Penguin 4.0- What, When, the implications and how to Avoid getting Penalised

A brief history of Penguin

The first Penguin update was announced in April 2012 with the aim of identifying and removing websites from the SERP’s that heavily relied upon spammy practices to gain rankings on the Google search engine. These were websites that either purchased unrelated/low quality links , relied upon link farms or link networks in order to gain visibility on Google. The release of this update changed the organic listing landscape for good and forced many companies including SEO firms to re-think their optimisation strategies. The message was simple- do it the right way- The White Hat Way or pay the price.

Over the years there were several Penguin updates,

Penguin- April 2012 – Rolled out the very first Penguin Update. The aim was to target websites using over-optimisation techniques (Spammy Links, Keyword Stuffing) in order to gain rankings on search engines. This updated affected 3.1 percent of search queries (English Language). This is still considered the biggest Penguin Update till date.

Penguin 1.1- May 2012- According to Matt Cutts of Google, this was the first Penguin data refresh. This was to have a less impact as compared to the original Penguin update- Less than 0.1% of English searches.

Penguin 1.2- October 2012- The third Penguin update that affected approximately 0.3% of the search queries.

Penguin 2.0- May 2013- This was an algorithm update and not just a data refresh, affecting approximately 2.3% of search queries (English Language). This change also finished work on other languages around the world and affected search queries in all the other languages around the world. According to Matt Cutts of Google, languages with more webspam will notice a bigger impact.

Penguin 2.1- October 2013- A combination of Algorithm Update and Data Refresh affecting 1% of the search queries on the search engines.

Penguin 3.0- October 2014- Google made a comeback with yet another Penguin update after a year of the last update. A data refresh only affecting approximately 1% of the searches.

Penguin 4.0- Yet to be released.

Recovery from Google Penguin

In order to recover from Penguin Google put forward a variety of options which included,

Messages to Google Webmaster Owners
Google Disavow links tool
Reconsideration Requests
The Latest Penguin Update- Penguin 4.0

Announced in December 2014, Google confirmed it will be making some major changes to the Penguin algorithm and making it a continuous update i.e. the algorithm will be refined continuously on the go rather than releasing update in batches like it did in the past. This would mean that all the changes will be pushed out in real-time as the engineers refine the algorithms.

There has been growing speculation on the web about the actual release date with many Industry experts waging their bets on the first quarter of 2016. But the first quarter has come and gone and still no word from Google on the actual release date of the Penguin Update.

How will the latest update affect the search results?

What factors will be taken into account by the latest update? Well there is no clear answer to this as well and there are varied opinions on this topic. Ranging from Anchor Text Over Optimisation to Quality of content and Quality of Links to User Experience have been talked about as factors that could be looked at by the new Penguin update. According to me Keyword Stuffing and Low Quality Links (Spammy Links) will be two of the major factors of this update.

What you need to do in order to avoid getting Penalised by Penguin 4.0?

Monitor your backlinks and remove any spammy or unrelated links that you find.
Focus on writing good quality and meaningful content for your website rather than stuffing the web-page with keywords that you are looking to target.
Work on the overall User Experience of your website and make it easier for users to navigate their way through the website. This includes working on a mobile responsive design as well.
We like many other SEO experts are awaiting the launch of the new Penguin Update, will keep you posted any news in regards to the Penguin 4.0 Update.

If you are an Australian business and have been affected by Penguin or Panda in the past and need a bit of expert advice on how to recover, feel free to get in touch with us at our Sydney office to discuss further.