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Papercut Interactive
Valerie Valerie Dec 09, 2016

An Overview of Google’s Penguin 4.0

The nerdy stuff

penguin-4For two years, webmasters of penalized sites have waited for another release of the Penguin update, and they are finally free! Well, for the most part.

In late September, Google began rolling out the latest version of the algorithm update, known as Penguin 4.0. Its function is still to detect spammy websites, especially those with bad links or shady link-building practices, but the latest version is a faster, friendlier update that “refreshes data in real-time.”

Real-time Penguin

Google’s ultimate goal with Penguin has always been to quickly catch “unsafe” sites. However, earlier Penguin updates only filtered sites periodically, meaning search results were scanned inconsistently. So, if a website improved say, by removing bad links, it could remain captive for years until the next refresh.

With Penguin 4.0, the update is officially baked into Google’s core algorithm, meaning things can move much faster. It now filters pages as they are recrawled, so sites are being penalized and recovered in “real time.”

Penguin Is “Granular,” Not Page-Specific?

It’s not unlike Google to be vague about the “secret formula” of their algorithm, and here’s where things start to get foggy.  

Google describes Penguin 4.0 as “more granular”:

Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.

“Spam signals” add to the hundreds of undefined factors that make up Google’s core algorithm. This doesn’t mean Google now only penalizes individual pages. It does, however, mean that Google will (most likely) not demote your entire site. Penguin’s new spam ranking system can impact whole pages, but it can also impact or devalue sections of many different pages.

How Real-time Penguin Affects SEO

As always, Google is constantly working to provide the most reliable search results possible. Penguin 4.0 ensures SEOs stay on their toes, constantly providing safe and quality content. However, if a slip-up does occur, this new, “real-time” Penguin makes detection and recovery much quicker.

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