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What You Need to Know About Google Penguin 4.0

On September 23, Google officially announced the rollout of Penguin as part of their core algorithm. Now that it's been more than a week since this algorithm change--what everyone is referring to as Penguin 4.0--what have we learned about the true impact, and what do you really need to know to ensure optimal organic search visibility moving forward?

Here are the key things about Penguin 4.0:

PENGUIN IS ABOUT LINK QUALITY

The Penguin algorithm update, first rolled out in April of 2012, was meant to penalize or downplay the value of sites with unnatural inbound links. Google needed to crack down on spammy or black hat link development tactics (e.g., buying links, link farms, overuse of anchor text, site-wide sidebar or footer links).  

IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE LAST UPDATE

Well, last official update from Google, anyway. October 18, 2014 was the last time Google confirmed a major Penguin update, as reported by SEO Roundtable

PENGUIN IS NOW REAL-TIME

Penguin is now part of the core Google algorithm and be refreshed in real-time. That means that any changes you make to improve links should be recognized and take effect more quickly. This is positive. A potential negative of Penguin in real-time is that Google will no longer be making announcements about or commenting on future changes, which could leave site owners and SEOs even more in the dark about changes to site visibility or organic traffic.

LINKS ARE DEVALUED, NOT JUST DEMOTED

The new Penguin will be detecting spam signals from links automatically, and reducing the value of, or outright ignoring, that link if deemed spammy.  This means you will no longer need to ask for removal of links from low quality sites, or go through the disavow process. Unless, that is, you receive a manual link penalty, at which time you'd have to do the work necessary to remove and/or disavow links and submit changes to Google for penalty removal. 

LINKS IMPACT ON PAGE-BY-PAGE BASIS

Before, if a spammy site linked to one of your pages, it could negatively impact your entire website. Now, these low quality links will only impact the page being linked to.

4.0 HAS FIXED LOADS OF 3.0 PENALTIES

Lots of businesses and SEOs are reporting that they are slowly bouncing back from hits they sustained from Penguin 3.0. Some are reporting highest organic traffic since October 2014, while others are seeing increases, but on a smaller scale. None of our clients are showing these extremes, then again, none were obviously hit by Penguin 3.0. 

That's what we know about Penguin 4.0 today, a little over a week after the official rollout. We'll likely learn more in the coming weeks and months, and will be sure to update you as new details are uncovered. Stay tuned to our blog, social channels or sign up for The Signal, our monthly email newsletter, for updates.