While there is confusion about whether the upcoming update to Penguin is 4 or 2.0, there is no doubt that a major update is around the corner.Â Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, announced that it was coming back in March and, if rumors are to believed, it is still on schedule to go live any day.
Penguin 1 rolled out on April 24, 2012 and affected 3.1% of search queries. By any measure this had a significant impact on various websites and specific industries.Â Cutts has gone on record saying that this update to Penguin (which they refer to internally as Penguin 2.0 but the SEO community counts as Penguin 4) will be “more comprehensive and go deeper” than the original Penguin.
The goal of Google’s webspam team is to improve the quality of search results for the end user. This means recognizing websites that are authorities for that query and that provide unique and valuable information.Â Spammers or Black Hat SEOs attempt to fool Google into putting their results first so that they siphon off the traffic for high volume search queries and translate that traffic into profits.
Each of the major Google updates, whether Panda or Penguin or all the way back to Florida, attempts to counteract specific problems in the search algorithm that have been successfully manipulated by spammers.Â The ideal result would be better search results. The actual result is that countless companies and brands find their websites disappearing from the search engine results pages (SERPs) and losing customers by the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands.
When it comes to the next Penguin update, webmasters can expect the following:
- Changes targeted to improving queries such as “payday loans,” porn queries, and other queries that are contested by spammers as highly profitable.
- Penalties for or devaluing of advertorials, paid content designed to pass as regular articles.
- Blocking paid ads or paid content that attempt to pass PageRank in violation of Google’s quality guidelines. Said guidelines require “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of paid status.
The update will also attempt to address honest sites that were negatively affected by previous updates. Since the Google algorithm isn’t perfect, it sometimes penalizes legitimate sites by mistake. As currently planned, Penguin 4 will try to soften the impact on true authority sites due to improved signals for recognizing site authority.
Of course, Penguin 4 won’t be the end of the updates.Â Google is constantly working on new improvements and rolling out minor and not-so-minor changes.Â According to Cutts other changes in the works for summer 2013 include more sophisticated link analysis, better communication tools for webmasters, and improved hack site detection.
Malcolm Pegge is a freelance tech writer whose work has appeared on dozens of tech blogs and magazines. In addition to following SEO and marketing technology, he has been known to research sports technology.