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From Tanking to Ranking: What the Penguin 4.0 Update Can Teach Us about the Future of Search

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Organic SEO

Goo·Gul Al·Go·Rithm Up·Date
Definition: When Google changes the way it displays search results.
See also: SEO freak-out.

While some strategists feel paralyzed by the seemingly constant flood of changes that Google produces on a regular basis, they forget the simple fact that algorithm changes are for the user, not the marketer.

In days past, some folks were making big money using some, shall we way, “controversial” methods of obtaining web traffic. It was a great way for spammers and scammers to make a quick buck by gaming the system for their own benefit. Many SEO companies also latched onto this idea and used a variety of means to get the traffic they needed to deliver promised results.

Some of these outdated methodologies included getting links from all sorts of low quality websites, agonizingly bad content, keyword stuffing and other various black hat schemes.

Once Google started catching on, however, the end was near. This meant that harsh penalties were inflicted on sites that were aligned with these practices. When those new search updates hit, businesses got pushed off the grid because of their manipulation tactics.

For over 10 years, Google has been refining its search algorithm to fulfill a searcher’s intent and weed out any questionable SERPs. Penguin was one of the largest and most notable updates, of Google’s long and eventful journey.

Illustration of a man at his computer freaking out

The Punisher

In the past, Google put its foot down and penalized entire sites for being low quality or partaking in SEO no-no’s. This caused marketers to scramble, trying to undo the damage which had already been done. Businesses lost money and people were angry.

With the new Penguin update, the folks at Google decided to change their tactics to something less intimidating, demoting pages instead of entire domains.

So, if you were to have a few pages with some bad links pointed to them, those pages would be more affected than the entire website. Feel the relief yet? It gets even better…

Faster, Google, Faster!

Another interesting aspect of the Penguin 4.0 update is that it works in real time. If you’re actively getting some spammy links under your belt, you might notice the penalty pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if you’ve already been hit with a penalty, it will be much faster for you to recover, after you take the necessary steps to remove those low quality links.

As such, the effects of Penguin 4.0 will likely be less dramatic than the previous updates, but it will also affect the search rankings. Since the change is happening so rapidly, you may notice that the SERPs will be changing just as frequently, albeit at smaller increments.

man holding ipad with graph

Recovering from the Penguin 4.0 Update

While Penguin 4.0 has helped a lot of sites bounce back from prior Penguin updates, it is having the opposite effect on others. If you believe you may have been affected by this recent algorithm change, you’re in luck.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease your worries and improve your site’s rankings.

  1. Audit your backlinks. What links are pointed at your site? Are you seeing URLs coming from a Russian Final Fantasy fan page? What about getfreelinksforseo.com? Those are DEFINITELY not doing you any favors. If you see things like this, it’s time to act.
  2. Bye-bye bad links. There’s a new sheriff in town. While penguin 4.0 has stated that they demote the power of spammy links, it’s still a good idea to be proactive and do a manual disavow in Search Console. Tell Google that you don’t want to be associated with those guys.
  3. Check on your SERPs. You already Google yourself, so make sure you Google your business on a regular basis as well. Watch for position changes on searches for which you already rank well. If you start falling behind, it might be time to investigate what’s going on with your links.
  4. Acquire some high-quality, white hat links. If you’re worried that most of your links are garbage, then its time to get in the driver’s seat and take control of your SEO. Of course, this is easier said than done, as getting fabulous backlinks is a time-consuming process. If you’re thinking about hiring a low cost company to pump out some quick backlinks, even if they guarantee quality, remember that “you get what you pay for.”

V Digital Services

So what can we learn from Penguin 4.0? At V Digital Services, our analysis shows that it’s going to make searches more equitable and more relevant than ever before.

Google is actively working on wrapping all their different algorithms into a single, core bible of best practices. If you are creating quality content, keeping your website technically sound, and building white-hat backlinks, you’re likely in the clear.

If you need assistance with this process, or if you need to help your site recover from some questionable backlinks, contact V Digital Services. Our expert SEO team understands the Penguin 4.0 update and we are ready to use our knowledge and skills to help your business website make the most of it.