Google has officially confirmed on the Google webmaster blog that they've began rolling out the Penguin 4.0 real time algorithm. It has been just under two years since we had a confirmed Penguin update, which we named Penguin 3.0 in October 2014 and this will be the last time Google confirms a Penguin update again. We saw signals yesterday that Google began testing Penguin 4.0, Google wouldn't confirm if those signals were related to this Penguin 4.0 launch announcement this morning but nevertheless, we are live now with Penguin 4.0.
No Future Penguin Confirmations
Google said because this is a real-time algorithm "we're not going to comment on future refreshes." By real time, Google means that as soon as Google recrawls and reindexes your pages, those signals will be immediately used in the new Penguin algorithm.
Penguin 4.0 Is Real Time & More Granular
Google again said this is now rolling out, so you may not yet see the full impact until it fully rolls out. I don't expect the roll out to take long. Google wrote:
- 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 recrawl and reindex 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.
The real-time part we understand, it means when Google indexes the page, it will immediately recalculate the signals around Penguin.
Penguin being more "granular" is a bit confusing. I suspect it means that now Penguin can impact sites on a page-by-page basis, as opposed to how it worked in the past where it impacted the whole site. So really spammy pages or spammy sections of your site can solely be impacted by Penguin now, as opposed to your whole web site. That is my guess, I am trying to get clarification on this.
Google Penguin Timeline:
- Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012
- Penguin 1.1 on May 22, 2012
- Penguin 1.5 on October 5, 2012
- Penguin 2.0 on May 23, 2013
- Penguin 2.1 on October 4, 2013
- Penguin 3.0 on October 18, 2014
- Penguin 4.0 on September 23, 2016
Was My Site Impacted By Google Penguin 4.0
If your site was hit by Penguin 3.0 and you don't see a recovery, even a small one by now, then that probably means you are still impacted. I'd give this a couple weeks to fully roll out and check your analytics to see if you have a nice recovery. Again, I still think specific sections and pages will be impacted and it will make it harder to know if you are impacted by this update or not.
The nice thing, you can use the disavow file on links you think are hurting you and you should know pretty quickly (I suspect days) if that helped as opposed to waiting two years for Google to refresh the algorithm. At the same time, you can be hit by Penguin much faster now.
Some of you already saw this yesterday - so congrats!
Forum discussion at Google+.