The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live

Editor’s note: We’re updating this post as we get more news and comments.

Big news in the world of search this morning. Google released a major update to its link analyzing algorithm, Penguin, today. This latest update is the long-anticipated upgrade that will help sites previously penalized by Penguin get out from under the SEO shadow of spammy paid links.

If you’re an SEO services or penalty assessment client of Bruce Clay, Inc., expect to hear from your analyst with a Penguin Update impact report ASAP.

The announcement was made by Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes this morning on the Google Webmaster Blog.

As the fourth significant enhancement since its initial launch in 2012, Penguin 4.0’s most noteworthy upgrades include:

  1. Real-time data refreshes as part of the core ranking algorithm and
  2. A more granular approach to the way it filters spam.

Bruce Clay, Inc.’s VP Duane Forrester‘s response to the Penguin update? “About time! But now the real work for many begins. Those working hard on managing their link profiles or cleaning up old link building programs have reason to be optimistic. Those thinking old tactics will still work are about to fall on hard times.”

What a Real-Time Update Means

“With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page,” writes Illyes.

With real-time data refreshes, Penguin becomes part of Google’s core algorithm, which “also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.”

We turned to Duane again for comment: “A real-time factoring of link quality into the mix means as soon as they see it, they decide. Everything is on the fly, so it’s the algo at work here, making the call on good, bad and ugly as it sees links. If you’re still thinking buying links works, you’d better be careful. Those days are behind us.”

What a Granular Filter Means

In his blog post, Illyes writes: “Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

SEO industry news outlet Search Engine Land requested further comment from Google on what “granular” means in this context.

Previously, Penguin was a sitewide penalty. So, does being “more granular” mean that it’s now page-specific? Yes and no, it seems. We asked Google for more clarity about this, and we were told: “It means it affects finer granularity than sites. It does not mean it only affects pages.”

More Answers on the Penguin Update

Illyes took to Twitter to answer SEOs’ questions about the latest Penguin update.

On how many pages are affected by the Penguin Update:

On whether the roll-out of Penguin is complete:

On how manual actions are now handled:

On the utility of disavowed links in the link pruning process:

SEO power tip: Visit for a free tool to check your disavowed links against more than a trillion other disavowed links.

Stay tuned as we learn more on how Penguin 4.0 is affecting our clients’ sites.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (10)
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10 Replies to “The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live”

After a couple of months since the update being launched I can confirm that big up and down have been seen on majority of sites, however, I haven’t seen any “realtime” update yet, most of the times it still takes time for G to update positions, it is faster, but not real-time, at least for my experience.

Thanks for the detailed information. I’m planning to start a news site and want to use penguin updates on my new sites.

Despite everything, I think this tool will be useful.

I read there was not only pinguin update during this september but a change was made too about “local” serps which now show business “close to” . And Google dont show anymore at the same time two business in the same industry with the same adress.

Virginia Nussey

I’ve read about it, too, Dijon. The Possum Update. Busy week at the engines!

After a long time, Finally it comes let’s see new changes

Virginia Nussey

Hear hear, Bhajan!


“About time! But now the real work for many begins. Those working hard on managing their link profiles or cleaning up old link building programs have reason to be optimistic. Those thinking old tactics will still work are about to fall on hard times.”

This is nothing but speculation. In fact, Penguin recovery remains nothing but speculation.

Virginia Nussey

Ryan, nothing but speculation? Google officially announced that Penguin that updates in real-time and targets themes or keywords at a granular level is here. How is that speculation?

It may happen that penguin update will much beneficial for quality SEOs.


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