Penguin 4.0 The Big Deal That Just Got Bigger

Google announced they were rolling out the real time version of their Google 4.0 Penguin Algorithm last week.

This week, Google’s Gary Illyes stated in a Facebook conversation with SearchEngine Land’s Barry Schwartz that “traditionally, webspam algorithms demoted whole sites. With this one we managed to devalue spam instead of demoting AND it’s also more granular AND it’s realtime.”


This casual conversation has created quite a stir in the world of SEO practitioners and takes the Penguin 4.0 rollout from Big News to HUGE.

To put it simply this indicates that Google is supremely confident in the Penguin 4.0 algorithm’s ability to differentiate between high quality and low-value links and will simply ignore the low-value links rather than penalising the entire site (as has been happening since 2012).

For SEO clients this can mean that their SEO provider doesn’t have to spend as much time removing or disavowing spammy links and can instead concentrate on building new (better) links. And that might mean more positive proactive work rather than time spent cleaning up shoddy work undertaken by previous SEO companies.

On the flip side this also creates a situation where those SEO companies that work in the Grey/Black hat arena will push the boundaries (potentially at their clients’ expense). They may want to see how far they can go (in terms of the volume of links) and how low they can go (in link value).

Why should you care?

Illyes does state that “Manual actions are still there, so if we see that someone is systematically trying to spam, the manual actions team might take a harsher action against the site”.

We have always taken a more conservative “white hat” best practice approach to link building. This week we have already seen a noticeable improvement in rankings of some clients where their main competition has been using questionable link building strategies.

This does not preclude an aggressive approach to link building in certain situations but quality links still need to be the focus.

Think of link building like a kiwi saver scheme.

  • The “Conservative” approach is low risk and you can be confident your results will improve over time in a slow steady fashion.
  • The “Balanced” approach can be a mix of traditional conservative strategies but include testing the boundaries in rate of growth and quality of links.
  • The “Active Growth” approach would be higher risk strategies investing a greater percentage of time and effort to grow the link volume at a faster rate with less attention to other core SEO strategies.

Different approaches will suit different businesses dependent on their current situation (much like retirement savings schemes). I strongly suggest you talk to your SEO provider and discuss your options in this area.

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About the Author Glenn Marvin

Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.

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