Penguin 4.0 (AKA Penguin 7) is Google’s highly awaited update to the Penguin algorithm. It’s being rolled out in the coming days, and will most likely be at least partially implemented by October 2016.
One of the major touted changes in 4.0 is a real-time updating methodology to the algorithm, which means that users will no longer need to wait months before their website is reindexed properly. All changes will be reviewed near-instantaneously, meaning SERPs (search engine results pages) will provide more reliable feedback for statisticians and searchers alike.
Penguin 4.0 promises to penalise individual web pages rather than entire websites, as was the case with Penguin’s previous iteration. Entire sites will no longer be demoted unless the algorithm detects a long-term spam effort. Bad links or even black cat attempts will no longer result in lower SERP statistics.
The changes are much more likely to be gradually implemented rather than instantaneous.
Gary Illyes from the company has said in a Facebook post that the new Penguin algorithm “manages to devalue spam instead of demoting.” He also said that Google’s recommendation for using the disavow file has not changed, and that webmasters should use the disavow file to help recover from Penguin-related issues, particularly if they feel that their website has been unfairly targeted by the algorithms.
The role of Penguin is to encourage webmasters to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when building their websites. The purpose of these guidelines is tRo reduce and eventually eradicate the incidence of spam or low-value content in Google’s search results. Since the vast majority of online browsing owes some credit to Google, it’s fair to assume that Penguin is responsible for online content etiquette and even culture.
By Google’s estimates, Penguin affects around 3.1% of search queries in English, about 3% of queries in languages like German, Chinese, and Arabic, and yet a larger percentage of queries in ‘highly spammed’ languages.
Last year, John Mueller from Google implied that Penguin’s penalty can be avoided entirely by simply building good links on a website. This can be done by removing bad links manually or by using Google’s Disavow tool, followed by a Google reconsideration request. Mueller went further by stating that the algorithm operates by looking at the ratio of good links versus bad links. Building better links is likely to lead to a more favourable outcome from the algorithm, so as always, the best way to practice good SEO is to clean your website up according to the guidelines. Removing bad links is a good place to start.