A Holistic View on Penguin Update 4.0 [IMHO]

It’s been a little more than two weeks that Google came out with its latest real-time penguin update. There are quite a few things that are different from the previous updates, and this may be the reason why I believe penguin 4.0 is much more important than any other similar update.

  • It’s real-time

I have to agree with Cory Collins here. Although Google used the word ‘real-time’, the results won’t be as instant as you may think. It will take Google some time to re-crawl your website and also the site you are getting a link from. This can take from a few days to a week, depending on how fast Google crawler comes to your site.

Yes, we don’t really have to wait for the next update but saying that the results would be instant is definitely not correct either.

  • Penguin is a part of the core algorithm

I think it’s safe to assume that from now on, penguin is a ranking signal. In simple words, if you get a link from a spammy site or have used unethical tactics to acquire links, you will probably see a drop in rankings within the following days and weeks.

I think this was always the case. The only difference is that now Google will be able to adjust their algo much more quickly instead of taking months and years to do the same.

  • Penguin is becoming more granular

Let me explain this in simple English. From now onwards, Google will focus on specific pages and links pointing to particular pages instead of domains. If one part or a few pages on your website have toxic links, they are the only ones to see a decrease in rankings, and the whole domain won’t be affected.

So, what you expect from this penguin penalty?

I have seen a positive change on our website and as well as that of our clients’. Maybe because most of our link acquiring tactics revolve around outreaching and creating quality content to gain links instead of building artificial links to manipulate Google rankings.

But I have seen websites that faced a bit of a decline and there were couple of people who reached out to me for advice about what they should do to regain their rankings. I recently did a detailed post on what you should be doing if you have been penalized. Here the link.

Here are the few things you can expect out of this real-time penguin penalty.

  • Google will get much more smarter with time

With real-time penguin penalty and disavow link data continuously building up, Google will get much more smart at understanding which link is good and what should be considered as artificial (bad) link. No, I am not saying spammers are all going to die soon but their job is definitely going to get much tougher.

  • Think pages and not domains only

As explained above, Google will be looking in depth at each page of every website, and the penalty we see from now onwards might not be domain level but on certain parts of a website. This clearly means that putting mediocre links on internal pages and making the homepage link profile all glittery might not work anymore… even worse, it might hurt certain parts of your site.

  • Mediocre will not be an option for link builders

There was a time (let’s be honest here) we all went for a link that’s just ok and not because we don’t care but we knew that with one mediocre link, our rankings would not going to drop. Today, with penguin 4.0, every link on every page of the website matters.

Now, link builders can’t just go for an ‘ok’ link on a product page just simply because their domain level link profile is strong. This won’t work anymore.

Impact on SEO Industry as a whole?

Obviously, link building is the backbone of SEO and with penguin as part of the core algorithm, there will be a sizable change on the industry as a whole.

  • Link Building Services will become more expensive

You can’t build or earn a link that just mediocre. You continuously have to put your efforts to get the highest quality links not only on the home page but on category and product pages as well. Basically, if you are a link building company or agency, you can’t build a mix of good and mediocre links which is why you have to put more efforts into a campaign which obviously will take more of your time. And, time is money.

In my opinion, link-building companies will charge more for helping businesses acquire conversion centric links. Wait, isn’t this what Rand Fishkin said in this last speech at MozCon 2016? 🙂

  • Agencies and In-house people will have more R&D budget

Agencies and even companies who have their digital marketing departments in-house will spend more on training their employees with advanced tactics and those who ignore the training aspect will suffer in the long run.

  • Link and SEO Audits will be a routine job

Businesses usually look for SEO audits when they are planning to change their website or their rankings have been seriously affected. Or maybe just because they have to spend their marketing budget somewhere :).

No, but honestly, businesses don’t take audit suggestions seriously but after penguin at least link profile aspect of the SEO audit needs to be considered important. You just can’t say we are ranking good, why dive into the hassle of removing spammy links…

You have to, because if you don’t it will be a matter of weeks and months when you see a dip in your rankings (at least on some parts of your website).

Last Words

Its only been 2 weeks and I have read and seen more than a 100 articles on different websites already. Some of them were really worth reading. One thing is definite; penguin real time is an important update and considering this as just any other regular update from Google might hurt your rankings and business.

Penguin update needs to be taken seriously. Investigate what was the impact on your website (it could be positive if you were doing right things naturally) but if not, contact your SEO agency or hire one that can help you strategize the road map to get over with penalty and get your rankings back.

The best part is that penguin is real-time and part of the core algorithm now so the best strategy will take you back in rankings within weeks and months.

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