Penguin 4.0: Google Releases Cool New Algorithm Update

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

On Friday 23rd September 2016, Google announced it was rolling out its latest Penguin algorithm update across the world in a bid to stop sites spamming search rankings by updating how backlinks are viewed. You can read the release here.

But after hearing the news we have questions. So, we did a little research and here’s what we found.

1. How Long Will It Take to Roll Out Worldwide?

If you’re feeling impatient and want to see this algorithm now, you’ll be happy to hear Google says that Penguin data is refreshed in real-time, so any changes will be made as soon as a page is crawled and reindexed by Google’s spidery bots. But, as we all know, there is no set timescale to when a page gets analysed.

In fact, it can take anywhere from 4 days to 4 weeks. So, if you haven’t seen any changes yet, keep an eye out over the next few weeks.


Google’s official announcement says:

‘Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. 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.’

Though, there’s more to the ‘real-time’ announcement than may meet the eye. This change means that this Penguin algorithm update is the last of its kind and edits will be made as part of Google’s core search algorithm from now on.

2. What Proportion of Searches Will This Penguin Update Affect?

In 2014, the last Penguin update affected less than 1% of search results in the UK and USA. This was the equivalent of around 12 billion searches. A few days in, it appears that this will be a similar sized update.

3. What Are the Expected Outcomes?

According to a post by Dr Peter J. Meyers on, September has seen the most volatile rankings in four years. But he believes it is too soon for these fluctuations to be the result of Penguin 4.0, so what did cause them? Or, did Penguin 4.0 actually roll out before its official announcement?

Well, there have been no official statements, but Dr Meyers has reported a huge effect on SERPs with image results on page one. He has also found that local pack URLs have dropped noticeably.
Here’s one of his MozCast snaps:

serps sep 9

What long-term affect will Penguin 4.0 have? Well, that may be hard to measure.

But, from the dozens of blogs we’ve read and hundreds of tweets we’ve skimmed, it appears there has been very minimal change. Most haven’t noticed a change at all in the last few days since its release. But you never know, so watch this space… and your rankings.

4. Have You Noticed Any Difference?

So, far we haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary, but if you have we’d love to hear about it. Tweet us @_libertydigital.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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