Google update: Real time Penguin? Or something else?

We’re currently seeing one of the biggest and most dramatic changes in Google rankings we’ve seen in the last few years. At first we were guessing it’s the promised real time Google Penguin roll out, but all the reports seem to say that it’s multi-faceted and not really tied purely to links, so we’re not 100% sure. In this post I’ll explain what we know right now and what we think about that.

Why everybody thinks it’s Google Penguin

There’s a simple reason why everyone thinks this is a Google Penguin roll out: Google has been talking about an upcoming real time Google Penguin update for months and has said, through several people, that it’d come early this year.

There’s another reason: there are few types of algorithm updates that can have such a dramatic impact on rankings. There are 200+ ranking factors in play (some even say thousands but whatever). When you tweak one of those ranking factors, not all that much is bound to change. Unless the factor you’re tweaking is one of the factors that the original algorithm was built on. That’s exactly what Google Penguin does: it changes how links are evaluated.

Reports from around the web

We’re seeing quite a few reports from around the web saying things are in turmoil. Let me link a few:

Read those and you’ll see that none of them really know what’s happening yet. One of the things I would guess, based on looking at the data, is that a couple of other signals have been factored in.

It’s absolutely not certain yet that this is truly Google Penguin.

One post that came in while I was writing this is this one by Bartosz Góralewicz. He shows some interesting data from the spammier side of the net, but isn’t ready to draw conclusions yet.

In the Netherlands we’ve also seen some changes coming in on Friday / Saturday and the search results looking the same as early last week again today. I’m waiting for the SearchMetrics reports to come in to see whether we can truly establish a trend.

What a real time Google Penguin could do

While looking at what this could be, I was thinking about what the impact of a “real time Google Penguin” would be. Links are the very essence of how Google started making the web searchable. Its link based Pagerank algorithm was what made it so good when it first started. Links have (largely because they were so important) become the Achilles heel of every search engine that followed that method. We’ve been writing about link building a bit recently, mostly because a lot of people seem to be doing it wrong.

Google Penguin, when it first came out, aimed to make links usable again as a metric, by punishing bad actors so severely that people were scared away from trying to game Google. It only rolled out every 8 to 12 months, so you could be punished for quite a while before your site started to properly rank again.

A real time Google Penguin, which would update constantly instead of every once in a while could, in my eyes, therefore have quite the opposite effect of what Google wants it to do. If people can start testing with what works and what doesn’t work, and can get “out of jail” pretty easily, this might actually lead to more link spamming, instead of less. Time will tell.

Coming up next!

28 Responses to Google update: Real time Penguin? Or something else?

  1. Koemsie Ly
    Koemsie Ly  • 8 years ago

    Thanks you for this information!

  2. Dmytro
    Dmytro  • 8 years ago

    Nice! Thank you for this informative post!

  3. Khaled
    Khaled  • 8 years ago

    Thank you for this informative post!

  4. Khaled
    Khaled  • 8 years ago

    Good and informative post! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Nicholas Dutko
    Nicholas Dutko  • 8 years ago

    I don’t believe this update is a true Penguin update. I mean, it has the impact of one, but there are too many signs that point to “NO”. I don’t like the click bait happening to get people to click and read. Yeah, it helps to rank, but only for a short time. I am looking forward to the next few Google updates. I think my websites will jump in the rankings as my competition falls. ;-)

  6. Ren
    Ren  • 8 years ago

    this is the most informative and truth behind this last update..
    most of the other post from other seo blogs didnt know what they are talking about, probably google laughing on them ,
    im suspecting this last update is about quality of website, when talking about quality theres a lot of fact its include user experience and many more aspect..thats why other seu guru clown says its a panda, its correct but incorrect as well, there is more into like yoast says time will tell. lets see

  7. Gerva Sharma
    Gerva Sharma  • 8 years ago

    Hey joost i want to know one thing
    When i update any post on my blog instead of showing modified date on Search Rich Snippet the publish dates are showing up.
    So how to solve that
    And if i change the publish date with modified date means same modified date and publish date then will it affect my SEO.

  8. Sereyboth Yorn
    Sereyboth Yorn  • 8 years ago

    I don’t see any much change lately for my website organic traffic!

  9. sudhir
    sudhir  • 8 years ago

    We should always follow white hat SEO only. By doing this, no one has to much worried about any type of updates. We should just focus on right strategies.

  10. Brendon
    Brendon  • 8 years ago

    This is not a Penguin update but is instead a core algorithm update.

    • Joost de Valk

      Yeah we’ve seen that too. I’m closely investigating, but to be honest, can’t make much of the changes yet, some very weird winners and losers.

      • Brendon
        Brendon  • 8 years ago

        Yes, sorry I didn’t mean to jump on you :)

        Just want to say though that I appreciate the time that you spend on research and writing about this. I enjoy reading your updates.

  11. Wes Dunn
    Wes Dunn  • 8 years ago

    Was following this over the weekend also, the SEO world hits fever pitch with that sort of Serp volatility, we should all be fine if we are doing our jobs right though, (I hope :-) )

  12. webseology
    webseology  • 8 years ago

    I am exceptionally left to see new google penguin update..thanks for the information

  13. Mahesh Dabade
    Mahesh Dabade  • 8 years ago

    I am hearing a lot of buzz about this new Google Penguin update. You cleared many of my doubts.

  14. Monishkumar mv
    Monishkumar mv  • 8 years ago

    What are the changes made and what should we concentrate more on.
    I have been seeing some wired things in traffic and spammers side also.

  15. Marcin Mar?
    Marcin Mar?  • 8 years ago

    What will the penguin 4.0 ? As in the last sentence – time will tell . Thanks Joost for the interesting publications

  16. George Leung
    George Leung  • 8 years ago

    For me, I think this “real time Google Penguin” is actually very helpful for those who do white hat SEO like me. In my industry, especially Apartment industry, there’s always a peak moment for any apartment project when lots of people try to search for that term to find the info.

    So that, many web owners will carelessly over-optimize their web, tons of keyword point to their web just for this moment. They won’t be afraid of google penalty. Because by the time Google penalize them, they’re already out of the game. (Next time when a new apartment project is rolled out, they buy a new domain and just do what they were doing before.

    Now you can see how disappointed I am in this situation. Hope that Google will have this update as soon as possible.

  17. Robert
    Robert  • 8 years ago

    Really clarifying info, very helpful! Thanks!

  18. Gerando Resultado
    Gerando Resultado  • 8 years ago

    Thanks for the information, that’s a very interesting perspective.

  19. Bartosz Koplin
    Bartosz Koplin  • 8 years ago

    We still have no information about rise and fall connected to this algorithm update. Need to wait to look closer on it.

  20. Aline
    Aline  • 8 years ago

    Interesting perspective about Google Penguin, I researched many quality articles on Dejan SEO website but here everything is very clear, thanks.

  21. Krzysztof Furtak
    Krzysztof Furtak  • 8 years ago

    At least we’ll know if our linkbuilding is ok or not without waiting for update;)

  22. Isaac
    Isaac  • 8 years ago

    Good one Joost.. If such algorithm will be in real time, I believe webmasters can easily tweek their webpage contents, link buildings, articles and know exactly what works in real-time unlike waiting for months of tweeking. Well, time will tell exactly what Google has for us all in 2016. Can’t wait to get the beat of it though.

  23. Lori Newman
    Lori Newman  • 8 years ago

    Thanks for the information, this post is very helpful – seeing a lot of discussion on this today.

  24. Mathew
    Mathew  • 8 years ago

    It will most definitely lead to more spam and way more savvy link builders manually manipulating links and ruining what the true core evaluation of Google was all about, which was links happening naturally. Let’s face it, most people do them manually anyway, but I would imagine the link competition will rise vastly if this turns real-time and people can easily experiment without any great consequence. Things have really gone downhill after Matt Cutts left.

  25. robin khokhar
    robin khokhar  • 8 years ago

    I always trust any algorithm, if the news is given some by google people like Matt Cutts or Bigger SEO firms like SEO Moz or Search Engine Land. And this post is really informative.

  26. Jan Hvizdak
    Jan Hvizdak  • 8 years ago

    Finally some realistic view, all those “It’s penguin” articles have been written just to gain traffic, and are misleading webmasters big way. As there’s no proof it’s necessary to wait for confirmation or denial from google.