The penguin 4.0 penalty hurricane hit the websites on 23rd September 2016

Penguin 4.0 attack!

The penguin 4.0 penalty hurricane hit the websites on 23rd September 2016, taking a core place in the Google Algorithm Update.  If you identify that you have suddenly lost a terrible number in your organic traffic, and then trust me, you are not the only one who is affected. 

Gary Illyes of the Google Search Ranking Team has stated his view on the Google algorithm update -

“Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time.

Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google's algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed.

With this change, Penguin's data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page.”

Analysis of the key features of Penguin 4.0 Update

1. Penguin 4.0 Update, is real-time now:

It was stated, that Penguin 4.0 is now part an essential part of Google algorithm Update. This implies that every time, a page is reindexed or recrawled, it refreshes Google’s Penguin algorithm as well.  We can also say that, since, it is frequently refreshing, there will not be any another web-wide update soon also, Google will not be “confirming” on the updates, as it will be happening constantly.  So, any positive and negative changes on the updates will be recognized sooner, and it also silently implies that Google will notice errors faster than ever and will quickly alter the website rankings.

2. You can recover from your Google Penalty faster with this real-time Google algorithm update:

If your webmaster really works hard in improving the website and removing the bad links, then you will positively see the results after your website’s pages are recrawled by Google. Hence, you will see a faster recovery of your page from Google Penalty.

3. Forwards, Penguin is a part of Google’s core algorithm and not a separate filter:

As a result of which you will have to constantly spectacle your backlink profile! It’s going to be a tough job for the webmaster’s this time. If you happen to overlook even minuscule changes in your website traffic, then there are chances that Google Penalty might likely knock you down.

4. Even improved websites will be affected by this Penguin 4.0 update, especially the ones which are stuffed with keywords and unwanted back links.

5. A granulated Penguin Penalty now penalizes individual pages rather than the entire domain.  Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land requested Google for a clarification and has posted the following comments based on the response from Google -

“Our best interpretation... is that Penguin might impact specific pages on a site, or it might impact sections or wide swaths of a site, while other pages are fine.”

6. It might be difficult to identify the impressions of Penguin Penalty:

Since Penguin Penalty 2016 is real-time, it might be difficult to find out if the ranking changes are caused by the Penguin refreshes.  John Mueller(@JohnMu) has stated the following lines on 25th September 2016 in Twitter -

@512banque @methode Given the way these things roll out, I'd say "good luck" -- I don't think that's easily possible, lots of things overlap”

7. Google has not changed its linking guidelines:

Jennifer Slegg, a spokesperson from Google, mentioned that the company has not changed any of its guidelines with regard to linking, and regardless of the various rumors, John Mueller has stated in his twitter page that, even the recommendations for using disavows remains the same.

@glenngabe OK, clearer: no change on using the disavow file. Use it thoughtfully, as always.

8. Google still recommends everyone to focus on quality of the content, not SEO: Content always plays a unique part in SEO. 

When you overstuff your content with target keywords, you might get a hit from the Penguin Penalty.  The content should be relevant to the user and it should be unique too. Instead of stuffing the content with keywords, try to use Latent Semanic Indexing and prefer to use long tailed keywords. This will help you recover from the Penguin Penalty.  Google's Gary Illyes closed the announcement of Penguin 4.0 Update with a note...

“The web has significantly changed over the years, but as we said in our original post, webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites.”

The significant part in recovering from the Google Penalty 2016 is to analyze and find out what caused the drop in rankings.  Just like a doctor does a health checkup & diagnoses, your site would require a thorough Backlink audit and then fixing up the Penguin Penalty issues.

Getting equipped for the “real-time” Google Penguin 4.0 update, 2016:

Google aims at providing a user friendly experience to its search engine users, so, your objective should be to avoid spammy contents on your website, and try hard to provide a better quality feel to your audience.  Then you don’t have to worry about any Google Algorithm update.  Here are a few rules to remain the best for your audience –

  • Have relevant and engaging contents
  • Offer the best user experience
  • Present your site in its best speed
  • Develop the website in such a way that it gains the trust and respect of the audience

These points can be of great help to you in your link building process and make it easier of you in present and future too.  Here, we present to you a step by step guide, on how to fix the Google Penalty 2016.

How will bad links influence your Search Rankings – a lesson to learn from Google Penalty 2016?

There was a time, when low quality links had less impact on the search rankings, and Google Manual Action was only on obvious manipulation, after all, you can’t limit someone who links to your site, you might not be aware of it too. 

But, now after the Google Algorithm Update – Penguin 4.0, the scenario is worse, Links with low quality will make your Google Rankings take a tumble.  Penguin update is full-fledged now, catching any spam links. This has led to a great increase in Google Manual Action too, as Google has added up more members to its spam team who do a thorough check of the sites.

What was the reason for the Penguin 4.0 - Google Algorithm update 2016?

1. Penguin Update influences Huge fluctuations in Ranking

The SERP pages were looking a way lot different than it did look a week before the implementation of Google Algorithm Update - Penguin 4.0. There were many notable changes happening, some are positive while some were negative for the websites across the globe.  This was not a surprising factor of the Google algorithm change, but, it was for sure a hope for a very sensational change when compared to the past years.  The anticipated change was expected to be a very vital one, even more crucial than the Google’s dreaded Mobilgeddon update.

2. Google Analytics was smashed

Google Analytics faced a lot of issues since September 7, 2016.  Google had openly pointed out that they were really undergoing many problems through Twitter.  The tweet goes like this –

“Some users may be experiencing issues with real time reporting. We are working on a fix and expect to have everything back to normal soon.”

A temporary fix was made on the Analytics error – to use the incognito browser window or clear up the cookies.  Google also expressed regret over the inconvenience caused and assured that they will get back with a permanent solution to fix the Google Penalty problem and got back on 23rd September, 2016 with the Penguin 4.0 update.

3. There have been crawl errors

Google also failed to crawl a site’s URL and guided the webmasters to an HTTP error code page. Before the Google Algorithm Update many webmasters reported crawl errors on Google’s search console.  The errors included “linked from” lists that were redirected to no longer existing and closed pages.

To fix the Google Penalty 2016, you should know if you are hit by a Google Manual Action or a Google Algorithm Penalty….

Google Manual Action:

You will get a Manual Penalty from Google, when Google’s webspam team conducts a review on your link’s profile and makes a Penalty. The prompt for this review might have been caused when:

  • Your competitor reports a spam on your site
  • At times, your link profile will also trigger a manual review
  • If you are in a competitive niche and actively monitored by Google
  • And your bad luck too can cause a penalty

How to know if you are hit by a Google Manual Action?

Usually, you will receive a notification in the Google Search Console, like this -

 Google Manual Action

Google Algorithm Penalty:

This penalty is automatically applied by Google, depending on your link profile. 

How to know if you’re hit by the Google Algorithm Penalty?

You will not receive any notification from Google stating that your site is penalized, instead, you will see a sudden drop in your organic traffic & it will look like this -

Google Algorithm Penalty

Be it manual or algorithmic, a Google penalty will be the cause for a significant drop in your organic traffic. In certain cases there are chances that your site could be completely de-indexed.

You would require the following tools for your backlink audit to recover from Google Penalty 2016

Tools & Products used:

  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • A-hrefs
  • IP checker
  • Do-follow Checker
  • Anchor Text Analyzer
  • Google Disavow Tool
  • Microsoft Excel

Check if your site is having the following issues to escape from Penguin Penalty:

  • If your Anchor Text is over optimized
  • If too many links from the low quality/spam sites (bad links) are pointing to the site.
  • If many bad links are pointing from irrelevant sources.
  • If Paid links and link schemes are causing trouble.
  • If the visitors are automatically redirected to a different page when they clicked on the search results.
  • If the visitors were forced to stay on the website by immobilizing the functionality of the browser’s back tab.
  • If most of the contents were of low value and copied contents.
  • If the ads are heavy on the page.
  • If the site has a bounce rate of more than 60%.
  • If most users have created new pages and comments to the existing pages, and left with link back to their site for anchor link text.

Steps to recover your site from Google Penalty 2016:

Step 1: Check if any of your pages are affected

“The Penguin algorithm will be able to devalue spam by adjusting the ranks based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site”

If you suspect that you are affected by the Penguin Penalty, then you will have to check your page level traffic in Google Analytics first. If you find that there is any gradual decrease in your organic traffic for the page, after Sep 23, 2016 then your page is affected by the Penguin 4.0 update.  You need to do a backlink analysis for the affected pages, and then proceed on with the ways to remove the low quality links.

Step 2: Backlink Analysis

  • As a first step, check the version of the website, if it is www or non-www and collect the backlinks in a spreadsheet.  You can either use Web Master Tools, Ahrefs or majesticseo for this purpose.  We would recommend you to use the following tools for the analysis:,ahref,do-nofollow checker was used for this process.
  • Link SchemesRule out the backlinks that comprises of reciprocal links, PAID links, partner Links and recommendations.
  • SiteWide Links: The blogroll links also has to be removed as this will lead to the inflow of new links.  This will take a lot of time and several attempts when you contact the webmasters, if not you can send a reconsideration request to Google.
  1. As you scroll through the report, look for low quality links or bad links.  You need to scrutinize the following:
  • Links with spammy anchor text
  • If there are any foreign language sites linked to the page
  • Backlinks from spammy or suspicious domains

When you click on the number, under the backlinks column, you can view a lot more.  You can also see the URL of the linking domain individually along with the anchor text of the link.

  1. As a next step we classify these Backlinks to ‘Dofollow’ Domains and ‘Nofollow’ Domains.
  2. Now with the help of the ‘Dofollow’ Domain list you can now step on to the recovery process of Google Penalty 2016.

Google usually revokes

  • Domains that contain “buy links”, “paid links”, “article”, ” links”, ”high PR links”, “free links”, “free list”, “SEO link”,
  • “Banned Network IP’s”,
  • “FFA, SPAM & Link farms”,
  • “Forum Signatures”
  • “Low quality directories”

Step 3: Anchor Text Audit

You have to be sure that the density of the Anchor Text complies with the norms, and sent a request mail to the Webmasters to alter the Anchor Text with High Density of Keywords. Also disavow certain links where the Anchor Text could not be revised.

Anchor Text Audit

Step 4: Reaching out to the webmasters

This time, you will have to collect the contact details and advocate with all bad link domain owners through the available sources viz., Email, contact form, Facebook, twitter etc.

This is a sample mail which we use to contact the domain owners.

Reaching out to the webmasters

And…if at all you do not receive any information for the bad link domains, then send a ‘Disavow request’ to Google.

Step 5: Disavow Request

When you do not get any reply from the Webmasters regarding the link removal, you will have to step into the process of Disavowing and sending Reconsideration request to Google.

Choose the apt indexing version of the website before sending the request to Google. Also, create the Disavow file with all the bad domains and high risk anchor text links that was proving harmful to the website.

Finally upload the disavow file in the Google Webmaster Tools using

Reconsideration request to Google

Disavow Request

Step 6: Reconsideration Request to Google

Finally, a detailed mail has to be sent to Google stating all the efforts that was taken to resolve the issues.  This is also termed as ‘Reconsideration Request.’  The mail should contain the details of all the websites that was contacted and from the bad link domains which we haven’t received a reply.  An explanation should also be offered on the strenuous effort taken for manually removing a large proportion of links.  Ultimately, the reconsideration request message should contain a document of all the efforts and tools, used by the team with the relevant screenshots and contact details.

At last, after the revoke of the Google Manual Action, your site will witness an improvement in the organic traffic, for most of the pages in the website and a positive multiplication in your sales.

Good News: According to the Penguin 4.0 update, it functions on a real-time basis, which means, you no longer will have to wait for an extended time for recovery. A specific time frame cannot be mentioned as to how many days will Google take to remove the bad links, but we can assume that Google might take a maximum of 30 days to remove the penalty.

If you identify that your site has undergone an impulsive drop in organic traffic which is affecting your sales is or if you have engaged spammy links in the process of link building, then Trust me, your business will be dead in no time!

If you wish to know more on this Click here to get a copy of your e-book worth $14 “Google Penalty Recovery and Prevention Manual” which is absolutely free!

Because of the Google Algorithm Update - Penguin 4.0, we will soon watch more fluctuations in ranking, upwards and downwards, also from page to page.  Anticipating to see more changes until the update is fully rolled out in the upcoming weeks.

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Penguin 4.0, Google Penalty 2016, Penguin 4.0 atta

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