Towards the end of September, Google announced a major Algorithm update called Penguin 4.0, in which the search giant switched from looking at Penguin Algorithm factors (mainly spam links) in manual, irregular, periodic updates to employing an automatic real-time process, in a more granular way. To put it simply, before the end of September, if you had acquired dodgy spam links or engaged in similar spammy tactics, you might have got caught out by Google, who would then have manually penalised the whole of your domain/website. This penalty could affect your rankings and traffic for as long as it took for you to, firstly, detect that you had been penalised, secondly, take steps to clean up your act and, thirdly, an additional time for Google to update its manual spam penalties. The Google Penguin 4.0 change means that now, if you are naughty and get found out, you can get punished almost immediately, but if you constantly keep monitoring your backlinks, keep your site in order and sort out any issues, any penalty you might get could be removed almost immediately AND it won’t be the whole of your site that is punished, just those pages where Google identifies spam signals.
So will Penguin 4.0 Affect Your Site?
We originally believed that the change should not really affect sites that had engaged in legitimate “white hat” SEO tactics and would only really affect those sites that had suffered Google Penguin penalties. The word on the SEO street tended to echo this, with Moz reporting that the initial impact was surprisingly small. With the Penguin 4.0 rollout now complete, what we have seen from the monitoring of our clients rankings, search visibility and traffic, is that those sites with whom we have been working with over a period of time (and where we are confident that their link profile is healthy and clean and their SEO strategy ethical), have seen encouraging improvements in their visibility/rankings. We have, on the other hand, seen one client achieve a huge improvement in search visibility and core rankings, resulting in a near doubling of traffic. This we have attributed to the antics of their previous SEO company, that we have spent the last year cleaning up after. The only sites where we have seen drops are those who we have just taken on and where we are in the process of auditing and cleaning up their site and link profile
That said, as so many of our client sites have seen improvements, it might be assumed that the sites that they are competing with have seen corresponding decreases, which does underline the importance of having a strong, ethical, long term SEO campaign in place.