Our clients have been seeing significant changes in their SEO rankings this month. Google was silent, but we knew something big was coming.

Sure enough, as of September 23, 2016, the final update of Google’s Penguin Algorithm was officially announced.

And it has serious significance for you if you’re using SEO as a marketing strategy.

WHAT IS GOOGLE PENGUIN?

From 2011 to 2013, Google released three algorithms codenamed Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

The object was to penalize websites using black-hat SEO tactics (tactics that violate Google’s Best Practices) by decreasing their search engine rankings.

The Penguin Algorithm dealt specifically with unnatural backlinks, which affected 3.1% of all search results. The goal of Penguin was to ensure that the highest quality websites rank at the top of search results.

PENGUIN 4.0 – UPDATES IN REAL TIME

After much waiting and a few false alarms, Penguin 4.0 is finally here! And it is said to be the final update. Why? Because Penguin is now REAL TIME.

Google stated yesterday that Penguin is now part of their core algorithm, which means that every time they recrawl or reindex a page, it is refreshed in the Penguin algorithm as well.

Because it’s constantly refreshing, there will no longer be another web-wide update. This also means Google will not be “confirming” updates, because they’ll be happening constantly.

“With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page.” – Gary Illyes, Google Search Ranking Team

PENGUIN 4.0 – RANKING IS MORE “GRANULAR”

Google also says that Penguin 4.0 is more “granular.” What does that even mean?

Actually, there’s quite a bit of debate on that. Here’s their statement:

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

Originally, many thought this meant that ranking was affected on a page-by-page basis, however, John Mueller from Google has rebutted this by stating that, “It affects finer granularity than sites. It does not mean it only affects pages.”

It seems we’ll just have to see how things play out in order to fully grasp the ramifications of this more “granular” approach.

However, we can assume that whatever it is, this Penguin update is meant to treat sites with far more scrutiny, operating at a “finer” level of catching spam signals.

WHAT DOES 4.0 MEAN FOR YOUR SEO?

This is good news for those looking to recover from a Penguin penalty.

Up until now, websites that were penalized by Penguin for their links remained so for months, and in some cases, over a year. Now, site rankings will decrease or increase much faster.

On the other hand, it means that those of us in the SEO game must be more vigilant in maintaining the quality of our backlinks. Rankings could drop overnight if we don’t stay on top of things.

Of course, if you were using PPC ads to drive traffic, this may not bother you so much!

WHAT IF YOUR SEO RANKING DROPPED?

This question may have some serious implications for your SEO Marketing provider. If you’ve experienced a significant drop in ranking, it may be due to Black Hat SEO tactics being used by your SEO marketing team.

But before you go firing your team, you need to consider their tactics. It is quite possible that a team you used long ago is now coming back to haunt you. If this is you, then you will need to disavow your spammy links, which can be identified through your Google Webmaster Tools console.

However, if your current SEO team is producing spammy links, or even worse – if you’ve lost ranking and they’ve been keeping their tactics a secret from you for this whole time, we’d recommend switching companies.

If your SEO team hasn’t adjusted their strategies by now, then you’re going to fall behind if you don’t start up with a company that has been working hard to stay ahead of the Google Penguin curve.

Feel free to reach out to us – our advice is always free! Or learn more about our proven SEO methods here.