The cat, or rather, the penguin is out of the bag. Penguin 4.0, which may well be the last Penguin by-version update by Google is rolling out and we’re already seeing the fluctuations in the search engine results pages. Here’s how Penguin 4.0 affects SEO long-term.
Google Penguin is now Real-Time
Always keep in mind that each link you build will now be automatically crawled, indexed and then (for a lack of a better word) ‘judged’ by Penguin. For white-hat SEO people, Penguin updates aren’t really a bother. In fact, it may well go ignored as if nothing happened – since the links we build are 100% legitimate. Panda and Penguin favors the white-hat SEO people.
However for the other colors of SEO, this may well be an exclamation mark. Your links getting ‘judged‘ by Penguin real-time means real-time consequences. But on the other side of the spectrum, it also means that if you do get caught building bad/spammy links by the algorithm, you can disavow them and get out of the penalty as quickly.
Google Penguin is a bit more Harmless
Google’s Gary Illyes said that Google Penguin will now only devalue bad/spammy links instead of demoting a page or a website because of spammy/bad links.
That’s good news for black and grey hat practitioners. Then again perhaps Google is having a hard time giving time and attention to all the disavow requests.
It just eliminates a lot of the risk of building bad links though because the penalty is not really a penalty anymore but just a simple devaluation.
Google Penguin will now Deal with Pages Individually as Well
If Google Penguin penalized an entire site because of the quality of its links before, it no longer works that way.
“Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”
Meaning Google Penguin will be able to go through each page of your website and ‘judge‘ its links on a per-page level. I do believe, however, that your site’s ‘link reputation‘ as a whole can still lift the ranking ability of all pages in your site.
So this move of Google Penguin being more ‘granular’ simply means that Google is giving more weight to the individual links in individual pages in your site. I don’t believe this will be a big deal except for landing pages (mostly commercial landing pages) that are have a lot of low-quality links pointing at them.
You see, it’s still common practice for SEO agencies and specialists to build landing pages that are peppered with keywords, with the exact-match title tag that the client wants, and then build lots of easy-to-get links to those pages.
I think those types of landing pages are going to be the most affected out of this ‘granularization‘.
Disavow Tool is going to be Kept-Alive
Google’s team for manual actions are still around even if Penguin is now real-time. So the disavow tool will be staying just in case. You can still use it if you see a stream of strange, negative links being built towards your site.
Google Penguin 4.0 is not Spam Proof
That is, if Penguin is not a learning algorithm, black and gray hat practitioners may well be able to still keep testing where the end of the line is. After all, if Google Penguin 4.0 is not a learning algorithm, there must be an acceptable level of spam that can be tiptoed around, don’t you think so?
Personally I would like the demotion/penalization essence of Penguin to keep on so that the risk offsets the reward of using blackhat / greyhat SEO tactics. But who knows – perhaps there’s more there is than Google is letting on.
As of now, Google Penguin 4.0 is still rolling out so it has yet to be seen how strongly it will affect SEO moving forward. How long the roll-out with be is speculated to be at 4-6 weeks from today. So if you’re seeing changes in your rankings, keep in mind that it may still fluctuate in the soon coming weeks before it stabilizes.
Other Resources you may want to read:
- The actual announcement of Google on their webmasters blog. If you want it straight from the horse’s mouth. But it’s not a horse. It’s a Penguin. Anyway just click the link, would you?
- It’s always fascinating how Dr. Pete geeks out with the numbers, data and charts. So this time he geeks out on the happenings pre and during Penguin 4.0’s rollout. If for anything else, this is worth the read just for the geekiness of it.
- The most photogenic SEO guy spells out his thoughts on the effects of Google Penguin 4.0 on SEO. He is eating popcorn towards the end of his take. Fantastic.
- If you don’t believe me, here’s Barry Schwartz and Gary Illyes on how Google Penguin 4.0 will now devalue bad/spammy links instead of demoting the entire site.