Webmasters beware: Google has officially begun rolling out its Penguin 4.0 search algorithm.
For those unfamiliar with Google’s search practices, Penguin is a technical signal designed to filter out sites that tactically spam Google’s search results for their own gain. Introduced in 2012, the signal used to operate on a sporadic (and often frustrating) basis.
However, long delays are now a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin becomes real-time – targeting pages on a case-by-case basis, rather than penalising a whole site based on tactics used on just one or two pages.
As Google re-crawls and re-indexes a site, pages will be assessed on the fly. Pages will be caught and/or freed by Penguin as part of the process.
It’s important to remember that Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” to surface what users are searching for. These signals include things like the specific words that appear on websites, the freshness of content and user location.
Google recognises that the web has changed significantly over the past couple of years, and encourages webmasters to continue to build “amazing, compelling websites” in order to steer clear of Penguin.
Will Penguin 4.0 impact my site?
If your website was hit by Penguin 3.0 and you didn’t see a recovery over time, then that probably means you’re still impacted. Our advice would be to give it a couple of weeks and refer back to your analytics to see if there are any signs of recovery.
Alternatively, you can use Google’s disavow file on links you think may be hurting your site and it should become clear pretty quickly if there’s room for improvement.