Google Penguin, in its current form, is two years old. That's right it's been two years since the third version of Penguin came out. Google is now updating it again. The fourth version of the Penguin algorithm is set to make significant changes to the results that people get when they perform a Google search. Penguin 3.0 only hit 1% of websites, but this is set to be much bigger.
The biggest change of all is Penguin is going to operate in real-time. The new signal will be part of the core search algorithm, which is a big surprise to a lot of businesses. But what is this update and how will it impact search?
Penguin Switches to Real-Time
Google Penguin is the algorithm that captures websites that are spamming the search rankings. It was originally introduced in 2012, but until now it never operated in real-time. Spammy websites could be obliterated the moment they hit the search rankings with this new filter. Previously, it would take months to get the same effect.
And on a positive note, websites that are wrongly classified as spam now don't have to wait months to get out of jail. All the changes and all the crawling happens in real-time. Changes to the rankings will be visible faster and the alterations you make to your websites will be reflected faster.
Manipulation Just Got Harder
The fact that Google is operating faster than any human means that manipulation has never been more difficult. This will hurt a lot of industries that have a darker side to them, including the online reputation industry, where many companies rely on search engine manipulation to get results.
Matt Peters, Founder of SearchManipulator.com, a leader in the industry, told me "Google has become increasingly difficult to manipulate, making reputation management companies less successful lately. Instead of taking on fewer clients, our competitors will still accept clients they know they cannot help. We only take on clients we know we can help, and when we are unsuccessful, we have a full money-back guarantee. We are the only company I know of that does this."
Penguin Becomes Page-Specific
In a similar vein as many SEO changes, things are about to become rough. According to Google, the Penguin algorithm will become much more page-specific, as opposed to being site wide. Penguin will hit individual pages with ranking penalties, rather than entire websites.
Penguin could hit sections of a site or individual pages. That means companies can no longer rely on a specific section of a website to keep them high in the rankings. High-quality content has to be distributed equally. It could become a headache for companies that have neglected areas of their websites.
Has Penguin Gone Live Yet?
This is what so many people are asking. On the back of Penguin 4.0 Google admitted it would no longer be announcing updates. With Penguin being a constant process there's nothing to actually confirm or update because changes will be unveiled as and when they're needed.
The real-time Penguin update is unlikely to be out yet. Google said they were rolling it out and it will likely take time for it to become fully active. However, the new parameters unveiled by Penguin are probably already there. That's significant because it means that companies have to make changes now or they're going to struggle to compete in the coming weeks and months.
As everyone knows, getting out of Google jail is a nightmare.
So What Should You Do?
You may think these updates threaten the ranking of your company. If this is the case, you should think about whether you're really doing all you can to deliver quality content. Penguin 4.0 could be the wakeup call you need to begin making the necessary changes to your website.
The first step in the process should involve a full content audit. Comb over your content and make sure none of it is breaking Google's rules. This is the minimum needed to not get banned, but it's not going to ensure you rank well. Content that conforms to the rules can still be low-quality.
Look at your existing content and think about whether it adds real value to your site. Do your customers respond well to it and are they engaging with that content in the first place?
Fix your content and the new Google Penguin update should be an advantage not a hindrance.