Google Penguin Release

Google Penguin Release At Long Last!

The Google Penguin release finally - FINALLY - happened on or about September 23, 2016. Almost two years since the last update or rollout, take your pick, this one is different for different reasons. Let's go over the rollout, how it penalizes link strategies (schemes) and what it means now for link building.

Read more here and here.

google penguin releaseThe biggest change is that Google finally managed to program this penalty to run in the main algorithm real time. This is good and bad. The good is, it runs all the time, penalizes links in real time and is probably faster as a result. If you think you've been Penguin slapped, as soon as you take care of the bad links pointing to your site, your recovery begins right then.

The bad is that now we no longer have a definite start and end to the penalty. Much like Panda, which also is baked into the search formula, it's getting harder to figure out if a site has been hit by one of the penalties or one of the black and white animals. This means as an SEO professional, you've got to understand what Google wants in terms of good content, website usability and user experience more than ever.

A Big Difference With This Google Penguin Release

Here's one of the biggest differences - bad, toxic, poisonous links pointing to your site are now devalued, and demotion of a site is no longer the prime purpose of the algorithmic penalty. Think about that for a minute - if a spam site is linking to you, those links get devalued, with less impact to you.

With external links getting devalued automatically by the search engine, this could decrease one of your monthly SEO maintenance tasks of downloading and analyzing new links to your site to catch the bad actors and update your disavow file. Any time you can get back to do other work is always good.

Another significant change is that Penguin is not site-wide, but is more page specific. It's possible that large chunks of a site could be penalized, but for Penguin to no longer be a blanket penalty is still an improvement over past iternations.

Should I Continue To Use The Disavow File Action?

One of the reasons why I didn't trot out a post immediately last week was because I was waiting for some settling to occur, and to hear more from Google about the impact of the release and any new actions we SEOers would have to do.

Google now says you can use the disavow file, and they appreciate if you continue to do so, because this helps them build an inventory of sites that are spawning the bad links. Since I've recommended doing this at least monthly as a maintenance task, I'll continue to give this advice.

I'm reading that sites that have been hit by previous Penguin penalties are recovering now, but that the recovery isn't complete. This makes sense, because if affected sites got high rankings from excessive link schemes, then they won't get those rankings back since the bad links no longer count. Again, this is a good thing the search engine has done with this penalty.

Overall, I'm in favor of this new, improved Penguin. It's not nearly as punitive, recovery is much faster, and it tells me that going forward, Google will do a better job of figuring out that bad links to our sites that we are unaware of shouldn't punish us.

If you'd like to learn more about link building and troubleshooting your link profile, join me in a SEO class soon. You'll see how to set up a monthly maintenance task to stay on top of your links, plus you'll see how to create great, user-friendly content using the targeted keyword phrases your prospects plug into the search engines to find your business solutions.

If you need SEO basics, it's available now as an online course as well.

Until we meet again, keep it safely between the ditches!

All the very best to you,

Nancy McDonald

Image courtesy of xura at

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