Are you prepared for Google's real-time Penguin algorithm?

| 23 Sep, 2016

Update (23rd September 2016): Google have confirmed that the real-time Penguin algorithm is now LIVE.

After months of speculation, the next big Google algorithm update is now running 'real-time', now part of Google's core algorithm. 

This means that the Penguin algorithm is updating in real time when it discovers newly built or removed links, meaning sites have the opportunity to recover from penalties much quicker, but also fall foul of penalties just as quickly.

What this means for website owners who have received a penalty

For anyone who has been hit with a manual or algorithmic penalty, you’ll understand the pain of submitting disavow files and removing unwanted links then waiting and waiting for the penalty to be lifted, sometimes up to 12 months after the clean-up has been done. The new Penguin update will mean that as soon as Google has crawled and identified links that have been removed, the penalty could be lifted straight away resulting in a faster recovery.

How do you know if you’ve been hit by a penalty?

If you’ve been hit by a penalty, you’ll notice a sudden and often significant drop in organic search traffic to your site combined with a loss in rankings for key search terms.

Often you’ll see a drop in rankings for your own brand name. Most famously hit was Interflora who disappeared from search results for their brand name following a Google penalty.

Even the most well-maintained sites will have a few questionable links in their backlink profile, and even without engaging in intentionally ‘spammy’ link building activity, this could leave sites open to incurring a penalty faster than they previously would have. To avoid this we recommend taking the following steps:

1. Undertake a thorough review of your backlink profile and remove all ‘bad’ links

2. Submit a disavow file for the rest

3. Consider your remaining links, are they of a high enough quality or do you need to build some higher quality links to your site or certain sections

4. Monitor your backlink profile closely to identify new links quickly and act promptly if needed

For a more detailed guide check out our step by step instructions for removing a Penguin penalty.

If you’d like to talk to us about reviewing your backlink profile or have concerns you might be at risk of a penalty, Jellyfish can help you by providing advise and support around this or any other SEO activity.

So what does all of this actually mean?

We recently held a live Twitter Chat (#JFTwitterChat) inviting users to ask their questions on the new algorithm update and how it would impact them and their websites. 

Lots of questions were  asked and answered. As we learn more about the way the real-time algorithm will impact websites, we’ll be able to broaden our understanding and recommendations.

Some of the highlights are featured below: 

What do I do if I suspect I’ve been the victim of negative SEO tactics?

Keep an eye on your site traffic and request regular crawls from Google until you start to see any improvements.


Penguin is now more granular. What does that mean?

Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.


In the future, how will I know if my site has been hit by penguin?

Look for a drop in traffic to key pages on your site. If you see a change that's unexplained you may have been hit.



Our agency says our bad backlink profile is fine because everyone else looks the same. Does this change with real-time?

The real time update doesn’t change the need to have a healthy backlink profile. We suggest you invest time in cleaning up your backlink profile.


How do I diagnose websites that have partial Penguin penalties?

Monitor and analyse your backlink profiles to detect unnatural links on a Subfolder and Subpage level. You will need to check certain parts of your website more often than others and manage the risks on a daily basis.


For a more detailed guide check out our step by step instructions for removing a Penguin Penalty or alternatively check out our Google Penalty Recovery Training course.

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