The Google Penguin algorithm update aims to decrease the search engine ranking of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It severely punished thousands of websites for having unnatural inbound links back in October 2014 when it was updated last time. It’s been almost 2 years and you need to make sure that your website is always ready for the next, real-time Penguin update that is happening in the near future. I asked some of the most seasoned digital marketing experts and thought-leaders to share their thoughts on most important factors that will play the biggest role in the Penguin 4.0 era.
Kate Windleton (Marketing & PR Manager)
Representatives of Google always say that the search engine is constantly changing. And most SEO specialists see that. For example, factors like number of links become less and less important. On the other hand things like the CTR of the links, their relevancy, authorship matter more with each day. That is why I believe that we see mini penguins on a daily basis – the AI is learning more and more how to value the links to a website. This is far more important change that SEOs need to embrace than a Penguin update. This is a change of the mindset.
In my opinion, there is some very big reason why Penguin hasn’t come to the world yet. It was said that the update will come in the last quarter of 2015, but 9 months later, there is still no sign of it. I want to believe the logic behind this is that the guys at Google want to make it the last Penguin update. Sort of like Panda – constantly rolling out machine-learning algorithm that is integrated in the core algorithms of Google. If that happens, we will see a lot less link schemers and spammers. Why? Because the rules of the game will change every minute. Now, if you do an experiment with a test website and see that you don’t get a penalty, you know that this will work at least till the next update. If the algorithm is constantly rolling, you won’t know whether the machine won’t consider your website spammy on the other day, week, or month. And you have reasons to invest in spam and buying links.
We still see many spammy websites, especially in some niche. They rank purely with spammy anchor texts and buying links. However, I want to believe that, with a constantly rolling Penguin, Google will take actions against such websites more frequently.
Ivan (Head of Paid Search at Local Fame)
Here’s my 2 cents. The Google Penguin 4.0 update is something the SEO community has been expecting for some time now, and although there are multiple rumours, we can safely assume the following:
What a real time update means? It is an algorithm that will impose automatic spam penalties far quicker than your average Penguins (we can also include Pandas here). Currently, Google relies heavily on the web spam reports in Google Search Console but although the checking process there is pretty quick, it is not a good solution because users like us cannot detect every other mischief out there. The 24/7 Penguin will do just that – it will find all those backlinks that the good webmasters cannot manage to find simply because they are humans and they can work for a couple of hours a day.
How will it impact the SERP? Well. Google obviously isn’t going to penalise your website on the spot because some competitor can build 10 000 harmful backlinks to your website. This is probably the main reason behind the lack of a release date – it is simple enough to penalise a website. It is not simple detect if that’s actually the bad neighbour in SERP. Therefore, Google has to send a warning message every time the Penguin finds penalty-worthy links to give the webmaster time to clean up his link profile.
However, this would be a step back in automation which means Google are currently looking for a safe way not to penalise websites that are being attacked by competitors with link building. Black hat SEO people will go as far as redirecting a penalised website with 301 to their competitor’s website so this is a real threat.
How to make sure your website is Penguin-safe? Well, if you are an SEO expert, you are monitoring your new backlinks on a weekly basis. So just keep doing that and it will be fine. This update is aimed at those SEO companies that hurt this wonderful profession’s reputation.
Graeme Watt (Online Strategy Manager at Zen Agency)
In regards to Penguin 4.0 it looks likely this will be a ‘real time’ update. This would allow Google to constantly be evaluating your links with changes made instantaneously. Previously if sites had been affected by the Penguin update they had to wait till the next roll out which was often months/years away to get the penalty lifted this will no longer be the case.
SEO’s and webmasters should continue to aim to build high quality relevant links to their website and they will have nothing to worry about in regards to the Google Penguin. I would recommend a full backlink review and disavowing any spammy or suspicious looking links to keep you on the safe side.
So when will it drop? Well, that is the million dollar question, it was rumoured to be in March of 2016 however there is still no confirmed date.
Cormac Reynolds (My Online Marketer)
I think we’re going to see something big happen with artificially powered up Web 2.0s. A huge number of money sites are utilising the power of these web 2.0 sites after they are powered up by automatic tools and I think Google may have something to say about this.
We’re also going to hopefully see real time Penguin, which could have a whole raft of pros and cons. Sure it allows your site to recover faster from a penalty, but it may also cause issues regarding opportunities for negative SEO.
AdamJCP (Founder of Adam Joshua Clarke Professional)
SEO with follow the same principles. Quality link profiles and link building actively with good networking and content marketing strategies.
Content creation won’t become less important. Since the opposite of spam is adding value then google must tend towards the gesture of having the strongest, most complete, and the best engagement you can produce. Where we have always wanted to be working on the process of optimizing our websites for engagement so we should see nothing less happening in this area.
Worst case scenario we are purely looking at link building strategies that propel your business whether it be SEO from building links or the SEO inside of your website and the content you produce. Is it obvious there are good reasons for a person to be linking to you? This answer is still what will prevail even in the Penguin 4.0 era.
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