Google Search Algorithm Updates- Penguin 4.0 and Possum, Here’s How They Affect Your Business


You may have heard of ‘Penguin’ & ‘Possum’ floating around as buzzwords for a while now, here’s a brief on everything you need to know about these updates and how they affect you

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In the latter half of September, Google announced the launch of two major algorithm updates – Penguin 4.0 and Possum. In case you’re wondering why Google pushes algorithm updates constantly, here’s the deal –

Google is on a mission to deliver the best search results to their users. That’s why they are constantly updating and changing their core search engine algorithms, to push webmasters (you) to create better sites, content and user experiences. These updates aren’t meant to mess with your SEO – rather, the aim is to crush black hat SEO.

Let’s start with understanding Penguin 4.0 and how it will affect your site and content pages.

Penguin 4.0

Release date – September 23, 2016

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Penguin 4.0 seems to be the final update to the Penguin initiative started by Google in 2012 to combat web spam. The algorithm targets websites that indulge in black hat SEO practices or “over-optimize” to manipulate search rankings, by keyword stuffing or cloaking. You can read the official announcement by Google on releasing Penguin 4.0 on Google Webmaster Central Blog.

  1. Penguin is now real-time –

    This means that rather than running on a periodic basis, Penguin 4.0 now runs in real-time.
    What does it mean for you?
    The biggest advantage for marketers and advertisers is that they can now recover from penalties within days or weeks, instead of waiting for the next algo update.

  2. Penguin is now granular –

    This update focuses on individual pages rather than a website. This means that now if Google finds spammy tactics being deployed on certain pages – it will penalize only those particular pages by demoting them, the entire website won’t be affected. However, it’s still not clear if Google will assess penalties on a page by page basis, or if an entire section of a site will get affected. Technically speaking, Google will focus on devaluing spam rather than demoting a site, with this new update.
    So now that Penguin is a part of the Google core algorithm, here’s what you need to do-

    1. Wait to react, just observe

      After any major Google algorithm update – always wait and observe for a few weeks. Keep checking your Google analytics stats, page ranks and organic traffic. More often than not, if you’re doing your SEO the right way, then your site may not get affected negatively at all, you could even see a boost!
      Only if you see a negative impact on site, should you go ahead with making the necessary changes.

    2. Make necessary changes to your site pages

      Please read up on credible sources before you start making amends to your web properties. Checking and reading the Google Webmaster Blog is a great place to start. Read about all the information they have posted, and look at what the update was meant to target. If your site was hit, it’s likely these are the things you need to work on.
      Once you have identified a bunch of possible issues, start fixing them one by one and track the progress. In most cases, sites bounce back within a few weeks of implementing the fixes.

Possum Update

Release Date – September 1, 2016

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Affected Queries – Unknown till now
While the Penguin 4.0 algorithm affects websites, Possum is directed at improving the quality of local search results, found in the prestigious 3 pack and Local Finder. These search results are supported by Google Maps. It’s an effort to curb spam from ranking well and improving the quality of local results.

So if you’re a local business owner, here a few things that will change for you:

    1. Local search results will now depend heavily on the physical location of the searcher
    2. Businesses that are located outside the physical city area, but still service that area – will get the same importance as business located within the area.
    3. Duplication of addresses in listings of similar businesses will get demoted. So if your business shares the same physical address with a similar service provider, Google will filter out one of the listings.

Overall, it looks like Google is getting stricter about its quality control – be it a site, page or local business listing. This means that there is no room left for filler content or grey hat SEO practices. So pull up your socks and start understanding your audience – give them the content they’re interested in. You can start right here by acquiring custom made content through ‘Order Custom Article’ on your dashboard on dotWriter™.