one.
Penguin 4.0 took two years to materialise, and came days before Google celebrated its 18th birthday. It is a pleasant surprise because updates are usually full of guessing and hoping for the best. This time, we know what’s new: Penguin is now real-time, granular, and part of the core algorithm. Each one is discussed below:
Happy birthday, Google. Thanks for Penguin 4.0
Penguin is now real-time
Prior to this update, penalised websites remain in such state even though webmasters have found the problems and rectified them. Their position will only change, hopefully returning to where they were before or even improve, after the next update was run.
How frequently did the updates happen? Not very frequently. They were done randomly, and often at very long intervals.
With the 4.0 update, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after they recrawl and reindex a page. This means problematic sites could return in the game as soon as errors are fixed and the regular update is run.
Penguin is now more granular
Penguin is also now more granular. The release notes say, “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.”
This means an entire website won’t be penalised because of over-optimisation on a specific page. For example, if you have too many non-relevant links pointing to an anchor text, that particular text or page will be devalued, but the rest will be fine. Only specific texts, links, and pages will be called out by the Penguin police.
Penguin is now part of the core algorithm
Because updates are now more regular, Google said they won’t comment on future refreshes. Similar to when the Panda update was absorbed into the core algorithm, Penguin is now part of the whole package. There will be no more specific Penguin updates, but there may be general spam-related updates moving forward.
How will this impact your business?
Google’s aim is to provide users with the best possible results. If Google returns results filled with spammy websites, users will bring their queries elsewhere. Updates are done to make sure that results are relevant, timely, and high in quality.
Companies that put effort into things like quality content and correct SEO practices are actually rewarded by these updates. Google sees their potential, and as such, puts them at the top of search results for everyone to see.
Soon, customers would also take interest in what you do and what you offer. When this happens, your last concern will be Google updates. It’s going to be just another technical term you don’t have to worry about, giving you more time to focus on what matters — your business.