1 Year Since Penguin Went Real Time – What Have We Seen?

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It’s been a whole year since Google released its Penguin 4.0 real time algorithm. Our Head of SEO Jade Coleman explores our findings from the last 365 days.

A year ago on 23rd September 2016, Google released Penguin 4.0, which updates in real time.

This release continues to prevent sites from breaching Google’s Links Scheme Guidelines, but with a more granular approach. As such, digital marketers can find themselves at the mercy of a double-edged sword if they’re not careful.


Real time updates = quick improvements. Marketers don’t have to wait for a manual penalty to be lifted, and any drops in rankings will be reinstated faster after a reconsideration request has been accepted.


Link-related penalties are implemented in real time. Although the recovery process is a lot quicker, the penalisation process is also a lot faster.

A year ago we posted about the ways in which you can try and avoid a Penguin 4.0 penalty.

Here’s a quick re-cap:

  • Conduct Backlink Audits – analyse and then remove any unnatural links that are unrelated or poor quality, then prepare a disavow file for Google.
  • Good Quality Content – this speaks for itself. Make sure your content is data-driven and in-depth to engage your visitor and acquire rewards (natural links and social signals) for your site.
  • Track Keywords – monitor rankings to stay ahead of the competition. Make sure you track keywords on all of your pages, not just at a surface level and monitor these regularly

1 Year On

So, what have we noticed in a year since Penguin 4.0 real time waddled into our midst?

One thing is for certain – when we compare to statistics pre-Penguin 4.0, our clients have seen a definite increase in visibility.




Above images: Screenshots from BrightEdge’s Data Cube for one of our clients.

In fact, our top three statistics show a difference of over 80% in client visibility since 23rd September 2016.

This can be attributed to a number of different factors, the main being regular backlink auditing and disavow file renewal.

From these findings, we can say Penguin 4.0 generates good results long term, in conjunction with the link reputation management strategies we had in place pre-Penguin.

Here’s what I recommend:

Regular link reputation management is crucial to ensure your backlink profile remains in line with Google’s link scheme guidelines. Essential to this is making sure that when link building, this also abides by those guidelines. We recommend link auditing is carried out every month or so depending on the rate at which your backlinks grow. It’s important that those backlinks in breach of the guidelines are either changed or added to your disavow file in Google’s Search Console.

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