If you dabble in SEO or have had a website for any amount of time, you will probably be well aware of Google’s tendency to update its algorithm from time to time. These updates are quite often just minor adjustments and tweaks, but every so often Google come up with a blistering one to keep us on our toes, usually named after a cute cuddly animal of some description. However, there is very rarely, if ever, anything cute about a Google algorithm update, particularly a Penguin.

Penguin???

Google’s Penguin algorithm was first seen back in 2012. It acted as a filter aside from Google’s “everyday” algorithm, running periodically to discourage websites from using “black-hat” SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Websites employing such techniques saw reduced rankings as Google aimed to provide a better search experience for its users and place high quality, relevant content towards the top of its listings.

And Now???

Over the past few weeks, there has been widespread chatter across the search engine world surrounding a potential new major update to Google’s algorithm. Site owners and SEO’s saw their rankings fluctuate significantly and unexpectedly over a short period of time. Google initially put the changes down to “normal fluctuations” but it felt like more than that. Finally, on the 23rd of September, Google confirmed the release of Penguin 4.0.

Penguin 4.0 is designed to refresh in real time and be a part of Google’s core algorithm, rather than a on-the-side filter which periodically refreshes. This is good news for all concerned as it means that recovery from any “penalties” can be more swift and straightforward as Google will reevaluate these the next time it crawls your website rather than months or even years down the line. Penguin 4.0 is also designed to be more “granular” than its predecessors. What does this mean? Well it’s open to interpretation at this point as it’s still early days. However, being that previous Penguin versions would penalise entire websites in the rankings for spam like behaviours, the general train of thought seems to be that this version will just affect the rankings of pages or sections of a website. This is also good news for some.

Does this mean SEO just got easier? Probably not because it looks like link profiles will need to be monitored even more carefully than before, especially in the early phases of this update. Websites which provided good link juice when the link was built, may no longer do so if they have become low quality in some way since the link was built.

Advice?

If your website is clean in terms of SEO, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about with this update. As we always advise, page content should be informative and engaging and the associated meta data should be relevant to the page content. Keep your links natural. There is nothing wrong with building links as long as you keep in mind that one high quality link can be worth much more than several low quality, irrelevant ones. The key, as with many things, is quality.

If you would like any further advice on SEO, please feel free to get in touch.