The Evolution of The Penguin

02 / October 2016,

The Evolution of The Penguin

A real life Penguin might appear to be waddling as it crosses the snowy fields of the far north, but the flightless bird has survived and flourished in an inhospitable atmosphere by adapting.

Maybe it was that kind of diligence and dedication to survival that has inspired Google’s latest Penguin algorithm update, making this version Penguin 4.0. Evolution is the key to survival and whether that’s on the Antarctic ice and in its waters, or in the cold inhospitable environment of cyberspace, constant change is the way to success.

 Originally Designed To Catch and Keep

Originally designed to catch and keep sites that were spammy, this search engine net held tight and those sites that had been penalized were immobilized until the next time the filter ran, which could often take months. There’s a history behind this update that goes all the way back to Penguin 1.0, first released on April 24th, 2012 that impacted 3.1% of queries. Fast forward to Penguin 3.0, released in 2014 and finally the latest version, Penguin 4.0 that was announced last month.

Now Google has taken the next leap and made the updates real time. As the search engine revisits and re-indexes pages, the new filter will work catching and freeing those websites as part of a constant ongoing process. So the real question is: what does this real time change mean for all those websites that swim in the oceans of cyberspace like krill (the favorite food of the real Penguin) and how can SEO help them from becoming a meal?


Characteristically, some of the information that Google is supplying about this latest update is vague. For example, while leaking out the news that the latest version is “more granular,” the best interpretation so far seems to indicate specific pages on the site might be impacted while others are left alone.

As well, Google seems to be indicating that this real time Penguin update will be rolled out rather than just introduced. That means the number of queries impacted isn’t clear because the update itself is evolving as it moves forward.

Building Blocks

Regardless of the minutiae and how this all plays out in the long run, some things are already apparent and links are still one of the fundamental building blocks.  At least part of this real time shift for the Internet’s biggest search engine has to do with keeping some of the fundamentals they laid out before. In other words, it’s steady as she goes with creating relevant and interesting content that can organically gain popularity in the Internet community.

Last Update Of Its Kind

This is widely thought to be the last Penguin update of its kind and organic visibility is still the best way to chart the vast ocean of cyberspace for SEOs. It’s important to underline the fact the new changes will be in real time and any changes will take effect shortly after they recrawl and reindex a page.

Penguin4.0 is going to force SEOs to stay on their toes even more than they have been in the past. Here’s a few things that you need to look after to buck up against anything this latest update might throw your way.

  • Improving your internal links is always a good idea and a great bulwark especially now. Penguin isn’t just about external links coming in from the vast spiderweb that’s cyberspace to any particular site. Two suggestions here can help your optimization. First, make sure that all links are related to each other and verify they are all not using exact match keywords.
  • It’s good to keep in mind that a real life Penguin’s body is adapted for swimming and tapered at both ends. That means they can hunt under the surface of the water and that’s a good relevant image to keep in mind if your website has some hidden spamming back links. These dead giveaways are best removed naturally.
  • Diversity is another key you can’t afford to ignore. Branded and nonbranded back links are important but there’s no secret ratio involved as to which side you should focus on.
  • Here’s another interesting fact about those birds that share the same name as their Google counterparts. An Emperor Penguin can only move at 5 miles per hour top speed. You should take that cue from these birds when dealing with the Google update. Translation? When in doubt about what this real time change actually means for SEO, taking the slower and more methodical approach is the better way. Keeping things White Hat and not trying to manipulate SERPS will more than likely pay off.

scientistvectorReal time Penguins live in a challenging environment where they’ve needed to evolve to survive. Keep in mind when you’re an SEO dealing with this namesake update in cyberspace, constant evolution on the Internet and the Arctic is all about common sense.  If you’re looking at optimization just for the sake of SEO, you’re more than likely going to be doing some things that will run afoul of this latest update.

In other words, spammy links and directory listings are only going to put you on this Penguin’s radar. Top-heavy websites with too many links and not enough excellent content will make for a slow moving target for this new version that’s learned how to hunt in real time.

There’s no getting around the fact that businesspeople are looking for bottom-line solutions. Unfortunately, that translates often into cheap SEO solutions unless Penguin 4.0 finally puts an end to some of these Black Hat tactics that have little value.

Remember, it’s important not to put the cart before the horse when you’re building a website. Putting together something of quality with excellent content and then seeking exposure and recognition is the way to navigate through those deep vast Internet oceans without falling victim to this latest predatory Penguin that’s always looking for prey intent on cutting corners.