By Cory Collins
23 Sep 2016

Penguin 4.0: Everything We Know So Far

Basic SEO     SEO Reporting     SEO Strategy

Google officially announced the update of the Penguin algorithm on Friday, September 23rd, nearly two years (707 days) after the last Penguin update.

Unofficially named Penguin 4.0, this iteration made Penguin part of the core search algorithm, updating in real time.

Here's what we know so far (this will be updated as we gain more information):

  • Penguin is now running in real-time, and is part of the core search algorithm (similar to Panda).
  • The release is in all languages and all countries.
  • This will be the last major update of Penguin. Now that it's part of the core algorithm, Google will no longer comment on data refreshes, although SEOs will likely be able to catch future data refreshes.
  • Penguin is more granular than site-wide, although it's not limited to pages. Penguin should have more flexibility in the past.
  • No changes or impacts have been reported yet by SEOs, although Dr. Pete believes it will be a matter of days, not weeks until we begin seeing Penguin impacts and recoveries.
  • There will be no announcements through Google Search Console for those impacted (Google only sends notification for manual actions).

I will be updating this post as we learn more, across the weekend.

I recommend keeping an eye on John Mueller's Twitter feed, along with Gary Illyes' Twitter feed. They're the primary Googlers answering Penguin-related questions, and much of it is happening on Twitter.

Updated News (learned since launch):

We've learned a few interesting pieces of information since Penguin 4.0 launched on Friday.

Here's the breakdown:

  1. The initial impact was nearly nonexistent. The rollout appears to be slow, but Dr. Pete is beginning to see the impact (through Mozcast), starting 9/27.
  2. Penguin no longer demotes websites, but instead devalues spam to pages. Effectively, Penguin no longer penalizes sites—only ignores spam and manipulative links. Read more here.
  3. The change from demotion to devaluation in this update means past Penguin demotions are beginning to be removed. On September 28th Gary Illyes said Penguin 3 demotions were beginning to be removed.

Recoveries and Case Studies

So far much of the reports are slow recoveries. Hopefully we'll begin to see more as time goes by and Penguin continues to run as Google crawls the web.

Marie Haynes has shared the most concrete information of anyone yet. See her Penguin recovery case studies of seven different sites here:

I will continue to update this section as more information is reported and shared.

Currently Google algorithm change monitors are reporting high fluctuations within Google's search results. It's a good guess that we'll continue to see recoveries and impacts as Penguin continues to roll out.

Keep an eye out with these tools:

Further Reading

Jennifer Slegg, Barry Schwartz, and Dr. Pete were all on the ball in reporting. I recommend reading each of their posts, along with the official announcement:


A few notable SEOs have speculated about the release of Penguin 4.0, and what it might mean:

Read Dr. Pete's full thread of 8 tweets here.

Dr. Pete shares that he's beginning to see a temperature spike at Mozcast on 9/27:

Have Further Information?

Share with the community! Either leave a comment here, in one of the mentioned comment threads above, or email me (Cory Collins) personally at

Good luck! The next week should be exciting.

Cory Collins

Cory Collins is the Business Development Manager at Page One Power and has been with the agency since 2012. Cory is an SEO strategist, writer, runner, and outdoor enthusiast residing in Boise, Idaho, with his wife, daughter, and (too) many pets.