Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
It’s a fact that Google Penguin 4.0 is the most awaited Google update in history. With so much anticipation built up over recent years (Penguin 3.0 was disappointing for many), it is easy to misdiagnose what we see.
Before any diagnosis, let’s look at the data that caused all the recent Penguin 4.0 noise.
Within the last few days, there has been a lot of SERP fluctuation in many countries, as you can see on http://serp.watch.
Other SERP fluctuation tools also reacted pretty crazy.
MozCast was showing 89 degrees (on a scale to 100 degrees) on January 8th.
Algoroo also reported a really high SERP volatility level.
AccuRanker reported a “Cautious Google Grump” as well.
Is it Penguin?
Is it Penguin, though? Google Penguin is relatively easy to notice. It targets backlinks that don’t comply with Google Webmaster Guidel. Therefore, it should either decrease the ranking of a website or recover websites that were previously hit with Google Penguin.
Is Google testing out the new algo?
One of the top winners on Sunday, January 10th, was royalpharmacy.net.
Fortunately, thanks to Serp.Watch we have some interesting data about this “winner.” Royalpharmacy.net was actually hit on Saturday, only to get back up on Sunday.
All rankings of royalpharmacy.net disappeared for a day.
After looking closer at royalpharmacy.net, I’ve found a few interesting metrics. Royal Pharmacy mainly sells Viagra online.
Also, it is relatively new in Google Rankings.
SearchMetrics visibility of RoyalPharmacy.net
As you can see, this is probably a new website, but what makes it interesting for Google Penguin is its link profile.
Let’s start with a lot of exact match queries within the popular keywords.
Still, even giving this link profile the benefit of the doubt, a random backlink check shows a lot of links that are definitely part of the Penguin’s “diet.”
And many, many more. Simply filtering the backlinks by the word “directory” shows a lot of interesting results.
Of course, SEO directories aren’t the only sin of this website’s SEO team.
After searching for “johnwilson111” and “royalpharmacy.net,” we can see many more comments.
This website fits the Google Penguin pattern, but we would need many more to ensure that what we see is Penguin 4.0.
All of the websites mentioned above fit Google Penguin’s “diet.” Please keep in mind that some of the websites mentioned below come from the porn or loans niche, where spammy links are pretty common to this day. Therefore I cannot treat those drops as proof for the Penguin nature of this Google update.
Most probably, this website was hit by a heavy pattern within its link profile.
Looking at the data above, I think it is a little bit early to welcome Penguin 4.0. Many fluctuations fit the pattern of Google Penguin, but whatever we are seeing isn’t large enough to be a fully rolled out algorithm.
Many other Google actions could cause what we see above (e.g., Payday loan algorithm); therefore, I would give it a few more days or weeks until we welcome the brand new Penguin 4.0.
Update from January 12th, 2016
John Mueller confirmed it on Twitter that what we saw this weekend wasn’t Penguin 4.0 for sure.
It’s not penguin. Simple as that. Confirmed below. #PenguinUpdate pic.twitter.com/YzYV04xbF8
— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) 12 stycznia 2016