In early October, webmaster analyst Gary Illyes revealed via Twitter that we could anticipate a Penguin roll-out in 2015. There hasn’t been an official update since October 2014, and despite claims, it looks like the next confirmed update will take place in March 2016.
Google told Search Engine Journal in December: “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.” This statement has led SEO experts to speculate that “march” was not a meaningless choice of word, but a strategic placement of clue. On the other hand, some were hoping it’ll roll out as soon as January.
Regardless of the date, the Google Penguin Update will make thousands of businesses around the world wary about their efforts to scale the SERPs. The update may provide more potential for SEOs and digital marketers playing by the rules, but for black-hat folks, the news may not be as well-received.
Back to the Basics: What Is The Google Penguin Update?
Fundamentally, the Penguin Update was intended to combat spam link tactics and monitor the quality of links to a website.
First implemented in April 2012, the update unleashed a major ripple in the digital marketing community, causing questionable websites to plummet in rankings.
After Penguin, sites required a link audit and disavow or removal of spammy links, as opposed to the old days when bad links were simply devalued and needed to be replaced to recover rankings. Even after Penguin, a refresh needed to happen first before you could see any signs of recovery, and the long waiting time made the idea of real-time updatevery appealing.
The Penguin 4.0 is expected to be the real-time update we’ve been waiting for. As soon as Google discovers the links to your site, good or bad, the algorithm will analyze them in real time, meaning changes in ranking would also happen in almost real time.
Penguin 4.0 may be also be the next step in the evolution of link value, placing a premium on semantically related links and more importance on relevant editorial links.
The Idea behind Semantic Search
Semantic search is expected to revolutionize the way Google provides search results. As opposed to blindly relying on data, such as meta tags and link anchor text, the objective is to understand the relationship between things – that is, at a semantic level.
The integration of semantics is recently championed by an artificial intelligence system developed by Google, named RankBrain. It helps process its search results using machine learning, a form of AI where computer programs are able to teach themselves how to develop and adapt when introduced to various types of data, in this case, search queries.
It works by embedding vast amounts of written language into mathematic entities into a format that a computer can understand. If it encounters a term or phrase it hasn’t encountered before, it uses stored information to deduce what terms or phrases may have similar meaning and filter the results accordingly.
What to Do for Now?
Before Google implemented the first Penguin update, there was an upsurge of manual penalties given for spammy, unnatural links, mostly due to the manipulative use of EMAT. Later, the Penguin algorithm penalized websites for committing the same thing, leading many to suspect that Google conduct algorithm tests related to handing out penalties before the major rollout.
In December 2015, SEOs have observed a spike in manual penalties, mostly to websites using their own Private Blog Networks (PBNs) to boost rankings. Experts speculate this could be a test before the official roll-out, and could make PBNs a thing of the past.
As a precaution for now, avoid engaging in PBNs and getting involved in shady, cheap SEO services.
There have been a number of announced and unannounced Penguin algorithm changes over the past few years, each one causing significant changes to the way search results appear and behave. For the most part, Penguin 4.0 is going to be a major detractor for black hat SEOs and a positive update for marketers doing it the proper way.
As a trusted SEO service provider in Denver, we are always on top of the news and carry out SEO strategies the way they should be done. Talk with our experts today to find out more.