Alfred Hitchcock once said that “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
The fact is that Google Penguin 4.0 is the most awaited Google update in the history and it with so much anticipation built up over last years (Penguin 3.0 was disappointing for many), it is easy to misdiagnose what we see.
Before any diagnosis, let’s have a look at the data that caused all the recent Penguin 4.0 noise.
Within the last few days, there is a lot of SERP fluctuation in all the countries as you can see on http://serp.watch.
Other SERP fluctuation tools also reacted pretty crazy.
MozCast is showing January 8th as 89 degrees (on a scale to 100 degrees).
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 fairly easy to notice. It targets backlinks outside Google Webmaster Guidelines, therefore it should either decrease 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.
All rankings of royalpharmacy.net disappeared for a day.
After looking closer at royalpharmacy.net, I’ve found few interesting metrics. Royal Pharmacy is mostly selling 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 popular keywords.
Still, even giving this link profile the benefit of the doubt, random backlink check shows a lot of links that definitely are within Penguin 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” & “royalpharmacy.net” we can see many more comments.
This website fits Google Penguin pattern, but we would need many more to be sure that what we see is Penguin 4.0.
All of the websites mentioned above fit Google Penguin “diet”. Please keep in mind though that some of the websites mentioned below come from porn or loans niche where spammy links are quite common to this day, therefore I cannot treat those drops as a proof for Penguin nature of this Google update.
Most probably this website was hit by a heavy pattern within their 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 see isn’t large enough to be a fully rolled out algorithm.
There are many other Google actions that could cause what we see above (e.g. Payday loan algorithm) therefore I would give it few more days or weeks until we welcome 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.