Google’s Penguin algorithm forms a large part of the way Google evaluates and ranks a website. With the last major update to this algorithm on October 17, 2014, some new information has finally been released on when we might expect the next one.

On Jan 20, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, responded to Jamie Dodd’s question asking if we’re “… weeks or months away from the aforementioned “penguin” update…”.

Gary’s answer is promising, suggesting that we can expect it to be this quarter this quarter, though as we know nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to Google updates.

Real Time Penguin & Part of the Core Algorithm

Gary has also confirmed that this update will see Penguin form part of Google’s core algorithm, much like Panda did recently.

The fact that these updates will be done in real time also means, at least in theory at this point, that we won’t have to wait months to resolve Penguin penalty issues which is great news for everyone involved!

This same update was originally scheduled to roll out in 2015 and this was still on track until Gary confirmed in December that it would be delayed as it was not quite ready for release at that point.

What This Means for SEOs

Given the amount of warning we’ve had for this update, this news should simply act as a prompt to keep a closer eye on your traffic and ranking reports. You have already cleaned up your link profiles and submitted a fresh disavow, right?

In case this news has caught you by surprise, there are a few elements to look at in your link profile that really should be addressed immediately:

  • Link quality – Are the links to your site relevant and from websites you actually want to have associated with yours? “SEO directories”, article submission sites etc should not be dominating your profile!
  • Anchor Text – Particularly if you have an old site, your link anchors might be a little keyword-heavy. This can be tough to fix quickly but if there are any links you can easily change, giving a more natural distribution is a good idea. Typically the most common anchors should be variations of your business name and URL.
  • Link Placement – Take a look at where your links are placed on the page. The real aim should always be legitimate editorial links, typically placed amongst relevant content. Having some sidebar links and even the occasional footer link are perfectly fine but if most of your links come from sitewide footers, you may want to address this quickly!
  • Language and Location – This one is arguably less to do with Penguin and more to do with best practices for a generally strong profile but don’t overlook the location and language used on a website. If you’re a small, local plumber, you really don’t want 90% of your backlinks coming from Russian fashion websites.