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Google Penguin 4.0 – Real Time Penguin Update has started


Google Core Update, not Penguin 4.0 was bigger than Penguin 3.0

After waiting for almost a year, Google has confirmed that they’re working on a real-time Google Penguin update.

Awaiting the major Penguin update in January as announced by Google after shifting it for many months,
I called Google Penguin 4.0 to start already.


What looked like Google Penguin 4.0 was a core algo update that was bigger than Penguin 3.0 last year and almost feelt like the massive Penguin 2.1 in 2013.

The “real-time feature” implies that effects of the Penguin algorithmic filter, i.e. demotions and promotions of organic rankings for a website due to link spam (unnatural links) happen faster than in the past. In the past, every Google Penguin update brought drastic changes.


While Google has still to confirm this new major Penguin Update, I am confident,
that “this is it.”

Google Penguin 4.0 is rolling out.

Gary Illyes mentioned that the Google engineers are “still testing”, but for me this looked like the “final release candidate.”

Gary and Zineb Ait (in French) today confirmed - after almost 48 hours of waiting for a useful statement that this major shake up
is indeed a core algo update and not (yet) a Penguin update.

This means, that it was technically a Panda update, but Panda was integrated into the core algorithm, so is therefore no more a separate update they need to confirm.

Hey wait, but if Penguin goes real-time, that would mean it also needs to be integrated into the core algorithm... hmnn food for thought, if it's not Penguin (the thing attached on top of the core, but the same link spam analyis component integrated into the core, would it be ok to say it's "not Penguin"?

Last night I then wondered if Google's John Müller and Gary actually continued the practice of confirming Google Penguin Updates, and remembered, that from End of October til December (!) in 2014 we were wondering if and how the Google Penguin 3.0 rolled out. I even found that post where Google's John Müller confirmed in December 2014 that Penguin would be an "Everpenguin" already the  "Real-Time Version" of Google Penguin that was confirmed yet a year later.

I already heard some people expect Google Penguin 4.0 in March 2016 - no idea where that date comes from, but apparently Google themselves are unsure on what RankBrain, the Google Core algo and all those attachments to it - be it the past Panda or the (maybe still external filter) Penguin algorithm be if confirmation takes a day or two from official spokesmen.

I am still expecting the Google Penguin Update sooner than March 2016.

Anyways, read on to see my perspectives from January 10 and what led me to call Penguin 4.0 rolling out.
It was a lot of work and I guess some people still haven't read it.

Oh and Don't forget to signup to my waiting list to notify you as soon as a the next Google Update has rolled out.

Table of contents


Google Penguin 4.0 is rolling out.

Gary Illyes mentioned that the Google engineers are “still testing”, but for me this looks like the “final release candidate.”


Today January 10 marks a “level of activity is like nothing we’ve seen in 2015. It’s bigger than Penguin 3”.
The only update with the greater impact on search results was PayDay Loan update back in May 2014.

Source: Dejan


I firmly believe, based on my experience, the history of Google Penguin and what I’ve seen the last days,
this is the Google Penguin 4.0 rollout, the real time update.

It might be not finished yet, maybe just a pre-test or the beginning of how “Real Time Penguin” will continue to look like.
I’ll update the post as Google confirms a full rollout of course.
But looking at what we see, they are shaking it up across the globe already with Penguin 4.0.


Because of the real-time aspect, Google can shuffle different markets and verticals
independently, and that’s exactly what we have seen since the New Year’s Eve.
Read more below about ongoing discussions in our LRT Associate forum.

The SERP fluctuations on serp.watch also looks crazy.

Source: serp.watch


At the same time, Mozcast seems to miss the party over the weekend and stops Jan 8


Source: Mozcast


What we know about Google Penguin 4.0

Google’s has confirmed it will be the “real-time” Penguin Update.

Google’s has confirmed it will not be a “Slow Rollout Google Update” as with recent Panda.

Both confirmations came about Google Penguin 4.0 came from Gary Illyes (who took over the spokesman role from Matt Cutts in case you missed that).


We can, therefore, can expect a lot more shakeups with the fast updates.

The SERPS have been shaken up massively since the beginning of January, and many tools and experts reported shake-ups bigger than other Google updates.


Impact of the Google Penguin 4.0 Update

We already know that this Google update affects many different countries like Germany, UK, and the US.

What is fascinating at Mozcast tough is that since New Year’s Eve the influence of the “Big 10” domains seems to fade dramatically.

Those “Big 10” are BIG:

  1. en.wikipedia.org
  2. www.amazon.com
  3. www.facebook.com
  4. www.youtube.com
  5. www.yelp.com
  6. www.webmd.com
  7. www.walmart.com
  8. www.tripadvisor.com
  9. www.foodnetwork.com
  10. allrecipes.com

Source: Mozcast


How the Google Penguin 4.0 roll-out happened (Timeline constantly updated)


January 10, 2016: Barry Schwartz of SEroundtable posts on Sunday and quotes a lot of interesting opinions on these massive fluctuations


Seeing significant positive changes here on the east coast for long time penguin hit sites.

this is not (only) Penguin, but imho a refresh or update of the core algo.

I am guessing this is a test run of the real-time Penguin that's supposed to be released this month.

Biggest update in years...


January 10, 2016: Dawn Anderson shows the major shakeup in perspective – Huge spike, isn’t it?



Source: Algoroo by Dejan Petrovic

January 9, 2016: Certified LRT Xpert Bartosz Góralewicz reports substantial fluctuations on serp.watch

January 9, 2016: Dejan reports Biggest Google Update since June 2015 and even Snippet changes and re-confirms a major Google Update on January 10

January 9, 2016: Martin Mißfeldt reports major changes around also in Germany but is still unsure

January 9, 2016: Glenn Gabe reports a major drop in rankings on one site he monitored – around Jan 5


January 8, 2016: Dawn Anderson reports multiple interesting observations in our private LRT Associate forum already

Source: Dawn Anderson in LRT Associate forum


Source: Dawn Anderson in LRT Associate forum


January 6 2016: AccuRanker was the first SERP monitor to report major changes. Interesting enough it seems to look slower on January 10 now, or wasn’t updated yet.

Source: AccuRanker


January 1 2016: Multiple SEOs in Germany reported drops in different verticals – be it prescription glasses 12/31 or finance high peak on 12/29,  Health 12/29+30 and now 6+7 Jan.


In general, Google seems to update and shake different countries at the same time. This is something very much expected to continue to happen once the Penguin 4.0 is fully rolled out.

Source: Dawn Anderson in LRT Associate forum

What we can expect from Google Penguin 4.0

Following Google Penguin since its first launch in April 2012 we’ve analyzed and recovered hundreds and thousands of website
and put together a lot of material, experience, and historical data that trains our Link Detox Genesis algorithms.



You can join a webinar with me where I explain to you

  • What the “real-time” aspect of Google Penguin 4.0 means for you and your business
  • How link penalties will work in the future
  • A look back in history of Google Penguin Updates – we’ve followed every detail since April 2012
  • What new risks and threats to your business the Google Penguin 4.0 update brings
  • What new opportunities the Google Penguin 4.0 update brings
  • How you can best handle the new “fast” Google Penguin update
  • How great content marketing can help you in the Penguin 4.0 era
  • How the “Big Plan of Google” finally comes together in 2016 with Penguin 4.0

Just click here to sign up and watch the webinar.

What I recommend moving forward with Google Penguin 4.0

It’s still early in this update.

However some principles remain and one new aspect is the game changer – “Real Time”.

How much real-time that “Real Time Penguin” might be, it’s going to be a lot more frequent.

But there’s still network and processing power needed for all those massive crawls and calculations,
so I wouldn’t be surprised if “real-time” really translates into weekly or daily.

Link Risk Management, the practice of proactive link audits and disavows gets, even more, important
for your business – and we always recommended to do it on a weekly basis. Maybe faster in the future.

The post-penguin basic principles for link building and SEO remain

  • A link can help or hurt - positive to negative effect, vs. positive or nothing pre-Penguin
  • You need to analyze your FULL backlink profile – it’s about ratios. It’s wrong to think that the few percent
    that Google Search Console gives you in links would be enough to audit. And don’t show any penalized sites,
    so you’re definitely missing out if you’re not aggregating all sources you can. LRT was made for that.
  • Use a machete, not a scalpel for bad links – I know that it’s tough to let a so-so link go, but remember it’s about ratios
  • Disavow shady scraper links – Google has better things to do than detect all sorts of scraper spam, so they put it on us
  • Be careful with redirects – as I found out in Penguin 2.0 update Google passes penalties on with redirects for a while now
  • Be careful with redirects 2.0 – temporary redirects are handled differently than just a few years ago and can convert into permanent redirects. Did you know?
  • Content relevance and the “AI” part – “Rankbrain” is here – Google rolled out their new machine-learning in October 2015 that can and will impact search results.
    this will make results, even more, unpredictable for Google themselves as well. Let’s see how this works out.
If you sign up and watch my webinar, I will also send you some more tutorials and eBooks we created on Google Penguin, Risky Links and Disavows and much more. 


What did I miss? What did you spot already?


Do you also believe this the Penguin 4.0 rollout?


Please let me know in the comments or
via our contact form and I’d be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.

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Have a great day!

Christoph C Cemper
Founder of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox

Christoph C. Cemper

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Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph C. Cemper is the CEO and Founder of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox. A well-known and distinguished expert in SEO who started link building for clients in 2003, building the Link Research Tools since 2006 and marketing it as SaaS product since 2009. When the famous Google Penguin update changed the rules of SEO in 2012, Christoph started Link Detox, software for finding links that pose a risk in a website’s backlink profile. He introduced ongoing link audits and risk management to the market in early 2011. In 2015, Christoph introduced Impactana, a new technology platform and SaaS product to measure the success of content beyond "social buzz", to find content, videos and people that make an impact.
Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph C. Cemper


  1. umut on February 3, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Merhaba. Ücretli backlink alımı ne derece yararlı. Yeni bir site için?

  2. Nikolay Stoyanov on February 29, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Nice post Christoph. I like the machete reference. No wonder webmasters are panicking so much as of late, asking for additional assistance. Update season is coming!

  3. […] the updates for Google Penguin 4.0 is going to roll out on a continual basis, the ones who have been penalized by the current algorithm changes are going to have the […]

  4. […] bated breath, the industry is going ga-ga over some effects in the rankings that seem to be the effect of the Penguin real-time update. However, some say that it is just a core update and not the actual Penguin […]

  5. […] The SEO community has been waiting with bated breath on the announcement of Google’s dreaded Penguin 4.0 Algorithm update. Last reports from Google’s Gary Illyes was that their engineers were still testing, but it’s believed that its implementation is imminent. Google’s Penguin Algorithm targets links that come from poor-quality sites, have little to no relevancy to the backlinked site, have overly optimized anchor text, are paid for, and/or are keyword rich. Read more: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/02/29/the-penguin-in-the-room-what-to-do-until-google-rolls-out-its-latest-update/ http://www.linkresearchtools.com/news/google-penguin-4-0/ […]

  6. […] embargo, en Link Research Tools están casi seguros de que la actualización de Penguin ha comenzado, al menos, es lo que concluye […]

  7. Reene Smith on April 4, 2016 at 5:47 am


    Well, I have been trying out to understand Google Panda and Penguin, by reading more and more and this is helping me a lot. I know Google Panda is all about Quality Content.

    Although, It would take some time for me to understand, How to avoid any penalty from Google Penguin. It is bit complicated for me, they say, Only natural links are safe, but After reading articles, including this one, i get bit confused.

    Anyways, Will try experimenting a bit.

  8. Donatas on April 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Very interesting article, thank you Christoph!

  9. Blogprime on June 12, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Well, that’s pretty in-depth article. But I rarely cared about these pandas and penguins; all because I never – ever hired $5 SEO experts from renowned SEO marketplaces ( you now which one ).

    All you need to do is to follow the Google webmasters guidelines, help your visitors and create beautiful and informative infographics and sometimes contribute to professional and authority sites in your niche.

    Thanks for this awesome post.

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