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Google Penguin 4.0

Another year, another Penguin announcement from Google. For many online businesses, the dreaded penalties of Google’s Penguin updates have caused many a sleepless night, with the hopes that the marketing and SEO teams employed to optimise web performance have been working ‘above board’ often little more than an exercise in blind faith. The good news, however, is that this latest update – Penguin 4.0 – is set to be the last of its kind issued by Google.

But what does Google Penguin 4.0 entail, and what does it mean for your online presence? We at Minerva Creative take a look at the finer points of Penguin 4.0 and the likely impact you can experience.

Google’s key requirements

When it comes to search engine rankings, Google’s search engine takes into consider more than 200 ranking factors. Identifying the effects and weighting of each individual factor is a closely guarded secret (think the Colonel’s famed KFC recipe or the precise ingredients that make up the perfect glass of Coca Cola). What we do know, however, is that Google places the utmost emphasis on developing high-quality, authoritative content. With great content come great links, great engagement, great social impact, and, ultimately, great search engine rankings.

The impact of Google’s two most significant algorithm updates – Panda and Penguin – over the past few years has seen websites that develop lesser quality content, spammy links, etc., penalised and suffer significant falls in the search engines. As such, recovery has been as much a part of modern SEO work as developing new channels of success. Unfortunately, it could often take weeks, months, or even years for Google to recrawl and reindex every page, link, and ranking signal in order to achieve complete recovery.

This is where Penguin 4.0 changes the game.

What is Penguin 4.0?

The recent announcement from Google highlights two key points:

  • Penguin is now running in real time
  • Penguin is operating on a more granular level

Both facets of this announcement represent great news for website owners and SEO professionals. In particular, the fact that Penguin is running in real time is a boon for digital marketing professionals.

Why real time matters

It’s not unusual for even the most diligent of marketing and SEO experts to have fallen foul of some ‘quick wins’ and low-quality SEO tricks over the years. After all, the goalposts have shifted so often and with such speed, it would be almost impossible to have not cut a few corners here or there, right?

Paying the price for a simple mistake should not mean your website has to suffer in the mire for eternity (ok, maybe eternity is a SLIGHT exaggeration). The simple fact is, it’s often taken far too long to recover even after removing or disavowing spammy links that caused the problem. The real time nature of Penguin 4.0 means that waiting is no longer a burden you should bear. If you made a mistake, make the correction, and achieve the redemption you deserve.

There will undoubtedly be those that will spend their lives looking at ways to manipulate this system, but for those of us that believe in best practice and maintaining websites to the best quality possible, the opportunity to recover in the event of a mistake no longer means sleepless nights waiting for the thumbs up from Google.

What of ‘granularity’?

Slightly more vague, however, is the claim that Penguin 4.0 will operate on a more granular level. At first look, this seems to say that no longer will entire sites be penalised for spammy inbound links to a solitary page. Once again, this is music to the ears of SEO experts who may have taken over management of an account that had been mishandled, and are tasked with rectifying the mistakes of the previous company.

It remains to be seen, though, precisely how this granularity will operate; it may be based around individual pages, or whole sections of a website. Alternatively, individual links may be given consideration over the aggregated approach seen in previous Penguin updates. Regardless, it will be interesting to follow how such a level of detail operates and interlinks with the real time nature of Penguin 4.0.

How to approach SEO following Penguin 4.0

Achieving optimum performance in Google’s search engine demands that SEO professionals adhere to the key principle that ‘quality is everything’. When it comes to content creation, reputation management, link building and outreach services, and even PR, it’s essential that investing the time and resources necessary for a quality website are followed.

As such, the approach to SEO following the announcement of Penguin 4.0 doesn’t really change much at all. For those SEO experts that have been adhering to best practice, not investing in cheap links, not investing in poor quality content providers, etc., there is almost no need to change the approach. For others, meanwhile, it is time to change.

The importance of links

With each new announcement from Google, there comes fresh hope that the importance of link building and establishing relationships with those within your business’ industry will diminish. Of course, if this were the case, SEO and website management would be a great deal easier. With Penguin 4.0, there is no sign of this changing (sorry, folks).

Links have always been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, of the utmost significance in achieving quality rankings in Google results. And, just as it is for developing content, quality is the operative word.

Sure, you may be able to create a handful of great content pages and achieve 1,000 backlinks. But what about consistently generating content according to a well-planned content marketing strategy? Having 100 pages of high-quality content that only attracts 250 backlinks may seem like harder work for less reward, but the value of those links and the authoritative nature of your site will set you apart. This will be natural. No alarm bells will be ringing. And no penalties from Google will be forthcoming.

This is how SEO should be, and how SEO must be, from now on. If you’re not following best practice and providing what Google wants, how can you expect to NOT be penalised?

Embrace common sense

The introduction of Penguin 4.0 presents great opportunities for SEO professionals, small businesses, and website owners to achieve more online. But it’s essential you listen to your common sense. All too often, settling for the cheapest option for SEO services, copywriting services, and link building means sacrificing quality and putting the integrity of your website at risk.

By embracing common sense and working alongside SEO providers that embrace best practice and conduct work that adheres to the needs of Google’s search engines and fulfils the requirements of users, you can anticipate greater success online.

It will undoubtedly prove a fascinating time in the coming weeks and months as Penguin 4.0 takes hold. To find out more how the impact of the algorithm update can affect you, contact the team at Minerva Creative today.

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