Penguin 4.0 – What will be the impact?

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There is a bit of a buzz at the moment over the eagerly anticipated Penguin 4.0 Google update and what the perceived algorithm is going to bring.  There is talk that Penguin 4.0 is going to be an update that will introduce the algorithm ‘real-time’ without the need for further updates, an algorithm that will continually run.  This is not guaranteed to happen at this update but the rumours and anticipation are for a real-time environment very soon.  There is a lot of speculation.

What is Penguin?Penguin 4.0 Killing Spam

The key moments are:

In April 2012 Google released an algorithm called Penguin 1.0 which was rolled out in order to hit sites that were spamming and using unnatural link building methods in order to artificially rank well.  It came to light at a later date that this update only looked at the link profiles leading to the homepage of a domain.

Then on the 22nd May 2012 Google released Penguin 2.0.  This was a different beast that looked at the internal pages of a site.  This also took into consideration manipulating anchor text in order to target and artificially rank specific internal pages. The impact of these updates on websites was pretty immense.

On around the 18th October 2014 Google released Penguin 3.0 which was a refresh, rather than an update with new or amended signals.  This release rolled out over a period of months.

Historically there have been 6 Penguin releases to date, such as Penguin 2.1.


There seems to be a general consensus that the Penguin 4.0 update we are expecting is not going to be as severe as the first updates, with the majority of the talk focussing on the element of Penguin becoming real-time and continually running.  Nikolay Stoyanov has a comprehensive collection of Penguin 4.0 opinions from some of the most reputable names in the industry.

But what could this potentially mean for website owners out there?   There is (potential) good news and bad news.

Good News

  • Pengiuin 4.0 has the potential to continually reach a higher proportion of sites using techniques such as PBNs (Private Blog Network).
  • Having a competitor point a PBN at you for negative impact will be picked up straight away if the update becomes real-time.
  • It will be possible to test different link development methods (not suggesting manipulative) and quickly roll-back if the algorithm doesn’t like.
  • Bad practice SEO guys will find it even harder to rank sites, finding they are continually chasing their tails as Penguin will continually check the link profile
  • No more waiting for months for the update and the Disavow file to kick in.  Quicker Penguin recovery.

Bad News

  • Potentially bad news for spammers and SEO manipulation.
  • Views on the update are all speculation and the update may hit sites that in the main have conducted very clean SEO.
  • Google does not release Penguin 4.0 or bring it real-time


In conclusion I believe that if you stay clear of PBNs and manipulative linking tactics, create great content that people want to share there will be nothing to fear from Penguin 4.0.  On the contrary, if it does become a real time constant there are potential opportunities to take advantage of the update on a continual basis.  Penguin 4.0 could be your friend.  We will just have to wait and see.








2 Responses to "Penguin 4.0 – What will be the impact?"
  1. Mike, thanks for mentioning my roundup in your topic. We’re all waiting for Penguin 4 to go live, but whether it’s doing to be live or not.. I am reading different opinions. We’ll wait and see, but I expect it with impatience :) Cheers!

  2. Mick Edwards says:

    What interests me is the quote from Gary Illyes that there will be no lag when Disavow is submitted. I guess that is as close to a promise we can get.

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