Real Time Penguin Is Here

After over two years of waiting “real time penguin” has finally arrived. This update, like other Google updates, is now part of the core algorithm of the search engine and will be “real time” every time your site is crawled.

What Is The Penguin Update
The Penguin update was introduced in April 2012 as a way to stamp out spammy link building practices. Before the update, Google had found it hard to battle against web spam, determining what is a natural and what is an unnatural link. Link building was a numbers game. The more links you had, the higher up the rankings you went, regardless of whether these links were relevant or if you had paid for them to be built.

Manual Actions
In the beginning of April, Google launched measures to punish private blog networks. These were essentially low authority blogs with relevant topics, with spun poorly written content with a link back to the target site. These could be bought in bulk for only a few dollars, but were hugely effective in gaining high visibility in the search engines. The search engine released “manual actions”. This action was taken against sites which may have broken Google’s webmaster guidelines, which had their link profiles reviewed and any suspect behaviour was penalised (meaning a lower ranking in Google). A message from Google was also sent to the webmaster in Google’s Webmaster Tools (now Google’s Search Console) to advise them they must remove the offending links (without actually disclosing what these were) and then resubmit a request to advise the steps they had taken. Any links they were unable to remove were to be submitted in a text file to Google (called a disavow file), to advise they had taken all reasonable attempts to remove the link(s) and they were no longer associated to the site.

Automatic Penalty
Obviously they needed a way to automate this process and on April 24th, they released the Penguin update. Unlike the manual actions this was automated update, which meant that sites did not receive any notification their sites had been hit. Chris from web design company Impelling said “If your site had triggered a red flag with an unnatural link profile, too many links with keywords in them or low authority links, your site was demoted. This could mean either you wouldn’t appear in the first twenty pages for keywords your site was optimised for, or a partial hit, which meant your site may drop a single page.”

The main issue with the early versions of Penguin was the time between the updates. Removing the offending links and placing a disavow file for the ones you couldn’t remove took time and a huge amount of work and then having to wait almost two years to see if you had done enough to get your site recovered, hardly seemed fair. Whilst no one was against Google cleaning up the way the algorithm could be cheated, not having a clear way to recover, once you had broken the rules, seemed a harsh punishment.

Real Time
Google listened and although it took over 2 years to come about, the real time Google Penguin update was rolled around September 23rd 2016. This took on some of the concerns of earlier Penguin updates and runs in real time. What this means is if you have built links which Google has an issue with this will be reflected in your rankings, the next time Google crawls your site. This makes diagnosing issues a lot easier and the recovery time a lot shorter. Another great change brought about by the search engine, is the fact the update “devalues” rather than “demotes”. This means that the offending links simply have no value towards the site and are ignored, just like they hadn’t been built in the first place. No actually removal work is needed and no need to disavow any links you haven’t been able to remove. This seems a fairer way for the search engine to work as spammy techniques will just become ineffective.