Google Penguin 4.0 Is Now Live and Real-Time

Google Penguin 4.0 is now live and part of the main Algorithm, See what SEO changes have taken affect.

Google Penguin 4.0 Is Now Live and Real-Time

Posted by Myles Golden on Sep 19, 2016

The Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm has fully rolled out and checks in real time.

It's been almost 2 years since we've heard from the Penguin. The last major Penguin update (Penguin 3) was confirmed October 21st, 2014 by Google's Pierre Farr. Which means that for the last 2 years, they have either manually been pushing Penguin updates, or what most have thought it turned into Hummingbird or the RankBrain engine.

Let's take a blast from the past and take a look at all the different Penguin updates over the last 4 years.

The OG Penguin

Google Penguin is the algorithm codename for an update that was first announced on April 24, 2012, one of the days that will be remembered by SEOs. The Penguin update was aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines by using now declared black-hat SEO techniques involved in increasing artificially the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page.

The Penguin 2.0 - May 22, 2013 (Impacts 2.3% of queries)

Google launched another update their search engine algorithm on May 22nd, 2013. Google Penguin 2.0 was the latest iteration of their suite of ranking tools and garnered a considerable amount of attention in the press. Originally hailed as a major update, early results showed that Penguin 2.0 was largely a refinement of the original Penguin algorithm. However, many Webmasters reported that their websites changed in the rankings considerably.

Perhaps the most common reason why websites were falling because of Google Penguin 2.0 was bad back-links. The original Penguin aimed to devalue poor links, but Google was unable to detect all sources of bad links. The most substantial update to the Google Penguin 2.0 algorithm was Google's ability to better determine poor links. In addition, many Webmasters failed to evaluate the content used on their websites. Natural language processing is a major component of Penguin, and poor text material caused problems to many websites.

Links from quality websites are no longer enough. Before building links, find ways to make the anchor text appear organic. In addition, avoid focusing too much on keywords and key phrases. Instead of making the anchor text your keyword, consider making it a more organic term featured near the target phrase. When creating guest posts or other content, take the time needed to ensure that the material is as good as possible.

Google Penguin 2.0 caused many Webmasters to change how they operate. Fortunately, the overall trajectory of adjusting did not change much since the original Penguin update, and those who focused on quality content and links were able to adjust without much difficulty.

The Introduction of Penguin 2.1 and Hummingbird - October 4, 2013 (Impacts around 1% of queries)

Google was constantly striving to make a better experience for its users. Implementing SEO has always been a key part of creating a positive experience, however, some web developers were having difficulty keeping up with the constant changes. The Penguin 2.1 addition to the Google algorithm builds off of the 2012 release of Penguin and an upgrade to the ranking engine.

Alongside Penguin 2.1 was Google Hummingbird, an additional algorithm that was unveiled a few months prior, further filtered results. These new results were displayed on a brand new ranking engine that combined new and old features. Google Hummingbird mostly focused on improving conversational search tactics, which focused more on the meaning of words, rather than keywords. This update went hand and hand with Penguin and Panda releases, allowing users to find more relevant information.

Most people were apprehensive whenever Google announces a new Penguin update. Everyone assumed that their website would be buried in a sea of spam or competitors. With this Google algorithm update, less than 1 percent of users were to be affected, according to Matt Cutts. This implied that most people would not need to change their site’s search engine optimization, however, they should have continued to make sure that their site is SEO-friendly.

For the most part, “white hat” SEO techniques were not affected. The idea behind the Penguin 2.1 release is that webspam tends to use link schemes and keyword stuffing in order to rank higher in the results. While Panda cut down on many of these practices, there was still room for improvement for Webmasters.

Penguin 3.0 - October 17, 2014 (Impacts less than 1% queries)

On October 17, 2014, Google released it's third iteration of Penguin. One of the biggest changes to the Penguin algorithm was how Google views links. In previous structures, back-linking was a sign of importance and boosted ratings and traffic. While back-linking was still important, it is equally important to know who is on your profile. A routine link pruning for Webmasters was now necessary in order to maintain a healthy image in the eyes of Google Penguin.

For example, if your gardening website was suddenly referenced on several websites about coasters, this could hurt your search engine optimization, rather than help it. Posting quality content that people want to link to created back-link value. This not only helped you build your brand, but helped you to be placed higher in the results as well.

While the release of Google Penguin 3.0 was a big step in filtering unwanted search results for users, it was only the beginning. The improved user experience seen with Google Penguin 3.0 only encouraged better search engine practices in the future. As "black hat" webspam continued to find new ways to abuse the system, new algorithms were to be released in order to keep the search experience pleasant and informative for all users. With the help of Google Hummingbird and Panda, Penguin 3.0 helped to create a better, more targeted traffic for websites that used proper search engine optimization practices.

Penguin 4.0 - The Emperor - September 14, 2016

Google publicly announced Penguin 4.0 in September 2016 that it is now officially part of their main ranking algorithm and updates in real-time.

Before developing strategy to respond to Google Penguin 4.0, it is important to determine where you currently stand. Compare your current rankings to those from before the update. A bit of movement is expected during any update, but dramatic shifts may indicate that a new strategy is required. In addition, make notes if any of your websites have risen in the rankings as you will want to repeat the strategies used for them.

Google has shared that it is really never done rolling out Penguin because it is real-time, meaning, the algorithm signals are constantly being tuned and updated. As Google crawls, recrawls, indexes and reindexes the URLs across the internet, Penguin scores are being pushed in real time. Thus, it is never ever really fully rolled out.

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