The Last Time to P-P-Pickup a Penalty? : The Latest Google News from Metalfrog

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The latest announced release, Penguin 4.0, will also be the last, given its new real-time nature.

After (nearly) a two year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated . It is the 4th major release, making this Penguin 4.0. It will also be 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. It was first see in 2012, and has been modified periodically ever since.

The Penguin filter catches and highlights sites deemed as carrying SPAM content. A penalty was imposed in the form of loss of ranking – or in some extreme cases loss of URL on the index altogether.These URLs remained penalised even if they improved and changed until the next time the filter ran, which has, in many cases, taken a very long time.

The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17th, 2014. Any websites which have been hit by this have waited nearly two years for the chance to be re-indexed. A long time indeed to suffer a penalty!

This type of lengthy delay is now set to become a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin becomes real-time. As Google re-crawls and re-indexes pages — which happens often — those pages will be visited and audited by the Penguin filter. These pages will be captured and either allowed to be indexed, or reassigned to the SPAM bin.

As Google said in its post:

With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page.

Penguin becomes more URL-specific, not site-wide only

Google also said this new Penguin algorithm is “more granular.” From its post:

Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.

Previously, Penguin was a site-wide penalty. So, does being “more granular” mean that it’s now page-specific? The answer is actually yes and no. Google was asked for more clarity in this area and retorted:

It means it affects finer granularity than sites. It does not mean it only affects pages.

So this may mean that Penguin (could) impact specific pages on a site, or it (could) impact sections or categories of a site, while other URLs are left untouched.

Google is no longer going to confirm Penguin updates

Google said that, with this update, it will no longer confirm any future Penguin amendments. If this is a continual process this makes absolute common sense – as there will actually be nothing to confirm!

Is Penguin live now?

Probably not, is the short answer. It is “rolling out now” Google said. Google didn’t tell us how long it may take to roll out, but you can probably wager that this will not be a drawn out process The likelihood is that this will happen within 2-3 weeks, tops. If Google visits your URLs often – due to great hosting, fresh and engaging content etc., then you are more likely to see the change occur in a quicker time frame than more stagnant sites.

Some swore they saw this roll out yesterday, but Google would not confirm this officially.

Past Penguin updates

For those who love time lines and their update history, we provide you with a list of Penguin updates over time, as well as the impact which they have had on search queries, according to Google:

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 4.0 & real-time on September 23, 2016

Penguin 4.0, Google would not give a specific number of the percentage of queries it impacted, mostly because the update is constantly happening and the percentage will constantly be changing.

Of course our SEO agency is always on the ball where algorithm updates are concerned, so if you have any questions please just get in touch at or call 01603 819136 for a free website/SEO health check.
Hope that helps.
Chris Wheeler

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