It’s been more than a year since Google’s last Penguin update, and it appears the next one is due to roll out within weeks. On January 19, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, posted on Twitter that the company is aiming to get it done by end of first quarter at the latest.
While Illyes couldn’t give a precise timeframe, the information provides eager SEOs and webmasters with a good estimate. After all, this is the closest we’ve gotten to a confirmation regarding the official rollout date.
Was the “March” Prediction Right?
Penguin 4.0 has stirred several predictions and expectations regarding release date over the last year. In July 2015, Illyes said the next Penguin update was still “months away”. September came and specialists were expecting the update to roll out before the end of 2015. In October, they were still waiting.
A month later, Google confirmed the update will bring out a “huge” change, and then came December, when the company announced, “With the holiday upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.” As discussed in our past article, the choice of verb gave some experts a hint that it was going to roll out in March, while others believed it would come out in January.
Enter the New Year. In January, a new Google update was rolled out and some webmasters and SEO spcialists thought the update to be Penguin. But Google was quick to confirm that any major ranking changes were because of the core algorithm update, and not Penguin.
We’re halfway through February, and with Illyes’, albeit uncertain, statement on Twitter, it may be safe to go with the prediction that Penguin 4.0 is marching in this March. Maybe.
What Can We Expect from Penguin 4.0?
It’s no secret that Google is constantly making changes, from experiments to samples, to larger-scale updates. They may launch some algorithms once and never make an update again. They may make tweaks within some algorithms daily, weekly, or monthly. Penguin has had the same fate.
Penguin 2.0 was rolled out in May 2013 and Penguin 2.1 just a few months later in October 2013. Penguin 3.0 followed a year later, in October 2014, which was technically a refresh that affected less than 1% of US English search queries.
Unlike an update, a refresh adds new signals to the algorithm. It serves to demote sites that have newly discovered signals that were absent at the time of the previous update. It also assists sites that have corrected their spam issues and adhered to Google’s terms and conditions since the launch of the last update.
This has raised some interest of whether Penguin 4.0 will be an update or refresh. If Google makes a tweak to one line of a code, is that an update? Or does it take 50, maybe 500 lines of code? When is it enough of a tweak to call it an update?
Nevertheless, the consensus is that Penguin 4.0 could be the real-time update many have waited for. The moment Google discovers the links to a site, the algorithm will analyze them in real time, making ranking changes happen in almost real time. As discussed in our previous blog post, Penguin 4.0 may also place premium value on semantically related links and on relevant editorial links.
These are just projections. Given the sparse details, it’s hard to say what Google will have in store for us. We think we’ll have to wait for the official roll-out before getting answers to our questions.
Stay on top of your SEO campaign by tuning in with us. As one of Denver’s trusted SEO companies, we drive SEO results through a combination of industry experience, expertise and knowledge of the latest marketing trends. For information and assistance with Internet marketing in Denver and other parts of the state, stay connected with C1-partners.