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Witches Aren’t the Only Ones Wearing Black Hats

For those of you who think of penguins as just cute animals- think again. Google’s spam-detecting algorithm, known as Penguin, just got a whole new look in time for Halloween.

Penguin was first rolled out by Google in 2012 to detect sites that use spam-like or black hat techniques to improve webpages search rankings at the cost of user experience. Just last month, Google launched the fourth installment of Penguin, which works by flagging and devaluing the search rank of webpages that look like spam.

With this newest update, Penguin becomes part of Google’s core search ranking algorithm, along with Panda, an algorithm that rewards high-quality websites with higher rankings. This also means that Panda penalizes websites that use SEO trickery (no treats here) to improve rankingsand you thought pandas were only good for rap songs and costume inspiration.

Penguin also now updates in real-time, instead of waiting every few months. Rather than being stuck in Penguin purgatory between updates as punishment for shady activity, changes will be made as soon as Google re-crawls your site. Getting caught by Penguin is now a more fluid process and incentivizes website owners should improve their sites more quickly.

Penguin 4.0 is much more granular, which means penalties will be delivered by page, not by domain. This means that individual webpages will now be penalized separatelythink of it like tossing the bad apple aside so as not to spoil the fun for everyone still waiting to bob for apples.

What does this mean for you? The new updates clearly work to treat webpage owners who routinely maintain their webpages. This means we need to pay closer attention to the quality of content online and to audience behavior: Do visitors to your page respond well to the content? Are they engaged? If the content isn’t resonating with your audience, you may want to consider a refresh. As with all of Google’s products, quality over quantity remains the golden rule.

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