Google released a statement on September 23rd 2016 announcing the release of its Penguin 4.0 update which would now run in real time. Here is the statement that Google issued:
“Penguin is now real-time. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. (…) With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.”
Read the full blog post here.
The Penguin updates have generally gone after unnatural backlinks and over optimisation of anchor text ratios in the past. The first main Penguin update occured in 2012 and many sites got penalised. The interesting thing about this latest edition is that along with it running in real time (no more waits for the algorithm to refresh) it is also been done on a page to page level, so it may be even harder to recognise if it only affects one or two pages on your website.
Several experts in the SEO industry believe this rolling algorithm update to be a good thing and predict it will improve the quality of search results by reducing the amount of spam techniques used by “black hat” SEO practitioners. The roll out is far from complete so it is impossible to draw any conclusions as of yet.
In my opinion, this latest algorithm update now means we need to be even more aware and proactive with monitoring a websites backlink profile. Whether you’ve done poor SEO on your own site (way too many exact match anchor texts!) or have been the victim of a negative SEO campaign, you need to audit your link profile on a more regular basis and get those links removed or disavow them through Google Search Console.