Google never did like sites that spam its search results. That is one of the reasons why it gives nightmares to spammy sites by constantly releasing updates and tweaking its algorithms. This not only affects search results but also traffic.
However, most of these updates are just minor patches. The last major update came 2 years ago – Penguin 3.0. As of now, Penguin 4.0 is on its way. Another major update that can have a lasting effect on present search engine optimization practices.
About Penguin 4.0
Google has rules. If you break one and is caught for the act, you get penalized by the search engine. Google uses spam filters to identify websites using black hat SEO techniques to climb their way up, and those that bend the rules to trick the search engine. Until now, there was no specific time for when Google would execute a spam filter.
So once a website is penalized for breaking the rules, they will stay penalized till the next spam filter which could be months away. In the meantime, they wouldn’t be able to clear their names by going the right way. They will have to wait for the next filter to clear the penalization.
Penguin 4.0 is fortunately real-time. This means that penalized websites can quickly recover from the punishment as Google will soon send crawlers to check if they have learned the lesson, and index them again if they did. With the right mix of good effort and proper SEO tactics, the websites can get back their original ranking (or higher) before they were penalized. Changes will be in effect faster with Penguin 4.0
Google revealed that the Penguin 4.0 update is more granular, however it’s still unclear what they mean by this. It’s clear that the ranking will be adjusted depending on the spam signals identified. But it isn’t clear whether this would affect only certain sections of the website or the website as a whole.
Has it Affected your Website Already?
To identify if your website has been affected, you could do a few things.
- Check impressions, CTRs, click and average position from the search analytics section of the Search Console. If there had been any recent drops, then there is a chance that Penguin 4.0 has been through there.
- Use Google Analytics to assess your organic traffic stats. If you notice any considerable changes in the stats before and after Penguin 4.0 went live, Penguin 4.0 could have been the cause.
- Assess your current backlink profile stock with audits to see if any spammy links popped up.
What you can do
As of now, the best things you can do are:
- Add the spammy links and domains you identified to your disavow file
- Follow white hat SEO practices
- Keep your website active with regular posts and changes in the interface.