Penguin 4.0 : What you need to know

By Jordan Southern topicIcon SEO, Google, Search News


After almost two years of suffering, businesses who were penalised with the last Penguin update and have been unable to recover can finally breathe again. On Friday, 23rd September Google officially released Penguin 4.0, but what does this mean for digital marketing?

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Truth is, it isn’t exactly what you expect - the impact this update has had in the search results over the last four days has been minimal and many webmasters have not seen any noticeable changes.

Here are six things you need to know about the new Penguin update.

1. The term “real-time” doesn’t mean instant

Google updates usually take a few days to implement across the web and have noticeable effects once fully rolled out; however this time around there hasn’t been any drastic changes. Why is that?

The term “real-time” doesn’t mean instant – it means that the new algorithm gets implemented as individual pages are crawled. First, crawlers go through the website, then Penguin analyses each page’s internal and external links and finally the algorithm adjusts the page’s visibility. This means it is a page-specific, rather than a full site-wide penalty.

2. No change to organic traffic doesn’t mean you are still penalised

Because Penguin acts as pages are crawled, it takes time for the update to have an effect. This is why instead of looking at the organic traffic as a whole, it would be best practice to monitor the performance of each page.

Your penalty may have been lifted, even if your overall organic traffic hasn’t changed - maybe Google is yet to crawl the pages that caused the penalty.

3. You’ll need to be very vigilant from now on

The changes brought by the new update mean that you can recover from a penalty much more easily and quicker than before; however this also means that you can get penalised quicker.

As previously mentioned, monitoring your pages’ traffic could be vital, as this way your team can help you recover quicker.

4. Disavowing links still help

There will always be links going to your site that you are unable to control. For this reason, disavowing links is still very much a viable option.

It is important to ensure that the disavow file you submit is well built with comments on what links are to be disavowed, why and when. Improper use of this tactic can cause damage to your campaigns, so it’s best to rely on experts when it comes to the disavow process.

5. The release won’t affect manual actions

The launch of Penguin 4.0 won’t affect manual actions, as these are a completely separate kind of penalty, usually targeting specific link networks.


6. Only worry if you practice black hat tactics

The announcement of the new penalty has caused a lot of worry across the marketing community; however this is not something you should worry about if you aren’t using black hat tactics.

Penguin focuses on anti-Google guidelines strategies, so if you create engaging and helpful content and build meaningful relationships with influencers and the media, you have nothing to worry about.

Bonus tip - Do a backlink audit

If you are still worried even after reading this blog post (we’re all humans after all), why not have someone look through your backlinks and run an analysis on them? This might uncover sites you would not have guessed linked to your site. You can then take action and submit your disavow request, if necessary.

Want to know more?

We'd be happy to answer any questions you have about this update or something more general about digital marketing. Get in touch with our team using the form below, we'd love to help: