Google Penguin Update

Even though it sounds like a horror B-movie, Penguin IV is as you may have guessed Google’s latest update. Google’s Matt Cutts has said that the new algorithm update is set to hit at some stage of 2013 and it will impact on SERPs in a big way.

For those that don’t know, Penguin is a link quality filter that uses a number of techniques to uncover manipulative linking. Recent versions have had significant impacts on results, with the last being released in October 2012. Of course, with the number of moves by Google since, it will be interesting to see the sheer mass of data available.

Google is certain to use information collated from its disavow tool to identify troubled areas and also its work against web spam in the vein of the Interflora incident to identify black spots. There’s a lot of new information at the search engines hand, so what can we expect Penguin IV to impact?

Link Velocity

The rate that sites acquire new links will also be examined during this update. Google will look at new links and evaluate spikes and extraordinary linking patterns. In turn these are likely to be devalued. Google expects to see a constant volume of links and anything that it deems above a normalised number from the average may see the links being devalued. This can be seen via troughs and spikes of links, something that signifies less than natural linking.

Social Signals

Social signals have been big news for years now and are expected to play a significant factor in this version of Penguin. Social authority does certainly make a lot of sense in some share prone areas, though in others it just wouldn’t work. However, expect Google + to still remain a more major factor in determining trust than social signals.

Anchor Text

Anchor text has and will be a tell-tale metric when it comes to spam and is a true sign of link quality and trust. By looking at the anchor text and the quality of the website, as well as the relationship between branded and non-branded anchor text, Google will get a good idea of whether links are spammy.

Increasing the number of white noise links and brand links to lower the ratio to keyword exact phrases is a good idea. Expect the algorithms understanding of natural linking to improve and also expect the percentage of allowable spammy links and exact match anchor text ratios to fall too.


We’ve heard an increasing amount of chatter about neighbourhoods in recent times and they will be a major part of the up and coming update. Neighbourhoods are all about association and trust and in essence are based on the linking company you have on your guest post site. Webmasters that have links from sites that lack trust and which also link to other low quality sources are seen as being in what’s known as ‘bad neighbourhoods’. These links may soon be seen to be worth a lot less and this will affect rankings significantly.


This is always an area that is closely looked at and Google will be improving its semantic text to build up more information on whether links are relevant.
So, there are a number of things to think about before this new major update. So, take a look at your site and see what you can improve upon pre Penguin IV.