And the chatter begins anew about “Google Penguin 4.0.” Since Christmas, marketers have been waiting to see site traffic fluctuations indicating an algorithm update. On Wednesday, they started reporting them on the WebmasterWorld.com forum.
- “Okay, I am fairly certain this is some Penguin flux,” writes masterjoe, “because I'm seeing movement on some pretty random keywords. It's been quite stable over the past week, only moving between one to two spots, max. But today there is fluctuation from No. 1 to No. 9.”
- “I have a small list of 10 distinct keywords for my site that I check when I wonder if a major update has occurred,” says J.S. Harris. “The bottom few results on Page One generally come and go, but the top spots stay immortal. They stay there, that is, until there is a major update. I'm only ever mildly surprised when I see a would-be contender for immortality disappear, but it's usually because they've become frustrated with 'almost-ranked' status (below the fold) and made major changes, which didn't help. [Nine out of 10] of the immortals have changed. In my opinion, this has been a major update (affecting roughly 1 percent of queries, no doubt). Penguin perhaps?”
- Other comments included tallies of traffic from hour to hour, as though there’s some A/B testing going on. (Low points, then blasts.)
Comments like these prompted this response from Barry Schwartz — CEO of RustyBrick, a West Nyack, N.Y.-based Web services firm — in his SEO Roundtable post on Wednesday: “I think we are on the verge of seeing Penguin 4.0 launch soon at Google — I think we are just about there. I know, I know, it's been a while. ... It can be nothing, it can be a blip, it can be a different algorithm or it can be people making stuff up — but it also can be Google testing Penguin 4.0 to a limited set of searchers.”
This talk seems to be unrelated to the expected mobile search algorithm update.
As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the belief that Penguin 4.0 was upon us wasn’t a widespread sentiment, and nothing changed in the usual meme GIFs Gary Illyes, Google’s standup trends analyst, used to reply to comments on his @methode Twitter account. (Illyes was the Googler who confirmed around Christmas that Penguin 4.0 was coming.)
— Gary Illyes (@methode) April 5, 2016
A commenter on the SEO Roundtable post said of course Google won’t make an announcement.
“Thanks to Murat Yataga[n],” writes The Truth of an ex-Googler-turned-SEO consultant, “we know that Google will not admit it has been released until it is perfect. Or 99 percent accurate.”
That didn’t stop others from continuing to speculate.
- “Something's afoot,” says Glenn D. Bearsky. “Two of my top-ranking Authority sites got creamed by Google in the last 48 hours. Both were sites that other people naturally linked to — so I'd ceased any heavy-handed link-building years ago. Worrisome. These were my two biggest Ca$h-Cow$ [sic] ([Amazon affiliate] sites.) Anybody have any good, cheap ramen noodle dinner ideas?”
- “There's certainly a lot of flux going on; we see this when comparing organic and paid,” writes Simon. “Organic is all over the place, paid isn't. But not sure what this is. Seems more like testing than anything else, as there's not much logic to it. Interesting that the flux trackers are showing nothing much, even ones like Algoroo that show up-to-date stats.”
Algoroo and MozCast showed no unusual activity on Wednesday. Oddly, MozCast showed a huge spike in “turbulence in the Google algorithm” on April Fools’ Day, when Gmail had a practical joke on its users fail spectacularly, but Algoroo showed no unusual activity for April 1.
What do you think of this, marketers? Is Penguin 4.0 happening?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Google’s Penguin Xmas SEO Gift