A Penguin’s Tale: Responding to the latest update

For the last four-plus years now, we’ve heard a lot about Penguin. Initially announced in April 2012, we were told that this algorithm update, designed to combat web spam, would impact three percent of queries.
More recently, we’ve witnessed frustration on the part of penalized website owners at having to wait over a year for an update, after Google specifically noted one was coming “soon” in October of 2015.
In all the years of discussion around Penguin, however, I don’t believe any update has been more fraught with confusing statements and misinformation than Penguin 4.0, the most recent update. The biggest culprit here is Google itself, which has not been consistent in its messaging.
And this is the subject of this article: the peeling away of some of the recent misstated or just misunderstood aspects of this update, and more importantly, what it means for website owners and their SEOs.
So, let’s begin.
What is Penguin?
Note: We’re going to keep this section short and sweet — if you want something

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Penguin 4.0: Necessary and positive improvement

Penguin 4.0 was announced on September 23, and I couldn’t be more excited. I believe Penguin 4 will be a boon for (legitimate) SEO companies everywhere.
We had to wait over 700 days for the newest iteration of Penguin; it was a long time coming, but now that it’s here, it’s more than I hoped. There a few reasons I welcome this new Penguin with open arms:

The algorithm now devalues links rather than punishing sites.
Penguin is baked into Google’s core algorithm, updating in real time.
The feasibility of negative SEO is greatly diminished.
The new Penguin is more granular.
Penguin 4.0 pushes SEO closer to real marketing.

Penguin 4.0 is the relief many sites have waited over two years for. As an SEO, I’ve never anticipated an algorithm update as much.
Note: Non-graph embedded tweets are paraphrased quotes from a conversation between Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes and Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting at Pubcon 2016 in Las Vegas.
The algorithm now

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Google updates Penguin, says now runs in real-time within the core search algorithm

After a nearly two year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated again. It’s the fourth major release, making this Penguin 4.0. It’s also the last release of this type, as Google now says Penguin is a real-time signal processed within its core search algorithm.
Penguin goes real-time
Penguin is a filter designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spamming systems might not detect. Introduced in 2012, it has operated on a periodic basis.
In other words, the Penguin filter would run and catch sites deemed spammy. Those sites would remain penalized even if they improved and changed until the next time the filter ran, which could take months.
The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17, 2014. Any sites hit by it have waited nearly two years for the chance to be free.
Those long delays are now to be a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin

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How many days has it been since the last Google Penguin Update?

The Google Penguin Update is a filter designed to help Google combat severe forms of spam in its search results. This page tells you how long it has been since the last Penguin Update, which is helpful for those hoping to escape the penalty.
Penguin operates on a periodic basis. When it happens, it catches and penalizes a set of sites. It also releases some sites previously caught, if they’ve reformed themselves in a way that Google likes.
During the time between updates, any sites penalized by Penguin remain that way until a fresh update happens. Even if they correct problem areas, the penalty carries on until the next Penguin update happens. That’s a wait that can last for over a year.
Below is our clock that counts the days since the last Penguin update:

Here are the exact dates of all Penguin Updates since the filter was first developed by Google:
Here are dates of all Penguin releases and the time elapsed from the

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Google: New Penguin Algorithm Update Not Happening Until Next Year

Although everyone, including us, was expecting the Google Penguin update to happen by the end of this year, Google just informed Search Engine Land that because of the holidays, the update won’t be released until next year.
A Google spokesperson told us today, “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.”
The next Penguin update is expected to be real-time, meaning as soon as Google discovers the links to your site, be they bad or good links, the Penguin algorithm will analyze those links in real time, and ranking changes should happen in almost real time.
Penguin will continuously update, as opposed to SEOs and webmasters having to wait months or even years for Google to update it. The last official Penguin update, Penguin 3.0 happened on October 17, 2014, more than 13 months ago.
So webmasters will need to wait and be a bit more patient, as it won’t be released this year.
The post

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How To Prep For The Pending Penguin Update & Ensure You’re Penalty Free In 2016

Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed on Twitter that we’ll be graced with the next Penguin update before the end of 2015.

@Andrew_Isidoro yes
— Gary Illyes (@methode) October 28, 2015

This means that all of those webmasters who were hit by the last Penguin update (in December 2014, mind you) now have the chance of recovery, since historically, this update hasn’t been refreshed automatically.
This next Penguin update should also be a real-time version, so as Google detects spammy links, sites may be impacted immediately — and when spammy links are removed, those sites may see a more immediate recovery.
While I want to believe in my heart of hearts that spammy links aren’t an issue anymore, and the whole industry has adopted above-the-board, clean linking strategies, I know that’s not the case. With every algorithm update comes a host of winners and losers, and I’m sure this next Penguin release will be no different.
I know auditing your link profile isn’t always top-of-mind, especially

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Google: We Are Working On Making The Penguin Update Happen Continuously

At SMX Advanced, Google’s Gary Illyes announced that Google is working toward a continuously running Penguin update. He admitted that Penguin currently runs slowly, but said Google is working to make it update in real time. If that happens, the algorithm will get data that is refreshed all the time. Currently, the data has to be manually refreshed to see any ranking changes for sites impacted by Penguin.
Illyes explained it is hard for Google to do this right now because it requires a lot of reworking of the algorithm. But that is their goal, to make the Penguin algorithm run by itself, without manually refreshing any data. Illyes said this kind of change is months away and didn’t estimate a date for when webmasters can expect this change.
He also said that Google doesn’t see the update Panda ever running continuously, but rather requiring a manual data refresh.
The post Google: We Are Working On Making The Penguin Update

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Google: We Are Trying To Update The Data For Panda & Penguin Faster

It has been several months since we had either a Penguin or Panda algorithmic refresh from Google and the natives, aka webmasters, are getting restless. As we covered, the algorithms may be real time, but those hit by one of these algorithmic penalties cannot recover until the underlining data is refreshed, and that data has not been refreshed in a relatively long time.
Google told us prior to the Penguin 3.0 release that they are working updating the algorithm so it updates more frequently. Now, Google is telling us again, eight months later, they are still working on making these two algorithms refresh faster.
John Mueller, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, said in a Google+ hangout, about at the 25 minute mark, “that is something we are definitely working on to kind of update that data again to make it a little bit faster,” in regards to having the data refresh more often for the Panda and Penguin algorithms.
Here is

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