Is it really Penguin 4.0? Few interesting facts.

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. 

Serp.Watch Fluctuation

Within the last few days, there is a lot of SERP fluctuation in all the countries as you can see on

SERP fluctuation

Other SERP fluctuation tools also reacted pretty crazy.


MozCast - Algo Temperature

MozCast is showing January 8th as 89 degrees (on a scale to 100 degrees). 


Algoroo stats

Algoroo also reported a really high SERP volatility level. 


AccuRanker SERP fluctuations

AccuRanker reported a "Cautious Google Grump" as well. 

AccuRanker Grump

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 

Daily winners and losers in USA
Fortunately, thanks to Serp.Watch we have some interesting data about this “winner”. was actually hit on Saturday to get back up Sunday.

Royalpharmacy stats

All rankings of disappeared for a day. 

After looking closer at, I’ve found few interesting metrics. Royal Pharmacy is mostly selling Viagra online.

RoyalPharmacy website

Also, it is relatively new in Google Rankings.

SearchMetrics visibility of

RoyalPharmacy visibility

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. 

RoyalPharmacy anchor cloud

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. 

SEO directories

Online Kamagra Jelly

Kamagra Jelly - more info

And many, many more. Simply filtering the backlinks by the word “directory” shows a lot of interesting results. 

Backlinks filter - results

Of course SEO directories aren’t the only sin of this website’s SEO team. 

Spammy comments

Spammy comments

After searching for “johnwilson111” & “” we can see many more comments. 

More spammy comments

This website fits Google Penguin pattern, but we would need many more to be sure that what we see is Penguin 4.0.

More examples

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. - stats - stats

sexylesbianpussy - stats - stats

Most probably this website was hit by a heavy pattern within their link profile. - stats

Penguin 4.0?

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.


Bartosz Góralewicz

Bartosz Góralewicz is the CEO at Elephate, an SEO agency that specializes in preventing and curing technical SEO issues for businesses of all sizes, including renowned international corporations. He is passionate about sharing his expertise and frequently publishes thorough case studies. In his off time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two young baby girls.

bartosz góralewicz