Marketing experts, social media professionals, webmasters and SEO service providers have all been buzzing since the release of Google’s most recent update to Penguin 4.0, which starting rolling out at the end of September 2016. The implications for small business owners are largely positive, but there will also be new challenges to face in the post-Penguin online.
As early as 2012, Google designed the first Penguin Algorithm update to address the growing problem of spam and its effect on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). As a primary component of web crawling and indexing Penguin identified and penalized websites that appeared to manipulate search results using suspicious backlinks.
Over the past four years, a series of upgrades continued to Penguin’s core programming, as Google continued to focus on reducing the visibility of websites with spam or ‘black hat’ SEO activity. The final updates, now known as Penguin 4.0, promise to make search results more organic and relevant for everyone.
Website Magazine offers a concise summary of the recent changes and their impact on SEO but here are the key points:
- Penguin is part of Google’s core algorithm. For every search conducted Google’s core algorithm processes and analyzes 200 unique signals that determine your ranking. Penguin is now officially included among these key ranking factors. Keep in mind, however, that Penguin is only one signal and there are still many other aspects of your SEO that will remain important.
- Penguin processes real-time updates. Previously, webmasters and administrators who made SEO changes to their website wouldn’t see the impact on search results for months. With 4.0 now live, updates to the Google web crawler and search index are processed in real time so you can see changes to SERP within only hours of making changes to your website.
- Penguin performs more in-depth website analysis. The new Penguin analyzes a website in more detail by examining off-page signals for contextual data relevant to the domain, examining additional content such as subfolders and keyword groups. By crawling websites more thoroughly, Google’s search engine can identify and index authentic, organic content more readily.
- Penguin no longer penalizes an entire site. Page-specific penalties for faulty or suspicious backlinks will apply instead of site-wide removal. This is great news for honest businesses that may have been flagged previously for any unintentional SEO oversights found on their site. Only the page hosting the suspicious inbound link is now penalized. Penalties can now be addressed and removed within hours by Google Support staff by simply disavowing the content or link.
- Backlinks remain a key ranking factor. SEO experts and digital marketers have always known that Google values backlinks as a way of validating or measuring a website’s credibility. In the post-Penguin 4.0 environment, review your backlinks on a regular basis to avoid a penalty and update them to keep them fresh.
The bottom line for SEO and businesses is that unique, original, quality content that generates organic traffic and link-building is the best way to ensure that Penguin 4.0 works for you rather than against. The easiest way of thinking how to succeed from SEO is “content + links = food for the search engines“. You can read Google’s official Penguin 4.0 release statement for further details.
If you want to build organic traffic and drive more inbound leads to your website from credible sources, get in touch with Paul Teitelman in Toronto, your local SEO partner and expert link-builder.