Google announced recently, “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.” However, Penguin 4.0 has been anticipated for a while now, especially as there hasn’t been an official update for more than a year with the most recent being released in October 2014.
Whenever the new algorithm does appear, it’s certain to have a big impact on the way online marketers go about their business.
Penguin and links
Penguin introduced the idea of ‘toxic’ links, meaning that devalued links needed to be audited or removed and there is speculation that the new version of Penguin will focus on link value to an even greater degree, namely by making semantically related links more important than before.
A crowd sourcing program launched at Pubcon back in 2012 evolved into the Google disavow tool, which is one of the company’s main ways of sorting out the good links from the bad. Even so, good links are still being disavowed and although the majority will be spam it could be of great value to marketers if the next iteration of Penguin handles this task more selectively and effectively.
Semantic search has been a buzzword for some time and even figures highly in discussions about Artificial Intelligence and how it could be applied to online searches.
Essentially, the concept is that the search engine needs to more clearly understand the relationship between things, working in a way that is more ‘human’ and less machinelike, unlike at present where it simply sorts through strings of data like anchor text and meta tags.
In May 2012, Knowledge Graph represented the first steps in the integration of semantics. Hummingbird took things further forward in 2013 and recently RankBrain has been the state of the art example.
AI is all about ‘machine learning’ and is apparently now the third most important ranking factor, although that was only disclosed in October.
RankBrain could work within the next version of Penguin by aggregating all submitted disavow files and could then measure the topical relevance of a link. If an added ‘bonus value’ was to be introduced that worked alongside and PR even became more important than traditional ‘top of the page’ rankings, the entire way that search success is measured could be transformed.