Google Penguin 4.0

Penguin 4.0, the latest SEO update from Google, rolled out around the first week of September and we are now seeing some tasty results. We now know what’s been effected and what’s not, but before I jump in and offer my opinion on Penguin 4.0 let’s recap with the basics as to what Penguin actually is…. Well what we believe and know it to be anyway!

What is Google Penguin anyway?

In simple terms penguin was an update run by Google waaaaaay back in 2012 aimed at reducing the number of spammy backlinks which people were using to try and improve their search engine rankings.

Penguin was reported to of affected around 1% of websites when it was first rolled out.

Users with spammy links to their websites were required to “Disavow” links to their website, this means using Google Webmasters to tell Google that “these links might point to us, we’re innocent, they’re clearly spam, please set them aside!”

Penguin was previously run at intervals during big updates, Penguin 4.0 is now live time!

Penguin also previously penalised your whole website, it now appears to only (and fairly!) penalise individual pages.

Penguin 4.0

Pre-penguin a lot of seo “experts” were creating link farms, comment spam and other types of nasty SEO stuff that Penguin clamped down on.

With Penguin 4.0 all of these links now have to be disavowed, a manual link analysis is required by using Google Webmasters.

If you have been hit with a Penguin penalty, then you will need to do some damage limitation and build you reputation back up.

This can be done through the use of PR and getting your unique articles published online at places like Forbes, Huffington Post etc.

Please do take the time to review your existing links and disavow the bad ones!

A benefit of this is Googles use of AI, for example well known spam farms will not have such a negative effect any more if there are lots of people disavowing them.

When groups of people constantly disavow links through webmasters, then Google AI reacts to this and also, we think, helps block it across the system so others, who may be unaware, aren’t affected.

Penguin 4.0 is in LIVE TIME! This makes it far quicker to recover from a Penguin penalty.


In summary and of course my humble opinion included:

The Penguin algorithm, started April 2012, was designed to “catch” link building designed to push sites up in the google organic results.

Version 1 was mainly looking at anchor text, for example, if a site had, say, 20% of its links having the same anchor text, real humans would never do this so penguin knew artificial SEO played a hand and handed out some pretty nasty penalties, and once hit, even if you were able to fix the issues, you would not be forgiven/recover until the next penguin update.

Versions 2 and 3 were all about adding extra layers of link checking.

Version 1,2 and 3 were run as a one off algorithm across the core algorithm.

Version 4 is now “inside” the main algorithm, so it’s always running so you can get hit with penalties a lot faster, and recover a lot faster too.

Version 4 also seems to have calmed down a lot on over use of SEO keywords in anchors, however some seos’ (myself included) think this is a trap and in the future they’ll go back to v 1 to 3

2020 Update

SEO continues to evolve and not just be about backlinks anymore, although backlinks are a huge part of SEO, now user experience and the design of your website plays a huge part.

2020 has seem come core Google algorithm changes in January and May already with many more expected across the year.

More than ever, it is important that you keep on top of Google updates and always adhere to best practices.

Create hero pieces of content such as our digital marketing in a recession guide which naturally attract backlinks and rank well in Google.

Sure, pieces of content like this take time to create, but in the long run their benefits far outweigh the time and cost taken to create them.