How is Google’s Penguin 4.0 impacting businesses in your industry?

Two weeks or so ago, (September 23rd, 2016), Google launched their highly talked about ‘real-time’ Penguin 4.0 update –

– and in the lead up there was a lot of buzz around the impending doom that the roll-out could potentially bring in terms of rankings fluctuations. In fact, there’s still a lot of energy in the hundred or so forums I’ve trawled through where the gossip is raging without anyone having any clear voice on the update’s direct impact.
From what I’ve personally seen, unlike its predecessors, the Penguin update didn’t really take flight when it comes to the drastic predictions which preceded it.

The long and short of it ..

Before we go any further though, what exactly did the Penguin update mean and what is this ‘real-time’ algorithm all about?

Here’s the long and short of it;

“Your site will be penalized in near real-time (if you get unnatural links) as well as recover from a penalty incredibly quickly (if you disavow or remove the bad links).” – Cognitive SEO

Being the data junkies we are, we wanted to see how the update has impacted some of the businesses we work with. So we’ve measured the update’s influence across over 30 different websites and more than 6,000 keywords. From that we then dissected and analyzed the data based on three key categories: industry, brand strength (arbitrary metric) and website authority.

So what you’re seeing below in the ‘Movement’ columns are how much websites, within the corresponding group, have either increased or decreased in rankings (on average) since the Penguin 4.0 update.

By Industry

Average Movement Across All Sites

By Business Size

Average Movement Across All Sites

By Website Authority

Average Movement Across All Sites


The overarching message that we see from looking at all of this information is that the Penguin 4.0 update has had no consistent impact on our clients’ websites. But the questions I don’t have definitive answers to are:

  • Has the algorithm not been fully deployed in Australia? Maybe!
  • Is it too early to make an ultimate judgement call? Probably!

In saying that, for our clients there is definitely more of positive than negative slant. At these levels I’m just not confident in relating them back to Penguin 4.0.

If there’s one piece of concrete insight you should understand about the update, it’s that Penguin 4.0 is exactly that, an update to the existing algorithm. Nothing’s changed in its inherent purpose or functionality, it’s just made things more fluid and immediate.

Therefore, if your link profile and strategies are as they should be – ‘Organic’ – then this algorithm update is only going to benefit your rankings and SEO return on investment.

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