From simply being devalued to becoming ‘toxic’, bad links have come a long way. If you’re hearing the term ‘Penguin’ (in Google search algorithmic context) for the first time, this algorithm is an update that was first rolled out in April 2012. What the Penguin algorithm does is that it keeps a close watch on a site’s backlink profile with a view to identifying unnatural or spammy links. The rankings of a site faced with a Penguin-based penalty can degrade almost immediately. Worse still, recovery isn’t immediate or easy even after fast reconciliatory action.

Till now, Google has updated its Penguin algorithm six times. The last update happened in December, 2014.

We’re now awaiting Penguin 4.0!

Whether you’re the owner of a website, an SEO professional or an internet marketer, it’s crucial to understand what Penguin 4.0 will be about, and how you should prepare for the same in advance.

Penguin 4.0Since Penguin 4.0 is an update to the Penguin algorithm, there’s no doubt that this update too has everything to do with low-quality, spammy or unnatural links or backlinks. According to SEO experts, what’s different with the new Penguin update is that it will continuously occur in ‘real time’.

So, how does it impact your site’s SEO? Well, after the launch of Penguin 4.0, both Penguin-based search penalties and recoveries from the same will happen almost simultaneously. Earlier, webmasters had to wait for the recovery for weeks or months or till the next Penguin update after removing the harmful links or taking the remedial steps. But things will change with the launch of the new Penguin update in question. If the newly updated Penguin algorithm hits your site, you can hope to recover from the loss of rankings almost as soon as you get rid of the bad links that caused the search penalty. After the roll out of this much-awaited update, the Penguin algorithm will run independently, without requiring manual data refresh.

While some believe that Penguin 4.0 has already started rolling out, others maintain that it’s still to come. It was first expected to roll out at the end of 2015. When it didn’t release last year, it was expected again in the first quarter of 2016. But the wait still continues. In any case, Google hasn’t yet announced or confirmed the reports of Penguin 4.0 having already been started.

How You Should Prepare Yourself!
Since a Penguin-based penalty can do serious damage to an entire site and Penguin 4.0 is expected to be a real time update, it’s always advisable to prepare yourself in advance. You know it: the best defense is a good offense.

The Penguin algorithm is all about a site’s backlink profile. So, the very first thing you should do is take a microscopic look at the backlink profile of your site. Conduct a backlink profile audit, if you haven’t done it yet. Seek out those links that are spammy, unnatural or of low quality. Remember, even a handful of spammy links could ruin the value of 100s of high quality links. Keep an eye out for all those links that look suspicious or that Google can become suspicious of. Once found out, update your disavow file consequently.

Additionally, you should evaluate whether your internal linking practices are sound or legitimate as per Google quality guidelines. Most importantly, give your link building plan of action a closer look. Make sure that you (or the team involved) commit to a healthy, natural link building plan on a regular basis.

If you lack adequate experience or knowledge about conducting a backlink profile audit or working out an effective link building strategy, you should not hesitate to seek the help of a well-qualified SEO professional or agency. Appropriate action taken in time will protect your site against future Penguin penalties, and your online business will continue to grow uninterrupted.