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Google Penguin kicks in real-time.

Google recently announced that “Penguin” has now been added to their core algorithm.

You’re likely already familiar with Penguin. If you’ve watched any of my courses we have discussed what Penguin is and what this algorithm looks at. Now that Penguin is “real-time” this means that changes are visible much faster. This also means that Penguin has become more granular. Previously Penguin would devalue your site based on spam signals it discovered. Now Penguin has the ability to target specific pages rather than acting as a site-wide penalty.

An interesting thing to note is we now know this is being folded over into the core algorithm, but we don’t know exactly when this took place. Recently (prior to the Penguin announcement) search results were extremely volatile. Sources like Mozcast recorded record high temperatures several days in a row. Did Penguin begin to silently roll out ahead of the announcement, causing an initially large uptake in search fluctuations? Probably. Google, unfortunately, doesn’t always notify webmasters before a large algorithm adjustment. The timing of this roll-out being over a holiday weekend here in the U.S. points toward Google trying to subtly push this out without causing a stir.

What does this mean for website owners?

Websites will now be penalized in near real-time. It may be more difficult for you to go back and see when your ranking drop coincided with an update, which gives you a hint at the spam signals Google is devaluing your site for. On the flip-side, for sites which have made extensive efforts to clean up their spam, your recovery will be much faster.

Even with the Penguin algorithm in place, link spammers previously counted on the fact that they could use spammy link tactics to get high-rankings relatively quickly as it would take some time for Penguin to catch up to them. As part of the core algorithm this means that Penguin will catch these sites much quicker.

What does this mean to SEOs?

If you want to stay ahead of the game, it’s important to follow best practices and build a good SEO foundation with a healthy link profile. This means a regular audit and cleanup of links will be necessary. Even if you aren’t actively building links, spammy links can and do show up quite frequently – so be sure to stay on top of this.

The concept of negative SEO is quite real, and possibly a reason why the refinement of this algorithm took so long to get it to a place where Google felt comfortable rolling this out large-scale. Changing Penguin to affect sites on a more granular level instead of penalizing the entire site will help the innocent sites getting caught up in SEO crossfire. Rather than penalizing a site due to these negative links, Google will simply devalue them.

As I’ve mentioned previously, SEO is getting harder by the day. SEOs should always be looking at a bigger picture of digital strategy rather than just SEO as an isolated tactic. This means less automation of SEO tasks (like link building) and more brain power devoted to things like improving user experience, creating engaging content that will garner links, and more.