Speaking before an audience at the SMX East earlier this month, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes said that the next Penguin update will most likely be rolled out by the end of 2015 and will contain a real-time update of the algorithm.
It was June this year when Illyes confirmed that Google was working on an update for Penguin which will include real-time updates. However, the webmaster trend analyst did not give a specific date for the rollout at the time, reasoning that algorithms require extensive reworking.
In July, Illyes echoed his previous statements, saying that an update for Penguin is months away.
Although Illyes’ most recent pronouncements this October are still rather vague, the idea of a Penguin update rolling out before 2015 closes is not far-fetched. Furthermore, all the signs point to the fact that Google is actually working toward making real-time change possible with the latest update for Penguin.
A brief history of Google’s Penguin algorithm
The Penguin algorithm was released in April 2012 along with five more subsequent updates, the last of which was rolled out on October 2014.
According to Google, the primary aim of Penguin and its updates is to curb the practice of using unnatural backlinks in order to improve search engine results page rankings as well as other black hat SEO tactics, including link buying, comment spam links and trading of links.
With this algorithm, Google puts the responsibility of looking at the different aspects of a link, including volume, source quality and content, squarely on the shoulders of a website owner. Should the search engine find out that a website has resorted to unfair practices, the website owner needs to make an audit of his site’s entire link profile and remove poor quality links.
An algorithm, not a penalty
Google has also been consistent in saying that Penguin (and even Panda) is an algorithm and not a penalty. What’s the difference between a penalty and an algorithm?
Google penalizes a website if it contains unnatural links, thin content, spam and other unfair practices that give the website an advantage. Often, a website is penalized after it has been reported to Google.
An algorithm evaluates websites and modifies their ranks depending on numerous factors. Some parts of algorithms are known as filters, under which Penguin and Panda are classified. Penguin can lower your website’s rank if it finds a host of issues with your website.
How the Penguin filter works
When the Penguin was initially rolled out, its primary purpose was to weed out Web spam, including unnatural links. According to many SEO experts, the filter runs on a periodic basis. The updates that have been rolled out have been designed to tweak the filter and improve its rate of catching Web spam.
One of the most common feedbacks about this filter is that if you wish to improve your website, it is better to make these changes after the release of the latest update. Should you wish to proceed with these changes with your website, such improvements won’t positively affect your website until a new update has been rolled out.
Also, publishers are not notified if their website has been hit with Penguin. Often, the only way to know if your website has been hit by the filter is if you see a marked decline in the amount of traffic your website is getting after Google announces an algorithm update.
Why the real-time updates matter
A lot of website owners and SEO experts are eagerly awaiting the latest update of the Penguin filter. The chief reason behind this is the real-time update.
As mentioned earlier, when previous updates were rolled out and your website has been hit, you had to wait for another update to see if the improvements on your website actually worked.
Updating in real time is seen to overcome this major hassle. This means that if you have already removed or disavowed low quality links pointing to your website, Penguin will immediately know that you have addressed these issues and made the necessary adjustments. This means that your website can quickly recover after being hit. Of course, this may also mean that you can end up getting penalized quickly as well.
Getting hit with the new real time update
Although it is pretty unclear how Penguin’s new update will actually work and impact websites, there are plenty of speculations that are swirling around.
One of the most common scenarios that industry experts are predicting is that the filter will work essentially the same way, with the exception of the real-time update.
In this scenario, if you have been hit with the latest algorithm update, you can either check your Google Webmaster for a report or take note of the amount of traffic your website has received after the release of the latest update. If you see a marked decline in traffic, it is highly likely that your website has been hit. On the other hand, a spike in traffic means that you have benefited from the latest update rollout.
But what about recovery from this latest update?
If you think you have been hit with the latest update, the first place you have to check is the Google Webmaster Central to confirm your suspicion. If Google notifies you about some of the links you have, you need to manually remove these. Unsure whether a link is spammy? Try using the MOZ spam factor. If a link gets a spam score of six and above, use your disavow tool. On the other hand, if you feel that you have been mistakenly penalized, you can submit a feedback to the Google Webmaster Forum and show them proof of why you believe that you should not have been penalized.
Where does the real-time update come into play?
If the update works according to the forecast made by experts, you will immediately see the results of the changes you have made with your website. That, in essence, is the beauty of the real-time update.
Unsure of what other changes you need to make?
Have a SuperFastBusiness SEO Website Check done and our SEO service team will advise what necessary tweaks you can do to make your website more competitive.