Google's Next Update: What You Need to Know About Penguin’s 4.0 Update


According to Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google’s next Penguin update should launch any day now – and if not, at some point before the end of the quarter, which means it’s coming soon. So, as with all the other algorithm updates, the Internet is abuzz with speculation, and many business owners are starting to wonder what impact it will have on their websites.

The last update, Penguin 3.0, was released in October 2014. It wasn’t a major update, only a small tweak to the link spam algorithm that affected less than 1% of U.S. English searches.

When you have small refreshes, there are improvements made to make the algorithm better, but you don’t have any additional ranking signals being added. The refresh not only improves the algorithm, but helps sites that were once penalized regain some ground, provided they made the necessary corrections since the last update.

Penguin 2.0, released in May 2013 was the major update that included spam-fighting technology and penalized sites that were using poor optimization techniques, but it’s the last time Google actually confirmed new signals were added to the algorithm. Matt Cutts said only about 2.3% of U.S. English queries would be affected to the point where users would notice.

What Now?

There isn’t a great deal of details available about the upcoming update, so we’ll likely have to wait and see what happens when the updated algorithm rolls out. Rumors suggest this update will include real-time updates, meaning that part of the algorithm will constantly update.

If you’re doing SEO the right way – this won’t mean much to you. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you shouldn’t notice any major hits to your ranking. Keep an eye on your data and watch for changes in traffic, but don’t stress.

If, however, you’re stuck working with an SEO agency that relies on black-hat techniques, including spammy link profiles, you’ll continue to see rankings go down, if not disappear completely, in favor of higher quality sites. Google is focused on creating a quality experience for their customers – the searchers – and if your website can’t deliver, they’re not going to serve it to their users. Period.

We Screwed Up – How Can We Fix It?

Hire a reputable SEO company to audit your website for you. Dwayne Doe, CEO of SEO Royals suggests, “Optimize your link profile sooner rather than later. It’s possible to alert Google to links coming to your website that you don’t trust to Google, using their Disavow Tool.”

Links, of course, aren’t the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of things. If your content is spammy – links or not – you’re still in trouble. If your content doesn’t serve your audience and only toots your horn, you’re in trouble. A full website audit will go beyond link profile analysis to look at content and other elements of your website such as content and page load time. At the end of the audit, you’ll walk away with recommendations to improve your ranking. You can choose to follow the recommendations alone, or with the help of an agency. If you don’t have a clue what you’re doing – go with the agency. You’ll get more done in less time, and save money in the long run.

If you wait too long to get to work, you could risk doing too little, too late. Google is well known for releasing updates without warning, and the Internet goes crazy when people discover major changes to their website’s ranking overnight.

Image credit: Denys Prykhodov /

About the Author

Lucinda Honeycutt

Lucinda Honeycutt is a freelance writer and web designer nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. She's a tech geek, foodie, and research junkie. She writes about a little bit of everything.

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