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Google Launches Real-Time Penguin 4.0: How It Affects SEO

2 mins read

On 23 September 2016, Google launched real-time Penguin. For SEOs who closely follow Google news, this has been an updaten we've been waiting a long time for. The first rumours of real-time Penguin were that it was going to launch at the end of 2015 but nothing happened. Now real-time is finally here. Learn how it will affect your rankings.

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The Release Of Real-Time Penguin

Google released the news on Friday about the launch of Penguin 4.0, saying they were rolling it out in all languages. The key changes compared to its predecessors are that:

  • Penguin is real-time.
  • Penguin is now more granular.

What Is Penguin?

First introduced in 2012, Google released the Penguin as an algorithm update designed to decrease search rankings of any websites that abused Google's webmaster guidelines. These are sites that use manipulative link building techniques, spammy ads, duplicated content and other unapproved SEO strategies. 

Google created Penguin to punish websites that used these techniques and in turn, benefited sites that followed the guidelines. 

In the past, Google's Panda and Penguin updates were updated every so often but now Google has incorporated them into its core algorithm. Panda became part of Google's main algorithm at the beginning of the year, and now Penguin is real-time too.

This means, Panda and Penguin are central ranking factors.  

penguin standing

How Does Real-Time Make Penguin Different?

Originally, Penguin impacted websites whenever a new update was released. This was a problem for SEOs and online businesses because if you were hit by Penguin penalties, you could fix them but then you would have to wait for the next update.

Loss of high organic rankings is a big hit to traffic and conversions.

Real-time Penguin is immediate. So, if you've been hit by penalties, you can fix them and the changes will be faster and more visible after you've reindexed a penalised page. 

The last Penguin update was in 2014, so any websites that were hit by Penguin last time have had to wait two years for an update. Now, with real-time you can be free of Penguin's penalties faster.

Now Penguin is part of Google's core algorithm and part of over 200 other ranking factors that determine the overall ranking of your site, your improvements will be registed in a matter of hours. 

Penguin Is Now More Granular - What Does That Mean?

Another notable change Google has announced, along with real-time, is that Penguin is more granular. 

This term is not very clear but we think this means it will have an impact on pages and sections of a website that are judged as spammy or violating Google's guidelines rather than the entire website.

While it might not negatively impact the ranking value of your website as a whole, it doesn't mean Penguin penalties should be ignored. They should be fixed immediately and thanks to the real-time update, your changes will be acknowledged quickly.

How To Protect Your Website From Penguin 

When Google released the news about the new Penguin update, they also reiterated the importance that "webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites."

Google wants to give higher rankings to websites that provide helpful information for searchers and that is the approach you should take. In relation to inbound marketing, providing fresh and informative content is an effective means of attracting relevant traffic and converting visitors into contacts.

Here are some ways you can avoid being hit by Penguin

  • Create original content
  • Do not duplicate from other websites
  • Blogs and website pages should have more than 400 words of helpful and relevant content
  • Don't participate in link-building schemes
  • Don't have spammy ads
  • Be diverse with anchor texts (here's how to fix this)
  • Regularly clean up your backlink report
  • Fix anything that Google has flagged as spam on your website

Want to secure your ranking positions?

The best way to keep Penguin happy is by following Google's website guidelines. Our ranking factors cheatsheet lists the important features you need to secure your search positions and stay on the good side of Penguin. Download a free copy of our cheatsheet: