The third version of Google’s much-maligned Penguin algorithm was released back at the end of 2014. Since then, we have enjoyed relatively stable search results, at least where links are concerned. That all changed a few weeks ago, when the fourth version was released, shaking things up once more.
As a quick review, what actually is the Penguin algorithm? Penguin is a set of filters and changes to how Google ranks sites, based entirely on links. While we don’t think of penguins as predators in nature, Google’s version of the animal seeks out cases where links have been abused to rank a site higher than it deserves.
Before the first set of Penguin updates hit, links were either valuable or not. If a link you had pointing at your site was considered spammy by Google, they devalued it. It didn’t hurt your site beyond the loss of the value of that link, and it was easy enough to simply create a few more links to counteract that loss.
Penguin added a penalty on top of that. When a link was discovered and labeled spammy, Google would essentially make that link toxic to your site. Instead of simply being valueless, it would actively hurt your site until it was either remove…