Did your Google Rankings Change Overnight?  

While it’s too soon to see the full impact of Google’s Penguin 4.0, here’s what you need to know.

What is Google Penguin?

In a nutshell, Penguin is the name of a Google algorithm, designed to catch websites that are spamming search results. The first iteration launched in 2012; the second version of the algorithm was unveiled in 2014, followed by newcomer Penguin 4.0, which arrived over the weekend.

Ok, so tell me about Penguin 4.0

Penguin 4.0, dubbed the ‘real time update’ by Search Engine Roundtable, is targeted over optimised websites. Over optimisation is two-fold. Firstly, it occurs when there’s an overuse of keywords that are unnaturally placed. The second thing to bear in mind is the over optimisation of link profiles, meaning, if you have too many links from external sites pointing to the same keywords on your web page, it’s time to update your disavow file before you get penalised.

Moving forward, there’s one piece of advice I can offer that may serve you well – use keywords to write for your audience and not for search engine rankings, as the latter will get you found out and penalised by Google before you can say “penguin”.

How exactly will websites be affected by Penguin 4.0?

The two key changes that will occur are as follows:

  • You will start to see considerable fluctuations in Google rankings from now on, as real-time updates occur when changes are made to your website.
  • Penguin 4.0 is more granular and penalises specific pages on a site. Previously, it was a domain-wide penalty, which will now convert the specific page being penalised.


  • Penguin is real-time! When a webmaster updates or optimises their website, Google will now recognise these changes quickly, and rankings will change accordingly, meaning goodbye lag time.
  • Penguin 4.0 penalises competitors’ sites that aren’t doing things by ‘Google’s book,’ like taking shortcuts for short-term rankings. If you have been following Google’s best practice, and building genuine authority in your online marketplace, then you’re likely to see a positive effect on your website’s rankings. 


  • Penguin is real-time. I know I’ve referred to this as a ‘pro’ (above) but it’s also con. You need to ensure your website is being optimised and updated correctly, as Google will now notice errors faster than before, which can adversely affect your rankings.
  • SEO is becoming much more sophisticated over time and Google is getting faster at seeing unnatural tactics. Regularly updating your SEO strategy and monitoring your website’s backlinks is essential to remain compliant with Penguin 4.0.

How can I get the most out of Penguin 4.0?

Marketers should always keep an eye on the backlinks on their websites and perform regular checks using the Google disavows backlinks tool. The main difference between good and bad backlinks depends on the quality of the website they point to. Obsolete backlinks will see your site penalised.

If you’ve noticed fluctuations in your website’s Google rankings, there are a few steps you can take to alleviate any negative impacts:

  • Clean out any hazardous links
  • Review keyword density on your website – is the keyword repetition natural?
  • Add some big brand links, where appropriate

 Watch this space.

Since Penguin 4.0 has only just landed, we’re bound to learn more in the coming week, as it rolls out further. Keep your eye out for more insights.


One thought on “Did your Google Rankings Change Overnight?  

  1. Excellent! A good article and useful. Thank you!


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