Finally, after what seems like years (in fact it has been years), Google has announced the release of the newest, and last, Penguin algorithm update.
It’s the last one, because as of this update, Penguin has gone from a filter that was occasionally run on search results (the last time was in 2014), to part of the core algorithm functionality, which means it will run constantly.
What Is Penguin?
Penguin was the algorithm update that shook the foundations of SEO. It was targeted at link spam, and what it meant was that all those low quality, irrelevant off-site links that bad SEO’s built for their clients with a raft of dodgy techniques suddenly didn’t just stop helping those sites rank, but could actually actively harm them.
Penguin led to countless Google penalties for bad linking practices, and the only thing you could do about it was clean up your link profile, remove bad, irrelevant or paid links, disavow spammy domains that linked to you, and wait and pray that Google would run the filter again and that your efforts would be enough to get the penalty lifted.
As I mentioned up there, Penguin was a manual filter that had to be run. So even after you disavowed domains or removed links, it still wasn’t going to “heal” your link profile, until Google re-ran the filter and re-evaluated the links pointing to your site.
Then Google offered the holy grail. The next version of Penguin, they said, would be real-time. So if you removed a link from a bad source, that removal would automatically reflect (almost) immediately, and you could recover from past poor practices without having to wait for them to do it manually.
Then nothing happened for the next couple of years.
Core Algorithm Update
Now, after several false starts, announcements, and inevitable delays, the new update is here. And it’s not just here, but it’s permanent and real-time as well. Google’s core algorithm is made up of the 200+ (admitted to) signals which the search engine considers every time it decides which websites to show you in search results.
When Google changes things, they can do it as a filter on top of that core algorithm, which usually has to be applied individually and although it affects everything, it isn’t flexible…it will simply apply that rule on top of the others.
The other way is to make it a part of the core algorithm, the way that the Panda update (reducing rankings for low quality sites) was added.
Now Penguin too is part of those 200+ signals Google looks at, and the real advantage here, is that those signals are re-evaluated every time that Google crawls your site to index it.
Sites that were affected by previous Penguin updates (penalised for poor quality links) could do nothing except remove those links, and then wait for the filter to be re-applied so they could find out if the penalty was removed.
As such, everybody should be happy to know that this is no longer the case.
Now Google will re-evaluate all your links (potentially even links to specific pages) whenever they index the site. That means that if you get penalised for poor links, and get those links removed (or disavowed), the next time your site is crawled, the changes should reflect immediately.
It took them two years since the last update to implement it, but webmasters all over the world are no doubt heaving a sigh of relief.