by Jon Heinl September 28th, 2016
Google has finally confirmed the rollout of the latest Penguin update, “Penguin 4.0.” After much online chatter about the impending update in recent months, Google announced last week that the improved Penguin algorithm is on its way and will meet two popular webmaster requests: since the signal is now a core part of Google’s algorithm, it will refresh in real time, so webmasters who’ve improved their sites could see rankings changes as soon as pages are recrawled and reindexed. Secondly, Penguin is now granular, meaning it could impact specific pages or sections rather than entire websites.
Penguin Targets Webspam
Google has made it clear that websites should be designed with users in mind first and then search engines. Many of its algorithmic changes have been to penalize websites that rely on “shortcuts or loopholes” that can boost rankings but diminish user experience. The purpose of Penguin is to push websites that violate Google’s quality guidelines down in the search engine results pages, effectively decreasing their web presence. Some of the tactics, or webspam, Penguin targets include keyword stuffing, duplicate content, overuse of exact-match anchor text, and link schemes.
What should you do if you suspect your site has seen a rankings drop due to Penguin? Clean it up! In the case of manipulative backlinks, you’ll need to ask site owners to remove them and/or submit a disavow file to Google telling them to ignore those bad links. Just make sure not to accidently include high quality links in that file.
The nice thing about Google making Penguin a core part of its algorithm is that you won’t have to wait long to see the results of your efforts to get rid of webspam. Website owners used to have to wait months or even years (almost two years since the last Penguin refresh) for Google algorithm updates. Faster results may not be accompanied by better rankings though. Without the webspam artificially boosting your site—or if you accidently disavowed good links—your site position may not improve as much as you hoped. The good news is that practicing white hat SEO from now on could likely be rewarded with better rankings.