SEO Update: Penguin 4.0 Rolls Out

Brett Suddreth
Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm

The Google algorithm update that we have been expecting for almost 2 years is now live. On Friday, September 23, 2016, Google confirmed the update and shared that it will have a significant impact to a website’s SEO/Organic Search presence.

So, what is Penguin?

Penguin is an algorithm created by Google back in 2012 to act as a spam filter, checking the quality and quantity of backlinks coming to your website. If a website is deemed to have spammy or “unnatural” looking backlinks, it can be penalized and lose keyword ranking positions and ultimately organic traffic.

What updates were made?

The biggest change with the update to 4.0 is that Penguin now runs in real-time. Google explained that, “Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed.” With the new real-time update, Penguin will now act just as fast as the others, making visible changes and taking effect much faster. With the real-time update, Google also explained that they’re not going to comment on future refreshes.

Another change with the update is that Penguin will now be “more granular.” Google explained, “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

What does this mean?

If Penguin now acts in “real-time”, when Google indexes the page it will immediately recalculate the ranking signals around Penguin.

Penguin becoming “more granular” still leaves some uncertainty. It could mean that Penguin can now impact sites on a page-by-page or section-by-section basis, whereas in the past it would impact, or penalize, the entire website.

So, if Google/Penguin determines that certain pages or sections of your site are spammy, or are using unnatural means of acquiring backlinks/rankings, they might be the only area(s) of the site that are penalized.

What should you do?

If your site employs SEO strategies that generate quality and natural backlinks, this update shouldn’t have a negative effect on your rankings, but you should always be monitoring your data closely.

It is important to note that this is just one of many algorithms that Google employs to determine keyword rankings. When executing an SEO strategy, you should keep all these algorithm updates top of mind – that way you are further insulated from any future updates that come out.

Remember, Google is all about the user experience. Treat the user right and Google will treat you right.

What can TfA do for you?

Our SEO team has been around long before algorithm updates were a part of the digital marketing vernacular. We pride ourselves in developing Google-friendly, hard-working and high-earning SEO strategies.

If you are looking for some help in this area, we would love to chat with you. Drop us a line at or call us at 913-648-8333.

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