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​Don't panic! All you need to know about Google's Penguin 4.0

Emma Russell takes a look at Google's Penguin 4.0 and what it can mean for online businesses.

29 September 2016 ( words)
Emma Russell Emma Russell

​Penguin now works in real-time within Google's core algorithm.

Over the past week Google anounced the released Penguin 4.0, the bigger brother of Penguin 3.0 from 2014 that led to internet pandemonium. This means it’s major news for pretty much anyone with a website. But what is it and can it affect your business?

Real Time Updates

Google’s Penguin algorithm aims to affect search engine rankings for sites that don’t abide by their Webmaster Guidelines. The last update, Penguin 3.0 was released in October 2014, delisting entire websites that (either knowingly or unknowingly) used nefarious tactics in link building to increase ranking. Due to the fact that the update penalised the entire site, it took a long time for organisations to recover their previous website ranking. Some have waited almost two years, whilst others improved their website and asked Google to re-evaluate them (which took months to resolve).

However, Penguin 4.0 is a little bit different. In Google’s statement on the release of the update, they noted that instead of a separate algorithm, it’s now incorporated within its core search algorithm. This means it will now be working in real time, making those long delays a thing of the past! Huzzah!

Crime and Punishment

The sitewide penalties of Penguin 3.0 left many businesses floundering, their site having disappeared from search engines overnight. Thankfully, these punishments have been relaxed, instead of the entire site, Penguin 4.0 has been designed to target specific pages, meaning that if a certain page has been punished, the website as a whole will still have a presence in search engines. If most of the pages on the website are fine, only the few pages with some cheeky SEO nonsense going on will be penalised, meaning people can still find your site online. That being said, we would still never recommend implementing any kind of black hat SEO techniques, it's not worth it. Stay squeaky clean.


This update is rolling out at a steady pace, depending on how many times your site is visited by Google. If Google indexes your website quite often, it is likely that the update will roll out to you fairly quickly. However, it will take a few weeks for the search engine rankings to settle. You can find this information in your Search Console under 'Crawl Stats'.

The last chapter?

In Google’s statement on the update, they noted that this would be the last update. As the Penguin algorithm now works within the main core algorithm, it means that updates likely won’t need to be announced due to the fact that it works in real-time within the core algorithm.

What does this mean for you and your business?

There’s obviously less need to panic about this update than the last one. The last update affected a mere 1% of businesses, meaning that far fewer should be affected this time thanks to the reduced penalties and real-time implementation. However, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your links, there may be a few things that need tweaking. Why not perform a backlink audit and remove any links from bad websites by asking the site owner or by using the Google Disavow tool?

We’re happy to talk to anyone on this topic so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Emma Russell

Author: Emma Russell