The Google Penguin 4.0 update explained

Google released the Penguin 4.0 update on September 23rd 2016. What exactly is the Penguin, and how can you prevent your website from getting hit by the arctic bird?

The initial release of Google Penguin goes way back to 2012. Penguin, Google’s nickname for the search engine spam filter, will punish websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. In general it means that if you use bad and spammy (SEO) practices to get better results in search engines, you’ll get punished by the Penguin with a lower search engine position. So be ware of SEO companies that promise high search engine ranking in a short period of time or purchasing a set of backlinks. Your high ranking won’t last long after Google Penguin found out about your website’s spammy practices.

What’s so special about the Penguin 4.0 update

Penguin 4.0 is a rolling release, meaning it is now part of Google’s search engine core. This is great news as before every release was a new one with updated algorithms. And if your site was hit by the previous Penguin, you had to wait until the next release to have your spam mark cleared. Sometimes you had to wait for two years! Can you imagine the effect on some business websites that were hit.

[bctt tweet=”Google just released another Penguin. Time to flap our wings”]

Now, with the rolling release it will be much quicker to have your spam mark cleared after you made the necessary changes, so it works both ways.

The goal of the Penguin filter is to have higher quality websites listed higher in the search results, with more focus towards mobile responsive websites.

How will the Google Penguin 4.0 update affect your website listing?

Backlinks are an important factor of the success status of your website in Google. This will tell the search engine giant that your website contains useful information or… not. The wrong kind of backlinks may seriously harm your website listing.

If your business website currently has a lot of backlinks from low ranking websites or a paid blogging link network, than it is time to remove these links. Seriously, having links on low quality websites can drag your website down substantially. There used to be a time where you can suddenly climb high in Google’s search results by purchasing backlinks. Nowadays you better think twice before you invest your money in this. Hence, it’s like making an investment for your own website degradation.

So, let’s say you have some links to your website that is dragging your business down. How do you remove them from somebody else’s website? One way is to contact the webmaster and request him/her to remove your link, but this can be very time consuming. A better way is to disavow the links. You actually tell Google that a website is linking to you without your approval. Disavowing links should be done very carefully, as the wrong move might hurt your website even more. It will be better to ask your search engine optimization specialist to disavow low quality links.

Read more about how to disavow links on Google Search Console

Good news is that with the new Penguin 4.0 update, the low quality websites that link to you will get punished and your website will not get penalized anymore. Disavowing links will most likely be less necessary as before

Your business website can also get punished if it makes use of pop-up screens on mobile devices. Pop-up screens in other devices are still OK. If your website currently produces pop-ups in mobile devices, it is time to ask your webmaster to have them appear only on non-mobile devices.

Google Penguin 4.0 SEO factors

How to find out if your website got hit by a Google Penguin or Panda update?

The best way to find out if you were hit by a Penguin or Panda update – The Panda algorithm separate low quality from high quality websites in Google’s listing – is to do some research in your website analytics. Seeing a sudden drop in website traffic, aligned with a Penguin or Panda release date can help pointing you into the right direction. Be sure to check Google Search Console to check if there’s a traffic drop for certain keywords. You can also make use of the following online tools to determine if your site was hit by an algorithm update.

Focus on building your brand, not on creating links

The best way to avoid getting hit by the new Penguin 4.0 update is to focus on building your brand in an organic way. Really, if you focus on links or spam, your website will get punished sooner or later. Your website content should be unique, a cloned website is up for punishment as well. Building a SEO optimized, responsive website with an organic SEO approach will be beneficial in the long run.

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Noud is an experienced web developer and founder of Data Roots. His passion is to develop high-quality websites for his customers that will last for many years. Noud's got 20 years experience developing websites for companies of all sizes and loves to help. Contact Noud.

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