Well folks, the time has finally come! Google has officially confirmed on their Google Webmaster Blog that they have now began rolling out the live real-time version of Penguin. It has almost been 2 years since Google has confirmed their last Penguin 3 update, which happened on October 17th, 2014. According to Dr. Pete Myers it has been “707 days” since the last Google Penguin Update. This last update was believed to impact around 1% of search queries.

As of yesterday there were many signals and tools pointing to the fact that Google had indeed began testing the update. Many SEO companies in the community were reporting keyword ranking fluctuations up and down. Although it has been mentioned that the update is now live, I do not believe that it has fully “rolled out”. In my experience with previous updates, it usually takes a couple of weeks for them to roll out the update fully.

Here is a screenshot of the MozCast over the last 6 days. As you can see, it’s been hot all week.

MozCast- Penguin 4

“The web has significantly changed over the years, but as we said in our original post, webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites. It’s also important to remember that updates like Penguin are just one of more than 200 signals we use to determine rank.” – Google

What is The Real-Time Google Penguin Algorithm?

Back in September/October at SMX East, Google’s very own Gary Illyes mentioned that, “Google will begin running Penguin as a real-time version of the algorithm”. What does that actually mean? According to Gary, it means that as soon as Google has discovered a link has been removed or potentially disavowed from the site, the algorithm will process this in real time fashion and your site should potentially recover from the penalty.

Google has also mentioned in their update that they will no longer confirm any Penguin Updates from here on out. Now Google Penguin 4.0 Updatethat Penguin is running full time, there is technically no need to confirm things moving forward.

Key Changes to Penguin 4.0

  • Penguin is now real-time.Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast. But others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we re-crawl and re-index a page. It also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.
  • Penguin is now more granular.Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.

Google Penguin Timeline

Here is a quick rundown of the previous Google Penguin updates dating back to Google’s first release in 2012.

  • Penguin 1 – April 24th, 2012 (Affected around 3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 – May 25, 2012 (Impacted less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 – October 5, 2012 (Impacted around 0.3%)
  • Penguin 2.0 – May 22, 2013 (Impacted 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 – October 4, 2013 (Impacted around 1% of Queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 – October 17, 2014 (1st Penguin Update in Over A Year)

So What Should You Do?

Remain calm! Keep doing your SEO as you should be. This update really affects those participating in “black-hat” SEO, just as prior Penguin updates have. However, “black-hat” practices are now going to be consistently penalized, and those who carefully and scrupulously build their links will reap the rewards. As we continue to gather more information we will keep this blog posted updated on Penguin 4 announcements, statistics and more.