November 4, 2015

The (possible) Google Penguin 4.0 update and what it (possibly) means

Digital marketers across the community have been stressing over Google Penguin in 2015 – even more so than the usual level of anxiety. But the additional worry is not because of the action Google has taken with the revenue-determining algorithm, but instead, it’s the lack thereof.

It has been more than a year since Google updated Penguin, and since then, there have been all kinds of speculation about when the next major update would be. Now finally, in a simple one-word Tweet by Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyist for Google, webmasters can expect a new roll-out before the end of the year, but with caution.

Illyes had already told Search Engine Journal back in July that the update was months away, but with little detail to offer at the time.

According to John Mueller back in September, the latest version of Penguin will create updates in real-time, so link profiles getting cleaned up will automatically be recognized without having to wait for another update. That also means that penalties can immediately happen as well. It should be said that Illyes “hopes” that the real-time feature will happen this year, so it’s hard to say that it is indeed confirmed.

No holding breaths on the update

In the comment forum of a related article on SEO Roundtable, one user made a strong point about the past inconsistencies pertaining to Google’s Penguin and Panda updates.

“Panda was supposed to be monthly until it suddenly wasn’t, and I’m not holding my breath waiting for Penguin to be realtime either. We’ll be lucky if it updates anytime soon, and even luckier if unlike the last one anybody even notices the update,” said Thomas Steves.

While it’s hard to say that Google ever intended Panda to be a monthly update, Steves does make his point about anyone noticing updates at all. Although blackhat tactics continue to be used across the board, most updates seem to trigger a rather small portion of search results.

So if this update does indeed happen with the hopeful real-time feature, webmasters could potentially see absolutely no effect on their traffic, and if they do, they should be able to quickly fix any issues. For now, it’s probably best to not get too excited about this update until we actually see it happen.

As mentioned in other publications, Google tends to not push major updates around the Holiday season, perhaps mainly out of mercy for businesses. If there really is an update before the end of the year, webmasters all over should hope that the real-time feature is already in place.


  • gary illyes, google, google penguin, SEO,


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