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Home » Google » Google Update: Penguin 4.0 – the “Real Time” Link Algorithm

Google Update: Penguin 4.0 – the “Real Time” Link Algorithm

Hey wait, but if Penguin goes real-time, that would mean it also needs to be integrated into the core algorithm… hmmm food for thought, if it’s not Penguin (the thing attached on top of the core, but the same link spam analysis component integrated into the core, would it be ok to say it’s “not Penguin”?

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Google Penguin 4.0 – Real Time Penguin UpdateThe Real Time Google Penguin Algorithm is LIVE

Google Penguin 4.0 is officially part of  Google's Core Algorithm, according to an official statement given by Google on September 23, 2016.

"Penguin is now real-time. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. (…)  With this change, Penguin's data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we're not going to comment on future refreshes."

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.

Penguin 4.0 is the last Penguin update in history. There will be no other update.


Here's your guide to the Real-Time Google Penguin

understanding the real time penguin ebook

Download this 75-pages eBook and learn:

  • how SEO strategies changed with the Real-Time Google Penguin;
  • what is link risk management and why you need to do it on a regular basis;
  • why you need to clean your backlink profile and how;
  • how the Real-Time Google Penguin works;
  • why you should not wait for Google to re-crawl your links;
  • what the granularity of the Real-Time Penguin means;
  • how do you diagnose websites that have partial Penguin penalties;
  • how to find and build great links that will help boost your rankings;
  • and so much more...

Important points about the Real Time Penguin

  1. The Google Penguin positive or negative signal is now recalculated on crawl. Link Detox Boost is therefore the perfect tool also to "test & try" links effects and not only make the disavow work.
  2. Google Penguin now not only affects the whole site (or not). It has its impact on all levels like domain, folders, pages and probably also keywords and keyword groups. So anything that goes into the organic rankings will now be affected by the Penguin algorithm on a fine level.
  3. Because of 2. it will be harder to diagnose "small Penguin penalties" in many cases.
  4. Since Google Penguin will be more granular, it can mean that an aggressively SEOed part of a website trips the Penguin filter, while other parts are ranking fine. This will makes doing a competitive research using Competitive Link Detox (CDTOX) for every main topic a site covers more important to understand different risk level standards.
  5. Because of 4 the "Subfolder Analysis" Feature of Link Detox (launched 2014) will become one of the most popular features to diagnose and fix Penguin bases ranking issues (in conjunction with Link Detox Boost).
  6. The "Filter Slice Feature" that Link Detox and LRT have for years will be very helpful to analyze the risk per groups of keywords, groups of source domains, countries, types of links and many more.

You can read our latest Q&A about the Granular Real Time Google Penguin here.

The internet started going crazy about the Real Time Google Penguin

SEOROUNDTABLE announced the Google Penguin roll out right after Google announced it

The Real Time Penguin will not act at Page-Level, it's simply more granular...

Some remember the nightmare of the Google Penguin 2012 launch...

People are following the Real Time Penguin update all around the world

What we 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. 

SEOs have been waiting for the Real Time Google Penguin for months now

We got a false Real Time Penguin alarm in January

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

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

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.



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You can fix or avoid a Google Penalty! Learn more about how you can Recover and Protect with LRT.




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 LinkResearchTools 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 and disavowing toxic links. 

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