In the world of SEO, new Google updates are a huge news. These periodic algorithm changes might be named after cute, cuddly animals, but they have a history of seriously shaking up the digital marketing world. A new update can have a profound impact on the way that web pages rank in the SERPs. Many businesses or SEO consultants have seen one of their websites shoot up in the rankings in the wake of a previous update — or, more concerningly, have seen their rankings suddenly plummet.
If you follow SEO news at all, you probably know that Google recently unleashed Penguin 4.0. If you’re not into SEO, you’re probably wondering what Antarctic seabirds have to do with search engines. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about the recent Penguin 4.0 update: what it is, what it does, and how it might impact your website.
What is Penguin, and What Does It Do?
Penguin is a codename for a series of updates to Google’s search algorithm. Penguin’s first edition was released back in 2012. The reason for its existence was that many “black hat” SEO “self proclaimed experts” were using spammy, manipulative techniques to increase the number of backlinks to their websites. This resulted in spammy, low quality content on the first page, which creates a bad user experience.
Penguin was designed to penalize sites that used those techniques, kicking them off of the front page to make room for better, more valuable content that wasn’t breaking Google’s SEO rules.
What’s Changed with Penguin 4.0?
The biggest change with Penguin 4.0 is that it runs in real time. In the past, Google ran the Penguin algorithm intermittently, usually once every few months. That created a slow appeal process that was difficult for website owners to deal with.
If your website had been penalized by Penguin, you could clean up your act, remove shady backlinks, and make sure your website adhered to Google guidelines. Many businesses have fallen victim to shady SEO companies who use blackhat techniques, resulting in a penalty for their website. At Midas, we have plenty of experience cleaning up the messes that sketchy consultants have made.
Because Penguin ran so infrequently, it took months for a cleaned-up site to get re-evaluated and back into Google’s good graces. To be reconsidered, you had to wait until Google ran Penguin again. That’s up to six months of invisibility in the search results, lost customers, and lost income. It didn’t help that previous Penguin versions would penalize an entire website, not just the offending pages.
Penguin 4.0 is part of Google’s core algorithm, removing the excruciating wait time. This means that you don’t have to wait for months to get a Penguin penalty lifted, just until the next time Google crawls and indexes your website. That means that if you end up with sketchy pages linking to your website, you don’t have to wait months after disavowing them. It also means, however, that if you get spammy backlinks today, your site could be penalized tomorrow.
Is My Website’s Google Ranking in Danger?
When Google releases a major algorithm update like Penguin 4.0, there’s a lot of chatter in the SEO community. Some people do get worried. But here’s the thing: Penguin is designed to combat spam. It stops shady black hat SEO techniques from inflating a website’s backlink profile with spammy, meaningless links. It makes it harder to cheat the system.
The best way to avoid a Penguin penalty, or any other Google penalty, is to play by the rules. At Midas, that’s what we do. We use approved, legitimate white hat techniques to improve your website’s search visibility. Instead of trying to cheat and cut corners, we take the time to create great content, ensure that your website has the right on-page optimization, and cultivate a strong profile of meaningful backlinks from real authority sites in your industry.
When you’re with us, your website is in good hands. As long as you, or your digital marketing agency, don’t break the rules with black hat techniques, your site will stay safe from Penguin 4.0 and other future algorithm updates.