Penguin’s Latest Update? It might be ongoing

Anyone who experienced last year’s slow rollout of the Penguin 3.0 refresh knows that Google’s timing can be somewhat unclear. So when the SEO community began noticing unexpected search fluctuations in early February, many of us wondered if another algorithm change hadn’t quietly landed on our doorstep.

It turns out, however, that whatever was happening had nothing to do with Penguin or Panda — according to what company representatives told Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz at least — and was likely just a regular tweak to the results. Why the concern in the first place? It could be about a major change that’s happening to Penguin itself.

In December, Google reported that Penguin was moving away from the date-specific updates it’s been using since 2012 and into a new system that tweaks and optimizes on a continuous basis. These live updates could potentially get rid of the standard data pushes in favor of quicker changes that happen more frequently.

This is probably a good thing —many SEOs had been pushing for faster Penguin updates in the first place — but we’re still not sure how the switch will affect sites that relied on the algorithm updates to re-boost their rankings after link removals or other efforts. On one hand, it’s possible that those changes will be processed continuously with the live updates. On the other, it might mean that the processing gets put on hold until Penguin 4.0. As of December, no SEO reporter had received clarity on that. We’ll let you know as soon as we get more information.