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Zero Days Without Accident: Google Announces Penguin 4.0

By Jeff Russell
Penguin is now a part of Google’s core algorithm.

Google announced an algorithm update on Friday, Sept. 23, confirming what many SEO experts had already surmised: the latest iteration of the Google’s “Penguin” was updated. Google did turn some heads with the note that Penguin will now be part of the ongoing core algorithm.

Let’s sort all of this out. Here’s what you need to know about Penguin, Google’s ranking algorithm, and what we are doing about it.

What is Google Penguin?

Penguin is a core algorithm ranking signal that penalized sites for unnatural links (spam) that attempt to rank higher in search results. First launched in April 2012, Penguin was a manual update in which sites that had the penalty needed to wait until the next release to fix it. Now Penguin is part of Google’s core ranking signals, which is constantly being updated and refreshed. There were six Penguin updates before it moved to the automatic updates.

What is Google’s core ranking algorithm?

Google’s core ranking algorithm is their main organic ranking system to determine how sites are ranked in search engine results pages. There are more than 200 ranking signals that make up this algorithm. It is constantly being run and updated. While it is unknown what all goes into these ranking signals, the main factors include keywords on a page, quality content, inbound links, domain authority (PageRank) and location.

You’ve seen a decline in traffic. Was it caused by Penguin?

Maybe. Google will sometimes notify webmasters if they have been penalized through Google Search Console notifications; however, this is not likely to happen now with Penguin moving to the core algorithm. If you have noticed a sharp decline in specific keyword rankings or pages being de-indexed, this could also be a signal that your site has been targeted.

Chances are that you have nothing to worry about if you have not been involved in link-spamming tactics such as buying links, link partnering, guest blogging syndication or automated link generation. It’s important to note that every site sees declines in traffic from time to time. Most education websites have similar seasonal trends, and we expect to see declines in September as part of those trends. Coupled with the Labor Day weekend, we could see organic traffic decreases from 7-18 percent this month. But each site is different. Cross-check your historical data to compare how your site typically performs.

Are we doing anything about the Penguin update?

Since we don’t participate in black hat SEO, and neither should our clients, there isn’t a real worry about a Penguin penalty. As part of our ongoing dedication to providing high-quality foundational SEO and inbound marketing tactics, we frequently check site traffic, keyword rankings and site health.

If you have a question about Penguin or any other animal (Panda? Hummingbird?), give us a shout. We’re happy to assist.

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