By Victoria C. | Solution21 | Director of Content Marketing

Understanding Google Penguin 4.0 Update and Its Impact on Your Practice

Algorithm is a set of 200 signals that Google has developed to evaluate a website’s or a page’s importance and rank the search results based on users’ queries. The signals include things like the specific words that are contained on the websites, the freshness and relevance of the content, location and more. Google’s algorithms are updated periodically to deliver more relevant results to users, as well as prevent search engine optimization (SEO) specialists from manipulating the system using black hat SEO strategies, aggressive tactics that are focused more on tricking the search engines and not in providing the best information to the users, and break the search engine guidelines in order to influence search engine results page (SERP) and achieve higher page ranking.

Penguin Updates

Since 2000, Google has been changing its search algorithm annually, with hundreds of minor updates in between. Major algorithmic changes— such as Panda, Hummingbird and Penguin— introduced significant changes in order to deliver more targeted results for users. These changes impacted online rankings and organic website traffic of dental and medical practices, as well as other businesses, considerably.

Google released the Penguin 1.0 in 2012 as a search filter to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search engine results, by buying or obtaining links to boost their Google rankings. Panda updates allow search engine to see which sites have relevant, fresh and beneficial content and should receive a higher ranking. The last major update to this algorithm occurred with Penguin 3.0 in October of 2013. Here’s a rundown on Penguin updates and their impact on search queries:

Penguin 1.0- April 24, 2012- Impacting ~3.1% of search queries
Penguin 1.1- May 26, 2012- Impacting less than 0.1% of search queries
Penguin 1.2- October 5, 2012- Impacting ~0.3% of search queries
Penguin 2.0- May 22, 2013- Impacting 2.3% of search queries
Penguin 2.1- Oct. 4, 2013- Impacting around 1% of search queries
Penguin 3.0- October 17, 2014- Impacting around 1% of search queries
Penguin 4.0- September 23, 2016

Penguin 4.0 Key Changes

After nearly two years, Google announced on its blog last Friday, September 23, that Penguin 4.0 is now part of its core algorithm. Below are the key changes being introduced in Penguin 4.0:

Penguin is now real-time- With Penguin 4.0 going real-time and being part of Google’s core algorithm, pages will be assessed by the Penguin filter and will be caught and/or freed accordingly as part of this regular process. This means that with data being refreshed in real-time, changes in rankings will be visible much faster after every recrawling and reindexing of pages. The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, which happened on October 17, 2014, websites that have been negatively impacted by it waited almost two years for the chance to be free. And because it now works in real time, Penguin 4.0 algorithm update is expected to be last.

Penguin is more “granular” or page-specific- Penguin 4.0 adjusts ranking based on spam signals of individual pages, rather than of the entire site. In previous Penguin versions, site-wide penalty was imposed if spam signal was found on a page, affecting the ranking of the whole site.

Penguin addresses websites of all languages, not just English.

Penguin’s Impact on Your Website Ranking

If your website adheres to Google’s best practices in search engine optimization and have trustworthy links and provides relevant information to your users, the Penguin will not negatively impact your website ranking. In fact, you may even see a boost in your ranking if other sites currently ranking better than you are determined to be spamming the search engine and using inappropriate tactics to rank their websites. If your SEO agency uses automated programs or spammy strategies to generate backlinks to your site to keep you on the first page, there’s a big chance your site ranking may take a nosedive. Of course, there are and free tools and proper steps you can take to help your site recover, and cleaning up your backlink is one of them.

Solution21 delivers results with its SEO and digital marketing services for dental and medical practices. We help optimize your online presence using keyword analysis, content development and legitimate SEO strategies. Our team of SEO experts abides by Google’s guidelines and best practices in SEO to improve rankings and organic website traffic. If you want to learn more about the Penguin 4.0 update or need help with your SEO, please call Solution21 today at (888) 423-9235!

Sources provided for research:

Google Webmasters Blog – Penguin is now part of our Core

Smart Insights – Penguin 4.0 New Algorithm Update

Search Engine Roundtable – Google Penguin 4.0, The Real Time Penguin Algorithm Is Live

Moz Blog – Penguin 4.0: Was It Worth the Wait?