Google’s Penguin 4.0 update is planned to take effect before the end of 2015. This gives SEOs and webmasters just two months to get their houses in order, so they don’t suffer the ill-consequences of the update.
The news was confirmed by Google webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes, on Twitter when he responded to an enquiry from an excitable SEO. Although Illyes didn’t give an exact date for the roll-out of the update, it has prompted SEOs all around the world to get moving with clean up tasks.
What is Penguin?
Following Google’s habit of naming their algorithms after daft animals, Penguin was first announced in 2012, with the intention of kicking unethical (in terms of search optimisation) websites to the curb. This was followed by the 2.0 update the following year and 3.0 in October 2014.
Different to the Google Panda algorithms, Penguin targets websites which have been over-optimised with dodgy backlinks and all manner of black hat SEO techniques. The annual updates have been successful in ensuring site managers develop websites which are more targeted to user experience, rather than attempting to exploit Google’s sophisticated search algorithms – completely changing SEO in the process.
What Will Happen?
It has been over a year since the last Penguin update from Google, and rumours are rife that this will be the final version. SEOs have been waiting patiently for the update to occur so all their good work over the past 12 months can take effect. The update could see websites make huge jumps in rankings, or massive plummets, depending on the quality of the work carried out since the last update.
Many SEOs believe this will be the last major Penguin update from Google, with the search engine choosing to implement more continuous, rolling updates in the future. However, Penguin 4.0 looks set to be a bit of a biggie, so it’s important all the black hats techniques and dodgy links are well and truly destroyed.
What Should SEOs Do?
At Banc Media, our SEO guys have used this as a chance to check if they need to do any extra disavow updates – so old links don’t haunt their clients when the update takes effect. Creating a disavow file with all the regrettable backlinks (little guide from Google, here) can help cleanse your website of previous discrepancies, so it’ll be judged on its current qualities when Penguin 4.0 lands.
All disavow processes are complimentary, so they won’t override previous disavow files. This means you simply have to consider backlinks which have previously not been added to disavow files.
For websites with minimal backlink history, this could be a relatively short and pain-free task – but if you’ve been backlinking since the Penguin was just a chick, it could be a longwinded and difficult process. Unfortunately, burying your head in the sand and hoping Google’s Eye of Sauron passes you by unscathed is a risky tactic. Keeping dodgy backlinks propping up your website could lead to a significant drop when you get caught red handed.
If the prospect of cleaning up your website seems daunting, confusing or time-consuming; the SEO chaps at Banc Media may be able to lend their technically-minded janitorial skills to the task. For more information about how we can help protect your website from any ill-effects of Penguin updates and carefully steer traffic to your website, give us a ring on 0345 459 0558.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Antartica Bound.