How Google Penguin 4.0 Will Affect Your SEO

Google’s newest search algorithm update is here. Earlier this year, the world’s largest search engine released the newest iteration in its long tradition of cutely named but impactful updates. And, as has been the tradition with these types of changes, Google Penguin 4.0 affects your small business SEO efforts in a variety of ways.

What is Penguin?

You may have heard about the techniques of buying links in black hat to boost your search profile. If Google finds a large number of backlinks to boost the reputation of a website, why not buy these backlinks to rocket up the rankings, as the reasoning behind this technique goes?

Penguin’s first iteration, in 2012, was specifically designed to squash this unethical tactic. It punished marketers seeking to take advantage of an algorithm that was in reality designed to ensure that the most relevant (and credible) websites would occupy the highest rankings.

The result was both immediate and impactful. A first sweep of the new update impacted 3.1% of English language search queries. Since then, a number of updates have refined the code with less impactful, but cumulative results in the same direction. Which brings us to this year’s news.

The Real-Time 4.0 Update

Penguin 4.0 has been anticipated for a while in the SEO community. The last update to the algorithm had dropped in 2014, so it was due for an update. That finally came this September, and brought with it significant changes.

Above all, Penguin is now real-time. Previously, the algorithm had been separated from Google’s core search algorithm, and was refreshed only periodically in order to find new websites that tried to game the system.

That is no longer the case. The new update means that sketchy links will now have an immediate impact on your website’s rankings. Google no longer waits for a refresh of the Penguin code to evaluate the link profiles of websites, but does so each time a crawler hits the site.

The Granular Benefits of Penguin 4.0

In addition to being rolled into Google’s search algorithm, Penguin 4.0 also has taken on a more granular nature. Search Engine Watch notes that “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

In other words, the penalties for rankings will only apply to the particular page to which spammy links point, not to all of your domain. A more focused approach will make both the stomach and the cleanup of links which have the potential to weaken your rankings easier.

How Penguin 4.0 Will Affect Your Small Business SEO

The real-time nature of Penguin could mean one of two things depending on your current link profile:

  1. As Rand Fishkin explains at Moz, sketchy links now have an immediate, negative impact on your SEO. Instead of having the time to clean up your link profile before a refresh, the ranking penalty can occur much more quickly.
  2. At the same time, you can now lift present and past punishments more easily. Once you remove sketchy links, your ranking improves as soon as Google crawls your page, and you don’t have to wait until the next Penguin refresh to see your penalties lifted.

All possible outcome means first and foremost one thing: be mindful of your connection profile. Now sketchy ties have immediate, detrimental effects on your SEO efforts. Simultaneously, cleaning up those ties can have positive effects with the potential to be just as effective.

In its announcement Google also stated that it would no longer comment on future updates. This makes sense given the integration into the central algorithm. We may have seen Penguin’s last but will feel its effects for years to come. For more information on creating a high-quality inbound connection network that will help, don’t damage your small or medium-sized company website in the age of Penguin 4.0, contact us.

How Google Penguin 4.0 Will Affect Your SEO