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6 October 2016  /  
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Google Penguin 4.0 Update: Key Takeaways for SEO Practitioners

Google Penguin 4.0 Update: Key Takeaways for SEO Practitioners

Google changes its search ranking algorithm 500 to 600 times in a year, however, it rolls out major algorithm updates with some official announcements. On Friday, September 23, 2016, Google officially announced on their Webmaster Central Blog that. This update is named as Google Penguin 4.0, which means version 4. Penguin algorithm update was first announced by Google on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, as a move towards rewarding high-quality websites and penalising low-quality websites. The Penguin algorithm was rolled out to fight against unnatural backlinks which are used by web spammers to artificially manipulate the keyword rankings.

History of Google Penguin algorithm updates

Although there were 7 Penguin algorithm updates, Google didn’t give them numbers as we see below. These numbers are supplied by the experts in the search engine marketing industry.  Here is the quick snapshot with a history of Google Penguin algorithm updates.

Updates Version Date Impacted Queries
Penguin 1 1.0 24 April 2012 3.1%
Penguin 2 1.1 26 May 2012 0.1%
Penguin 2 1.2 5 October 2012 0.3%
Penguin 4 2.0 22 May 2013 2.3%
Penguin 5 2.1 4 October 2013 1%
Penguin 6 3.0 17 October 2014 1%
Penguin 7 4.0 23 September 2016


Penguin algorithms are focused on website backlinks which is one of the key rakings factors among 200+ unique signals used by Google to rank a website in its organic search results page. They rewarded sites with high-quality links and penalised websites having unusual linking patterns which used aggressive web spam techniques to manipulate the rankings.

Key Takeaways From Google Penguin 4.0

Search Engine experts across the industry were awaiting the for Penguin 4.0 update from Google for more than 2 years. Here are some key takeaways from recent Penguin 4.0 algorithm update.

  1. Penguin becomes “part of core algorithm”: Penguin is a real-time ranking signal processed within Google’s core search ranking algorithm which is updated frequently
  2. Penguin runs in “real-time”: Earlier, webmasters had to wait for Penguin algorithm refresh, if they were affected by it. Since Penguin data is refreshed in real time, webmasters need to wait longer. Usually, changes will take place shortly after Google re-crawl and reindex a page.
  3. Penguin is “more granular”: Google indicated that the update is more page-specific than the whole This indicates that only keywords associated with the pages are affected by ranking than site wide.
  4. Google will no longer comment future Penguin updates: Google confirmed that future Penguin updates will not be notified.
  5. Penguin 4.0 is rolled out in all languages: Penguin 4.0 is rolled out in all languages and will affect related search queries.

Google indicated that webmasters shall  that are highly user friendly & interactive. Search engines will value such websites and it will be beneficial for users and rewarding for webmasters.

You may see an improvement, dip or no change in your website keyword ranking with recent Penguin 4.0 algorithm update. It is a good opportunity for websites who were negatively affected by earlier Penguin updates to review and recover the lost rankings. Furthermore, it is an occasion for any webmasters to analyse their existing backlink profile and refine them with quality links.