On September 23rd, 2016 Google announced that the Penguin signal received a huge update. This can be great news for anyone who is an online marketer or retailer.
First a little background: While Google does not publish their search algorithms, they do state that they use over 200 ranking signals as a basis for their search engine rankings. One of these signals is called Penguin and its primary purpose is to “catch” websites that tried to game the system by keyword stuffing and link schemes. When Google first used Penguin, many online merchants saw their rankings drop precipitously as the tricks they relied on were now caught.
While this was great news for the users of Google and the quality of its results, it created a problem. Legitimate retailers who had made a mistake, or were victims of bad SEO (Search Engine Optimization) advice and services now received a severe penalty. Not only did they have to fix their pages, they often had to wait, and wait, and wait for the next Penguin update. It is not difficult to find stories of merchants having to wait up to a year for Google to recognize that they fixed the offending info on the site and for that to be reflected in search results.
Google recognized that this is a problem and has now announced two significant changes:
1.) Penguin is real time. Once Google re-indexes your pages, any adjustments made that impact the Penguin signal will be reflected. Gone are the days of waiting and waiting for a Penguin signal refresh.
2.) Penguin is now on the page level. Previously a “bad” page could result in your entire site facing a Penguin penalty. Now the damage will be limited to the page(s) in question.
Additional information can be found on Google’s blog post here.
This Penguin update is welcome news for legitimate merchants. Google will now recognize any mistakes corrected on their sites almost immediately. Since mistakes do not carry the consequences they once did, marketers have additional freedom to explore new concepts and ideas.