Although it’s been almost two years now, Google has finally released its new Penguin update, marking the fourth time that the algorithm has been modified. In addition, it’s the first time that the core search algorithm processes Penguin as a real-time signal. So what does this mean for your website’s SEO?

Real-Time Processing

Google’s Penguin algorithm was created in order to catch spam sites that the company’s standard detection systems have missed. Whereas before the filter only operated periodically, the new Penguin 4.0 algorithm assesses sites on a real-time basis as Google re-crawls and re-indexes the pages within its search engine.

Page-Specific Rankings

With the new real-time algorithm, Penguin adjusts site rankings based on spam signals as opposed to older versions of Penguin that implemented site wide penalties and altered entire site rankings. Google has been unclear as to whether these penalties still exist, although from what we can tell the algorithm now has the ability to target specific pages on websites as well as large sections of them, something they refer to as a more “granular” nature. So if you have a couple of spammy sections on your site, your entire website likely won’t be affected – penalties will most likely be given out on a page-by-page basis, or to certain swaths of the website.

Is It Live?

As of now, it seems that Penguin is in the process of being rolled out. It’s still unclear how long this process will take, but our best bet is around a couple of weeks. For websites that Google regularly checks on, these changes will likely be felt sooner in comparison to sites that are infrequently visited.

For sites that have already taken a hit from Penguin 3.0, you will likely still be impacted by Google’s Penguin 4.0 update. On the plus side, the real-time nature of Penguin 4.0 means that you can use the disavow file to take care of links that are bringing down your ranking, instead of having to wait for future Penguin updates. Of course, this also means that Penguin can affect you much quicker than before, so keeping on top of your site’s content and quality is critical to its success.