In early 2012, Google launched its first Penguin update for the company’s search engine. This update was launched in order to prevent sites from spamming the search results and using link schemes to manipulate the site’s rankings in Google’s page rank system. Since the initial launch, several updates to the Penguin algorithm have been released.

In early September of this year, Google launched the Penguin 4.0 algorithm update. Penguin 4.0 is the latest update to the algorithm and has slowly become better at finding this spam. This update is now an integral part of how Google chooses page rankings based on page content.
What changes have been made in Penguin 4.0?

Two important changes have been made to the algorithm with the Penguin 4.0 update, including real time refreshing and the devaluation of spam by penalizing pages rather than the entire site.

In the past, the data that was collected by the Penguin algorithm was periodically refreshed. Since the release of Penguin 4.0, the data that is collected by the Penguin algorithm is refreshed in real time. Real time data refreshing means that any changes will be made almost as soon as the affected page has been recrawled and reindexed. Changes to the rankings will be visible much faster.

Before the Penguin 4.0 update, Google penalized an entire site if one of its pages was considered to be spam (i.e. if the page used link schemes or contained excessive user generated spam). This means that an entire site’s listing could be dragged down in the site rankings just because of one particular page. With the Penguin 4.0 update, that is no longer the case. Instead of dragging down an entire site due to a particular page, only the offending page is adjusted in the rankings.

How do these changes affect SEO practitioners?
Many SEO experts believe that the new version of Penguin is fairer and will play a positive role for the SEO community since the rules regarding spam and link scheming have been softened. Instead of being penalized heavily for excessive links, you are rewarded for quality content.

Additionally, since the new version of Penguin is refreshed in real time, you will not have to wait months until you see changes to your page’s indexing. Instead, you will see results almost instantly (or at least within a few days or weeks). This aspect of the update is extremely helpful to site managers and owners because you will be able to quickly fix any SEO mistakes you have made on your websites without having to wait months.

Although the update brings some major changes to the way pages are penalized and the time it takes for changes to take place, little has actually impacted the way in which sites rise to the top of the rankings. Well written and useful content is still the best and most secure way to optimize your site for search engines. Avoiding the generation of spam and limiting link scheming will also help your website rise to the top.