70 SEO Experts Reveal the 3 Best Penguin 4.0 Ranking Factors

Spread the love
  • 89

Penguin 4.0 update

Everyone is worried how the upcoming real time Google Penguin 4 update will change the SEO world. It’s totally understandable.

With so many ongoing changes in the SEO industry in bet you’re worried about the well-being of your sites and your online business.

Don’t panic, I got you covered! Just keep on reading.

It’s a well-known fact that when you have a specific problem the best option is to turn to the most reputable names in the industry and ask them for a professional advice. That’s exactly what I did.

I asked 70 distinguished SEO colleagues of mine one simple question:

“Which 3 SEO factors will play the biggest role in the Penguin 4.0 era?”

As a fellow SEO expert I am also eager to understand what the upcoming SEO updates hold for us, so without further ado, let’s dive into these 70 amazing answers.

Top Google Penguin ranking factors in 2016 (as voted by 74 SEO experts)

  1. Overall improvement of link quality
  2. Quality of content
  3. Real time features
  4. Technical aspects, architecture and design
  5. User experience

Obviously, this article is HUMONGOUS, so in order to make it more pleasant to read I created quick links and “show the full answer” buttons for your convenience.

All responses are listed in alphabetical order:

A.J. Ghergich, Andreas RamosAndrew GirdwoodAndrew MelchiorAndrew Shotland, Ashley FaulkesAtish RanjanAtiq Ur-Rehman

Barry AdamsBernadette ColemanBill SebaldBob Jones

Camilla SimonsenCarlo RodriguezCarter ColeCharlotte RileyChris Dyson

Dan PetrovicDavid SchneiderDavid Leonhardt

Eric Enge

Felix Tarcomnicu

Gareth BullGareth HoyleGary Evans

Harris Schachter

Ian Lurie, Ian Spencer

Jeremy HermannsJessie LiuJon TromansJonathan ChanJonathan FinegoldJordan KastelerJulie Joyce

Kevin IndigKristopher Jones

Lars Skjoldby

Maria JohnsenMarie HaynesMatt BeswickMatt PressMatthew BarbyMartin SmithMelanie Nathan, Michael KingMike GloverModestos SiotosMoosa Hemani

Nelly VinnikNina BaumannNyagoslav Zhekov

Patrick CoombePatrick Hathaway

Robin StrohmaierRoss JonesRyan Jones

Sanket PatelSamuel HurleySean McGinnisSeth RandShounak GupteSimon PensonStephen KenwrightSusan Dolan

Tadeusz SzewczykTim FelminghamTom Pick, Tripp Hamilton

Zac Johnson

AJ GhergichA.J. Ghergich @ ghergich.com


Faster penalty recovery, lots of newly penalized sites and more penalties for anchor text over optimization

1. The main factor that I think SEOs are looking forward to is that Google Penguin will be regularly updated. A lot of people have said it will be real-time – but I don’t expect that, at least not at first.
I assume the new Penguin search Algorithm will be using machine learning and engineers will be tweaking it as they go. This should allow for faster recovery for penalized sites.
2. I think the second factor will be how large the scope will become. Once Google Penguin is running and being refreshed consistently we are going to see a TON of people hit with penalties and loss of rankings. However, instead of waiting for a year for Google Penguin to refresh so they can recover, sites will be able to see how the next update views their link cleanup efforts. The feedback loop will be dramatically shorter.
3. The main reason you see sites run afoul of Google Penguin is that they use very keyword-rich anchor text and build links instead of earning them with valuable content. The new update should be very similar, but Google will probably start to look more at the neighborhood and content of the links you have versus so heavily weighing anchor text.
This is why I think a lot of new people will get caught by Google Penguin. With all the disavow data Google currently has, and with updated search algorithms, I think they will catch more link schemes that are less overt than just anchor text manipulation.

Andreas RamosAndreas Ramos @  andreas.com

Penguin update will be a minor issue

“This is a complex issue. Google Penguin updates are relatively minor adjustments to the selection factors. The real issue is the overall background and forward strategy at Google.

– The main tools of SEO (meta tags, keywords, links, etc.) aren’t very important for Google. When I do competitor analysis for clients (look at their competitors’ SEO strategy), generally, many of the top ranked have done no SEO work. Missing tags, etc. For a name, place, company, org, thing, etc., Google looks for “the official page” and if it finds that, that page becomes #1 forever. Nobody else can take the #1 position away from it (because it’s the official page).

– For topics that “nobody owns”, such as diabetes, hiking, semiconductors, etc., Google definitely ignores SEO work. It looks for the top ten best pages on that topic. These pages are informative and neutral. One of the criteria is links, but not by quantity. A hiking shoe company’s FAQ on blisters can have ten million links from cat pages, but that has zero value. Only 9s and 10s count now: if the page has links from *relevant* sites such as Stanford, Harvard, NYT, USDA, then it gets points. How does Google look for those pages and how do they decide? V complex issue.

This means the large majority of SEO experts aren’t really expert. They’re still using meta tags, keywords, links, etc., which Google pretty much abandoned in the late 2000s. But they keep doing this and clients don’t know any better. Nearly all the books, blogs, etc. about SEO are pointless because they don’t understand what Google is doing.

So that’s why Google Panda is a minor issue. If a company is doing well, which means it is aligned with Google’s strategy, then Google Panda will have no effect on it. It’s the companies that are trying to mess with Google that will get hammered, and rightly so.

My credentials? I was Head of Global SEO for Cisco (45 languages, 84 countries). Technical editor of Mike Moran’s book on SEO, published by IBM, which is the leading enterprise-level book on SEO. I teach this stuff at INSEEC, the French MBA school. I also give presentations every few weeks at incubators, accelerators, etc. in Silicon Valley. I manage global digital marketing for MIT and Harvard in 42 languages. And I’ve written twelve books on SEO and digital marketing.”

Andrew GirdwoodAndrew Girdwood @ blog.arhg.net

Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness are the future of  SEO

“The three biggest Penguin ranking factors will be:

  1. Expertise
  2. Authoritativeness
  3. Trustworthiness

Together these three factors are known by Google as E-A-T and they underpin every decision the search algorithm and human quality testers make when it comes to the question of “should that web page rank well?”

They are wrapper factors which can contain some, all or none of the quality signals Google looks at but in the post Penguin 4 world they’ll be extremely important. Google Penguin, in particular, points to Trustworthiness. Is there something about the page or site that suggests Google should be suspicious?

We know, Google has told us, Google Penguin 4 has a special focus on attempts to trick the search algorithm. The E-A-T model is important because it means signals (like links, citations, shares, etc) from pages with a poor E-A-T could contribute to your E-A-T. A few clashes won’t matter as all sites are subject to scraping and similar but sites that persistently form patterns of suspicion will lose Google’s trust.

In the Penguin 4.0 world you have to do everything you can to boost your trustworthiness and that’s a new approach to SEO for some practitioners. Once that’s done the battle for authoritativeness begins.”

Andrew MelchiorAndrew Melchior @  avalaunchmedia.com

Quality content and quality links will have the biggest impact for Google Penguin 4

“The simple answer, regarding Google Penguin 4, is quality of links, quality of links, quality of links 😉 However beyond that it becomes much more complex. Right now we are focusing on several considerations in our link building efforts including portfolio diversification, meaning we are looking to gain links for our clients from a variety of sources ranging in quality and extension type. We are also hyper-focused on content strategies that support link building efforts. We are confident that if we produce amazing content and utilize it in our outreach efforts, we can build high quality, diversified links for our clients.”

Andrew ShotlandAndrew Shotland @ localseoguide.com

Linking through RoundUps will change the face of SEO after Google Penguin 4

“1. Links from Expert RoundUp Posts
2. Links to Expert RoundUp Posts
3. RTs of Expert RoundUp Post links”

Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan @ techtricksworld.com

PBNs will die, anchor text will still matter and loading speed and mobile responsiveness will be essential

Google Penguin Algorithm is targeted to fight with the link spam. The earlier Google Penguin updates were on some certain dates and hit thousands of websites at once. But, Penguin 4.0 is something unique as this time Google is rolling out real-time Google penguin update. This update is bigger like Penguin 2.1 that was rolled out in 2013. Real time means, it doesn’t need to update it once in a while, but it will be a part of the core search algorithm.

So the thing is, now every day, in fact, every second, all the links will be inspected by the search algorithm, and if spam got found, sites would be getting hit by it.

Top 3 Penguin ranking factors should work are:

  1. PBNs will no longer work: PBN short for Private Blog Network is a network that is built by an SEO guys or bloggers to build links for their main money website. The idea has been working for years, and I have been reading a lot that PBNs are dead. But, in reality, they still work. But, Penguin 4.0 will kill it badly.
    So, if you are a website owner or blogger, and have backlinks from such PBNs then take action now. Try removing such links to stay safe.
  2. Anchor Text: It has been noticed that when you get a number of links using same anchor text for your website, your website’s authority increases for that particular anchor text. But, Google Penguin update discouraged this practice. However, I have noticed that things still work in many cases. But, I am sure that is not going to work after this big update so try avoiding getting links using rich anchor text.
    While getting links, try to use different anchor texts or preferably use naked links without any anchor texts.
  3. Loading Speed and Mobile Responsiveness: Though the link building practice will become tougher. Trying to make websites load fast, and mobile responsive can significantly help in boosting search rankings even in Penguin 4.0 era.
    Still Google Penguin 4 yet to come and these are just speculations what will work and what not. We can have clear picture once it is rolled out.

Ashley FaulkesAshley Faulkes @  madlemmings.com

Quality internal and external linking will be the most important aspects of SEO

“Google Penguin has been a scary monster for many an SEO and website owner for the last few years, and for good reason. Google normally releases the dreaded Google Penguin only periodically, which means if you get penalized, you have to wait until the next run to set things right in search.

Google is now set to make this part of the core search algorithm, which means we will see search indexing of new links (penguin related) in real-time. This will have some great side-effects for SEOs and marketers. It will mean you will quickly know what is working and what is not (whether you have been naughty or nice!). So this certainly makes our lives easier when it comes to SEO as we can react more quickly.

With a constant focus on links within Google’s core, it also means we have to pay more close attention to the nuances of links.

  • Ensuring we don’t over-focus on anchor text keywords.
  • Getting only quality links from external sources (contextual if possible, but of course a variety is always good).
  • And then there are the internal links, which are also powerful if used the right way – don’t forget about those.

So although I don’t believe the Google Penguin 4 update will have a huge impact in terms of how it works technically, it will have a positive and lasting effect on us all.”

Atiq Ur-RehmanAtiq Ur-Rehman @  ikozmik.com

Next Penguin update will have a great impact on link buying, exact match anchor texts and link quality

“As Google Penguin updates are about web spam, here are the three factors which I think will play the biggest role in update 4.0

Link buying: Although google has been able to track down PBNs and issued manual penalties but they have been unable to find a formula to know for sure if the link is bought, so with manual penalties issued last time I think they have been testing those websites to find a formula which can automatically find out if the link is bought.

Exact match anchor texts (internal): So far google has not considered much of internal website links to have a great effect negatively but this may have more effect in future.

Link quality: Right now a link is considered quality link, if the link is related and have authority but google may consider a third factor which is if the backlinks of that link are related or not.”

Barry AdamsBarry Adams @  polemicdigital.com

Dutchman in Northern Ireland. SEO polemicist, speaker & lecturer, humanist.
Founder of PolemicDigital, editor at StateofDigital.
Occasional breaker of Wheaton’s Law.

Google Penguin 4 will take care of bad links, lack of quality signals and over-optimised anchor texts

“In my experience, sites that are Penguinated suffer from the following issues:

  1. Over-optimised anchor texts on one or more keywords;
  2. A relatively large number of questionable links that aren’t ‘hard’ spam but are nonetheless low quality;
  3. Lack of quality signals such as well-written content, high quality links and citations, and a strong overall brand presence on the web.

So when websites suffer from all three of these factors, I consider them at an elevated risk of getting caught in a Google Penguin filter. Having said that, a Google Penguin refresh is low on Google’s list of priorities at the moment, and I don’t expect the highly anticipated refresh to make much of a difference to most websites.”

Bernadette ColemanBernadette Coleman @  adviceinteractive.com

Mobile optimization, mobile apps and social content will rule after the next Penguin update

“Google Penguin 4.0 is said to be a “Real-Time” update to the search algorithm. What does the real-time mean for site owners? It means that it will always be on and it will always be updating. This is good and bad. Good for those website owners that follow the rules, and bad for those website owners that still use spammy tactics. In fact, black-hat tactics will be identified sooner rather than later and it will be much more difficult for spammers to be successful. We like this.

The following Google Penguin ranking factors will be important for any small business.

1. Stop thinking just local, think local and mobile. Mobile optimization will become the holy grail for small businesses that embrace it. Starting now, and continuing into 2016, the mobile shift will continue and will far outweigh desktop search making mobile traffic the more important, with desktop fading away in the years to come. It’s time for businesses to commit to engaging “mobile” experiences for their audience across all types of devices.

2. Social content will become extremely important. In 2016, social content will become more important and more readily indexed. Social content will be as valuable as independent news pages on search engines and become a powerful tool for SEO purposes.

3. Mobile Apps will rule. We know that Google has been indexing apps for quite a while now as part of it’s mobile shift. As a matter of fact there may even be a possibility of some apps taking over websites as a preference. That being said, a deep linking app strategy should be part of your 2016 strategy for SEO.”

Bill SebaldBill Sebald @ greenlaneseo.com

Google’s Penguin 4.0 will provide more accuracy

“I don’t expect Google would change the factors in upcoming Google Penguin 4 implementations. I would suspect by now they have a great sense of what they should be measuring in terms of footprints and relevancy.  However, I would expect they just get better at actually measuring with more accuracy.  Perhaps machine learning plays a (larger?) role, possibly more semantic search / topical relevance, and just better identification of “over-optimization” tactics.”

Bob JonesBob Jones @ visible.com.au 

The upcoming Google Penguin won’t change the game

“I’m not sure how to answer the question as Google Penguin has one factor and that’s looking at the quality and relevance of incoming links.

Same advice applies as it always has; don’t try to take shortcuts and obtain high volume, low quality links. They’ll give a website a temporary boost but once a new update rolls out all your link building efforts will have been for nothing.

Also, people should stop worrying about Google Penguin articles and just do their best work on their websites :)”

Camilla SimonsenCamilla Simonsen @  tekstsprutten.dk

Page speed, microdata and mobile friendly design will be the key

“Apart from key factors such as a great CMS, logical structure, long well written and relevant quality content (text, images, videos, sounds, animations) with carefully chosen keywords that are implemented the right places e.g. keyword in title tag, I think the top three factors that will have the biggest importance after the Google Penguin 4.0 is launched – or in 2016 – are:

    1. PAGE SPEED: Reduce the load speed to less than 1 sec, because very few bother to wait for a result.
    2. MOBILE: Your site must have a mobile version or a responsive design, so many already did the job, now people expect it and leave quickly if it gets too annoying.
    3. MICRODATA: Use microdata (rich snippets/structured data) that supports an already well written title tag and an appealing description.”

Carlo RodriguezCarlo Rodriguez @ attachmedia.com

Link building is now Digital PR

“For me all resume to One factor: Value Content, before Google Penguin a large group of SEOs use low value tactics (Directories, Spam Comments, etc) to gain links, and the tactics worked!

Now is more difficult, low value tactics probably harm your SEO, and it’s fine. The high value era is here! Now the business have to create great content to persuade Blogs and News Sites to give a link.

Link building is now Digital PR, where to be successful have to do a good research, create great content, establish a relationship with journalists and bloggers and all the stuff that a PR Agency do.”

Carter ColeCarter Cole @  cartercole.com

Artificial Intelligence is becoming more important with Google Penguin 4

“Google Panda’s big thing was figuring out how to scale machine learning algorithms to larger and larger datasets, it was a great success and I think AI will continue to lead their development of new search algorithms.

RankBrain is an update to hummingbird which uses vectorized representations of queries to leverage the knowledge graph so sites that are related to a query but don’t contain the search term may become more common in results. Some have suggested that because its a “real time” search algorithm that you will see your SEO results sooner and watching that SERPs will move faster I don’t agree, you may fail faster or see your cheating penalized earlier on but your hard work will grind on slowly as usual.

I think we will be able to understand this update a lot better as we see who the winners and losers are.”

Charlotte RileyCharlotte Riley @ acriley.com

Properly optimized content, positive user experience and increased website quality and trust will be crucial

“I think the only thing we can count on in SEO is that Google will change its Penguin search algorithm on a regular basis to try to achieve the best search results and experience for the user.

Today, companies need to be more holistic in their approach to SEO. Strong, valuable —and properly optimized— content will always be critical. We’ll be seeing more thoughtful, long-form content; content that people will want to link to or share on social media. With the rise of voice commands and mobile usage, factors like user intent, natural language long-tail keyword phrases and mobile friendly websites will be key. Quality and trust are the watchwords for 2016. “

Chris DysonChris Dyson @ tripleseo.com

We will have to focus on things that provide real ROI

“To speculate on something from Google before we actually see it is a waste of time. This is a data backed profession not homeopathy.

For example look at all those clowns who posted that Google Penguin 4 rolled out a few weeks ago when it had not.

Of course in previous instances of Google Penguin links from low quality sites & over optimised anchors were common patterns so it’s worth making sure you are monitoring those but Google has so much data on how websites link naturally & unnaturally that we will be better off focusing our efforts on doing the things that provide real ROI than some soothsayer antics.”

Dejan PetrovicDejan Petrovic @ dejanseo.com.au

Follow-up updates will be much more interesting than Google Penguin 4.0

“I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but the next Google Penguin update will do precisely nothing to shake things up in an interesting way. We’re looking at Google rolling out a different way to evaluate link spam. This is not a bad thing. I suspect the search algorithm layer in charge of link schemes and link quality will be a lot more AI driven than before. While it may appear dumb at the start, I predict it will learn quickly and scale its ability like nothing we’ve seen before. I’d be more excited about the follow-up updates and tweaks Google’s team makes once the machine learning has taken place and warmed things up.”

David SchneiderDavid Schneider @ ninjaoutreach.com

User experience, mobile and content will play a major role in the post Penguin world


You don’t often see bloggers and business websites discussing proper UIUX on account of it is generally reserved for topics centered around software applications – but consider that user experience is important everywhere and only getting more important by the day. People expect to find what they want, fast, and the current structure of most websites is not built to deliver that (think about how often you content is completely buried and difficult to find – imagine what it would be like to arrive on your website for the first time. I believe bloggers are going to gravitate more towards their analytics to really understand how to optimize their UIUX.


The number of people who access the web on their mobile phones is growing rapidly, but many bloggers don’t optimize their sites properly for mobile. While it’s true we are seeing the beginnings of more mobile centric themes and designs, it is still not ubiquitous, but I think it will eventually become necessary.


Last but not least is a content strategy that is centered around providing relevant, comprehensive content on a niche topic. This is what got people into trouble the first time around (the lack of a content strategy, that is), but people seem to be getting the message nowadays.

David LeonhardtDavid Leonhardt @ seo-writer.com

Old fashioned PR and simple usability will be killer tactics

“To me, good old fashioned PR is the ultimate SEO killer tactic. If you get talked about, people will link to you, people will plaster you all over social media, and the search engines will notice. Think offline. Think PR in its most basic definition. Then work in an online component as a way of amplifying your offline efforts.

The other killer tactic is equally basic. Simple usability, so the people and search engines can see what your pages are about, can navigate them easily and can get the pages to load quickly. Good ol’ fashioned, basic SEO.

That’s it; no third tactic. Do those two, and you can’t lose (unless your competitors are all paying attention, of course).”

Eric EngeEric Enge @  stonetemple.com

Websites will have to improve visibility, reputation and overall quality to please Penguin 4.0

“To be honest, Google hasn’t provided a lot of insight into their plans. However, one thing is clear, and that is that they want to make something that updates more regularly, and it they do that, this will be progress enough. I wrote a post about this back in July 2014 (Penguin: Google’s Punitive Algorithm – And A Call To Google To Fix It) asking Google to fix the problem of such irregular updates.

This was supposedly fixed back in December 2014, when Google suggested they were moving to continuous updates, but Google is now talking about this new update as being more real-time. That would be awesome if they indeed do that!

So what’s the lesson that Google Penguin teaches us? Basically, that Google is deadly serious about protecting the quality of their product, and smart publishers will look past link schemes and build programs to attract high quality editorially given links to their web sites. So here are 3 things to think about:

1. Focus on reputation and visibility first, and treat the links you get as a highly desirable side effect. If you do this well, you significantly increase your chances of attracting the highest quality links.

2. Think about quality over quantity. Remember that one link can be worth 1M times more than another (easily), so putting more effort into high quality links make the most sense.

3. Build column relationships with the highest authority sites if you can. I know, conventional SEO wisdom is that getting links from the maximum number of different domains is paramount, but that thinking is way out of date. Consider this: if I tell you I published an article on a topic in the NY Times you would be pretty impressed. Now, think about how impressed would you be if I told you they asked me to write a column there? Of course, the latter impresses you more, and Google understands that this is how users think.

These guidelines can help keep you out of trouble, and help you get more out of your SEO investments. Good luck with your efforts!”

Felix TarcomnicuFelix Tarcomnicu @ monitorbacklinks.com

Quality of links, authority and relevancy of backlinks and content

Google Penguin will now be part of the real-time Google search algorithm, meaning that those that got a penalty can recover quicker. On the other hand, all sites will be more vulnerable of getting a Google Penguin penalty. As most SEOs know, backlinks have been and will continue to be the main ranking factor in Google, at least for the coming years.

After the release of Google Penguin 4, marketers will have to pay more attention to their backlinks. Instead of checking them every few months, this will have to be an on-going task. Also, it’s important to analyze all your site’s backlinks and make sure you’ll only keep the good ones. I wrote a guide talking about identifying bad links for SEO, here: https://blog.monitorbacklinks.com/seo/ultimate-guide-find-bad-good-backlinks/

I don’t think the biggest SEO factors will change much after the Penguin 4.0 release.

Nonetheless, the three most important Google Penguin ranking factors are:

1. Quality of links
2. Authority and relevancy of backlinks
3. Content

Gareth BullGareth Bull @ emailoctopus.com

It will be super hard to target even keyword rich contextual links

“OK, Penguin 4. We all know Google Penguin targets low quality contextual links.

I can’t physically see what Google can do apart from tweak a few things with 4.0

In my opinion it’s going to be super hard to target even keyword rich links that are contextual. The web is built on these links and it’s a natural way of linking.

I see this more of an update of the algo personally but nothing surprises me with Google. I could be very wrong!

Gareth HoyleGareth Hoyle @ marketingsignals.com

Keep your link profiles up to date constantly to be safe after Penguin 4

“When Google Penguin becomes baked into the main algo and/or becomes realtime, keeping up to date on who is linking to your site will become even more important. Not just one off audits, but constant reviews and updates to your disavow file as you never know when the drop could come!

From what I have been seeing, a few people seem to have forgotten about the pain of Penguin 1.0 and are reverting back to using network style links and blatant anchors. I think these SEO’s will be the most upset when the update comes.

If they make penguin realtime, does the disavow system get an upgrade? It needs it!”

Gary EvansGary Evans @  yourweb.ie

Rise of real-time updates and demise of PBN’s

“A great question and something that is still causing quite a lot of confusion around the internet. Has it already started? Is Google Penguin 4.0 already here? What to expect when Penguin 4.0 hits… Lots of chatter but nothing really solid yet. There are plenty of warning signs and some very high temperature fluctuations on the various ALGO monitors like Algaroo and Serpwatch etc. If I was to state what 3 factors that I feel will be affected by Google Penguin 4 they are as follows:

Split Testing Spammy tactics…

If the 4.0 update is real-time then it becomes much easier to test dodgy tactics because you could technically set up a few links and see what happens. If it works and you get away with it then rinse and repeat. If your site takes a hit then just remove them and try the next tactic. If its in real-time then surely recover will be much quicker instead of the ’traditional’ repair the damage and wait till the next update. Will this update not actually do the opposite of what its supposed to do then? For example right now over optimisation of anchor text is having a very positive impact on search results. This will no doubt change as things settle down but for now its working in your favour.

Realtime updates

Google Penguin 4 is expected to be real-time, so technically once Google discovers any links into your site it will take effect. Good links will be rewarded but obviously bad links will have a negative impact on your positioning. If you play by the rules you will hopefully be rewarded, but if the Algo is actually in real-time there may be a potential problem if somebody decides to push bad links to your site. Now Google are quite good at identifying spammy links to your site and more often than not choose to ignore them, but this still poses a big real-time risk in terms of negative SEO.

PBNs are dead – long live PBNs.

After the last storm around PBNs and long term marketers stating they will never use them again, it will be interesting to see if 4.0 actually has any more of an impact on this. Links are still the most effective way to rank your site followed by decent shareable content that actually helps your readers. Just look at the SERPS for any competitive terms and you will see sites featuring that absolutely use PBNs to rank. SEOs have become a lot smarter on masking these services, but if I can find the sites easily then one would have to imagine that Google already knows about them.

If Google Penguin 4 addresses this issue then it will be great for SEO’s that play by the rules but if not then couldn’t you just continue building PBNs and rank all day long.
The downside of this update working is you could use a PBN and point it at your competition and wipe then off the face of Google and then rank your own site instead.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out…”

Harris SchachterHarris Schachter @ optimizepri.me

Punishment for poor links, relationships as links and coalescence of Google technology

“Excellent question! I’d be happy to contribute. Here is my answer to Which 3 SEO factors will play the biggest role in the Penguin 4.0 era:

First of all, I think a Google Penguin refresh is definitely in order. As with all search algorithms, they need some time to settle in, sometimes swinging wildly in one direction at first. For Google Penguin, I think that direction was punishment for poor links. I am willing to bet that the next refresh puts more balance in order and we see a slight shift back to bad links not meaning anything, rather than bad links counting against you.

Second, the next Google Penguin refresh might start to consider relationships as links, not just outright ahrefs. Specifically, brand mentions, co-citations, and even URLs spelled out (but not linked) could all start to have the same effect as links, without actually being links. I think the semantic technology is getting to the point where context and meaning can count significantly in building authority.

Finally, I expect there to be some coalescence of Google technology into an indistinguishable amalgamation of knowledge graph, contextual searching and semantic search, depth of content (panda) and everything else. At some point you put together car parts until eventually you have a car. The same goes with Google search algorithms- it will be harder to distinguish the individual updates and instead just be. The best thing to do is as always- make sure your technical SEO is tight and do what is best for your users, the content they want to consume and the experience you serve up.”

Ian LurieIan Lurie @  portent.com

Emphasis on semantic relevance of link text while preventing link and PBN manipulation

Semantic relevance of link text, as well as the text around the link, is going to matter even more;

  1. Any use, at all, of private blog networks and other schemes that may have slipped past previous Google Penguin updates may get you into trouble;
  2. Link velocity: Sudden spikes in link growth will get you into even more trouble now (assuming Google Penguin 4.0 will be a real-time update).

Ian SpencerIan Spencer @ isdigitalmarketing.co.uk

Even though Penguin 4 is looking like a big update, the fundamentals of what it does will stay the same.

1) Responsive website. Although we did not see the huge drops that the massive fear mongering of ” mobilegeddon ” suggested, I think that over the next year or so non mobile friendly sites are going to really slip, so this is a huge impact of the next SEO era, but not really linked to Google Penguin.

2) Link building patterns. As the Google Penguin update becomes almost real time, I think it will continue to evolve and understand even further link building patterns, probably causing more triggered penalties as time goes on. I have a feeling this update will be very harsh and more intelligent, and that although it will be quicker to recover, there will be far more issued on an ongoing basis. But, the jist is still the same, build crap links, get penalised, and quite rightly so.

3) Quality signals. As some other experts have mentioned, I think the quality signals of authority links, social signals and just proving authority is going to be massively important over the next year, with Google looking deeper at how to judge quality based on a range of factors. Therefore, it’s even more important to right amazing content and build a following of this content, to establish yourself within the market you cover.

Jeremy HermannsJeremy Hermannsjeremyhermanns.org

Responsive web design, relevancy and site architecture will be the priority

“The Top Three Factors we would stress for any SEO:

  1. Site Architecture: (speed, clean taxonomy, clear strength of on-page factors: T&D’s etc)
  2. Relevancy: (the site must have KW’s that we want to rank for!)…we tend to focus on what works in PPC and what KW’s have high engagement
  3. Mobile First / Responsive Web Design: This also works in conjunction with the site architecture ‘cleanliness’, but as Mobile takes over as the dominant medium/platform of website consumption we are looking to enhance the user experience and get the content in their hands (no pun intended).”

Jessie LiuJessie Liu @ siteber.com

Quality content, more user engagement and better user experience are ahead of us

“SEO landscape has changed a lot in the past years. It used to be more focus on singular keywords and page optimization. Today, the focus has shifted to a much broader user engagement with a particular brand, product and service. Other things like quality content creation and social media marketing have become more and more important for SEO.

User engagement and experience such as click through rate, bounce rate, time on site will contribute significantly to SEO as well. Ever since Panda, Google has been trying to surface not just quality content, but high quality websites with great user experience. Just in the past year, Google has declared both HTTPS (security) and mobile-friendly as ranking signals. I believe more will come. “

Jon TromansJon Tromans @  jtid.co.uk

Generating backlinks through offline activities after Google Penguin 4

“Rumour has it the next Google Penguin update is coming soon, exactly when we don’t know but it’s important to be prepared. The rumour mill also thinks that the next update will mean that Google Penguin 4 will be running on a continual basis which is good news if you have been affected, or are penalised in the future. Hopefully fixing any bad links will lead to a quicker recovery.

My general advice on links is always to look at things holistically and make sure you generate backlinks as a by-product of your normal marketing activities. You could run campaigns offline that get people talking about you online and linking to your website. These types of holistic campaigns will usually bring in direct sales, branding and links.”

Jonathan ChanJonathan Chan @ iprospect.com

SEO Project & Community Manager at iProspectFR.
I love startups.

Link positioning, context and branding will reign supreme

“Link Context : Google Penguin will give more credit for the links depending on the context and his position on the page. According Zineb Ait Bahajji, a webmaster trend analyst at Google in this tweet, she admits that the links in the footer and in the sidebar have little effect in the ranking of Google.

So we need to focus on the links in the body text and we have to care about the relevance of the link anchor for the users that have to be clicked.

Branding link : I think Google Penguin will also give more importance for the page authority in order to classify the links. The strategy is to produce high quality content and work your branding to attract natural links. A study of Backlinko shows that a website’s overall authority had a stronger correlation to rankings.”

Jonathan FinegoldJonathan Finegold @  nowmediagroup.tv

Well-targeted content, strong link profile and positive user experience are future of SEO

“I suspect that SEO will stay on the path it’s been on. This includes well-searched and well-targeted content with concrete, strategic purpose. A strong natural backlink profile, with both a diverse set of root domains and link-depth with particularly strong domains, will be important as well.

But, this comes back to content and the goals that you want each piece of content to accomplish — I know that for a lot of small businesses link worthy content is not the same as the bread and butter content, so you need to plan your content distribution around the website’s different needs. Finally, it is and will continue to be important to optimize the website for user experience, including responsiveness, speed, and content accessibility.”

Jordan KastelerJordan Kasteler @  mwi.com

User intent, brand marketing and clicks on links will be the most important aspects

“1. User intent (i.e. fulfilling user needs on landing pages). This is about fulfilling a user’s need to fight against negative engagement (e.g. bounce/time);

2. Brand marketing (e.g. press mentions);

3. Clicks on links (e.g. Reasonable Surfer patent).”

Julie JoyceJulie Joyce @ linkfishmedia.com

Site quality and engagement signals will be important while over-optimization will lose its effect

“I think that the main factor for the Google Penguin 4.0 era will be site quality. People don’t want to link to a crap site and if you see a really awful site that has lots of links coming in, it looks pretty manipulated.

Secondly, I think (or maybe hope!) that engagement signals will become more important. If you’re publishing a blog post every day and no one has commented or socialized anything in an entire year, to me that is a sign that your content isn’t that wonderful. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine Google making that determination either.

Lastly, I think that obvious over optimization won’t work as well as it used to. People are still keyword stuffing and spamming everything else and it works, but I think Google will soon be better able to recognize this and not reward those practices.”

Kevin IndigKevin Indig @ dailymotion.com

Penguin 4 update will bring quality, relevance and ratio on a page level

“It’s of course unpredictable for us to indicate what factors Google will use and tweak in the fourth iteration of the Google Penguin algorithm. What we know is that Google wants to prevent websites benefitting from manipulative link building, caused by spammy and paid backlinks. Naturally the fourth installment will most likely be an extension of the direction the search algorithm went in the past, so let’s look at how it changed over time:

Google Penguin 1
Punishes links
– from low quality sites
– from irrelevant sites
– with keyword-rich anchor texts
– with overly-optimized anchor texts
Back then Penguin algorithm only looked at homepages.

Google Penguin 2
On top of the previously mentioned factors, the second iteration also punishes links
– that were massively built in directories
– link spam (hello Xrumer)
– comment spam for backlinks
This time the search algorithm acts on a page basis.

Google Penguin 3
Just a refresh, no new signals added

Google Penguin 4 (?)
The foundations of Penguin won’t change with the next update and I personally see no need to come up with new factors, just a refinement of the existing ones.

Therefore, this is what I’d conclude as answer:
The three most important ranking factors for Penguin 4 will be: quality, relevancy and ratio on a page level. What do I mean by this?
Quality is determined by the authority of the linking source. Do I get a reference from the New York Times or Joe Schmo’s blog with one article?
Relevancy is seen in a topical context: How close to the topic of my site is the site that’s linking to mine? Finally,
Ratio is important because it indicates how “natural” a link profile is. This has to depend on the niche / industry / topic of the website. 100% dofollow links and 0% nofollow links – probably not a good idea. 80% hard anchor text links and 20% brand links – probably even worse.”

Kristopher JonesKristopher Jones @ lseo.com

Next Penguin update will deal with semantically related links, unnatural internal links and links from penguinized sites

“Semantically Related Links – as Google becomes better at detecting anchor text spam it is becoming increasing sophisticated at looking at the relationships between keywords. If your site doesn’t have diverse anchor links, especially to pages that you may have “over optimized” onsite or offsite with anchor text, you might get tripped up in Google Penguin 4.0.

Unnatural Internal Links – Building an internal linking structure based on real-time ranking reports is one of my favorite advanced SEO strategies. However, I am slightly worried that Google is becoming increasing sophisticated at detecting artificial or over optimized internal links. That said – I’m thinking through ways to make internal linking structures as natural and logical as possible. For instance, I continue to love the idea of “related” searches (think Amazon and Google Suggest).

Links from Penguin-ized Sites – As Google Penguin continues to expand and evolve it appears that links from low domain authority websites hurt more than they help. Here’s a good guide on increasing domain authority. Links from low quality sites that are ALSO in a Penguin Penalty (they’ve been Penguin-ized) are especially bad and should be disavowed. If you don’t disavow them now Google Penguin 4.0 might put you in the penalty box as well.”

Lars SkjoldbyLars Skjoldby @ skjoldby.com

PBNs will be taken care of, real time possibilities and brand mentions will be important

“The biggest SEO factors changing post Penguin 4.0 will be more strategically. Google and our friend Penguin’s job is still to find and hit low quality links.

In Denmark most penguin-hit websites have been using international private blog networks (PBN), links farms and other non-Danish low quality sites. Google and pre Penguin updates haven’t really hit the Danish PBNs. These still work quite well here.

I hope, and expect, that Penguin 4.0 will be able to unravel PBNs in languages that fewer people speak, than English, Spanish, German and other large languages. This will force businesses and SEO marketers to think of link building differently, and not like: “X links for X Danish kroner” or whatever currency you’ve got.

Google Penguin 4.0 is supposed to be real time. In theory, this will allow great marketers to get better results, than the ones who are trying to manipulate the search algorithm with quick and dirty links.

Last, but not least, I expect that businesses (and SEO agencies) will treat brand mentions as success criteria at the same level as links.”

Maria JohnsenMaria Johnsen @  maria-johnsen.com

Google Penguin will eliminate negative link practices and affect websites with bad on page optimization

“Google Penguin detects spammy links therefore doorway pages have no value and won’t be source of income for those who run adsense on their sites. When Google devalues them, getting traffic to those pages won’t be easy. Because the content of a site should trigger users’ emotional response so that they find your ads interesting to click at them. Doorway pages lack of quality.

Back to link building and spam. I don’t recommend buying high PR links. Here is why: Google Penguin search algorithm is designed with artificial intelligence and Googlers encode it on daily basis.In theory everybody talks about 200 google ranking factors. This is not true. There are more than 400 Google ranking factors while Yandex search engine has more than 700 ranking factors. Both Google and Yandex have become more sophisticated than before. So if anybody is engaged in link buying scheme, sooner or later you get caught.

Use natural link building process if you run a serious business and intend to sell products and services online. Because when you stop link buying, your page gets outranked. It is like using Google Adwords, you pay a lot of money and your ads are performing well ( if they are managed and optimized correctly). When you stop paying your site won’t appear on Google’s sponsor ads networks either. So if you want to buy links, one day you have to stop because you reached your goal, but you will lose ranking.

Let me explain further. If you buy links for duration of 6 months so they get indexed, your site’s value increases, when you remove them with the next Google update, your site gets devalued cause your purchased high PR links are not there either. Thus use your sources to build quality and natural links by adding quality content to your site and drive in prospects to your site.

I recommend adding more fresh content and implementing social media marketing to your campaigns on daily basis. Hire experts to do it for you if you don’t have time to do it on your own. Social media marketing is one of the most important ingredients in ranking and driving in sales.

Another important factor which many SEOs and businesses overlook is that webmasters forget to optimize correctly their coding and on page programming issues. I have been working on many multilingual SEO projects worldwide and have noticed that the majority of businesses don’t pay attention to this part of their campaigns. When we talk about on page optimization we don’t mean just adding meta tags and sitemap to the site. We mean everything from fixing the structured data to server performance, fetch as Google bots and the whole nine yards.

Don’t just use Google webmasters tools for getting data and information about source of traffic to your websites and back links, fix your structured data as this is the important part of ranking. Structured data is one of the important algorithmic factors which Google crawlers and bots look at. If your websites have programming issues, check on Google webmaster tools and fix them because there is a direct correlation between inbound and outbound links. If your websites are not fully optimized, you are in trouble. So only focusing on your back link building is not enough, you have to fix your programming issues as well.

These are more details but here are the most important factors you need to know for now.”

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes @  mariehaynes.com

This Penguin update will have milder effect than the previous ones, it may or may not be real time and it will punish unnatural link building

“There is still a lot that we don’t know about Google Penguin, so I think it’s very important to note that everything that we say here is speculation. With that in mind, here is what I anticipate will happen with the new Penguin 4 update:

1. The update may or may not be real time. Google has told us that this likely will be the case, but it’s certainly possible that the next update will be pushed out manually and then, as the results are assessed, will slowly be eased into the search algorithm. When I spoke with Gary Illyes at Pubcon last year, I asked him whether there would be a lag in how Penguin 4 assesses sites. In other words, if Google Penguin was now running real-time and I disavow links now, will Penguin algorithm assess those disavowed links in real time or will they enforce some kind of a lag whereby my changes don’t take effect for several months? I thought this might be the case to stop spammers from cheating the system. But, he said that no, there would not be a lag. That should be interesting.

2. Penguin 4 will not be as punitive. When the first Google Penguin rolled out in 2012, it had a devastating effect on many websites because they had been building spammy links like crazy with no negative effects. Now, we’re less likely to see a site crash from #1 to oblivion because it’s much harder to get a site to #1 with spammy links.

3. Penguin 4 algorithm will be better at finding SEO made links. I could be wrong on this, but I feel that the newer version of Google Penguin will not just target overtly spammy links but will also be able to detect whether sites have links that on the surface look decent but overall are really part of a large link scheme. For example, I think that we will see links from private blog networks and from widespread guest posting devalued. The current version of Google Penguin is not too good at doing this.

It will be interested to see what happens once Google Penguin does finally update. Hopefully that will happen soon!”

Martin SmithMartin Smith @ curagami.com

Creation of interactive, internet communities in the post Penguin 4 world

“In a post-Pengin, Hummingbird, Panda and RankBrain world YOU MUST CREATE COMMUNITY. Listening more than you talk is a great idea. Even more broadly understanding no content is ever “old” is key. Google’s QDF (Quality Deserves Freshness) becomes CRITICAL in a mobile world. Quality content in a mobile world is never old because the best content evolves over TIME.

Your team, website, and company will get it and so be IN THE GAME or not. Google won’t lack for beloved websites, the BIG, to make bigger.

You, and we know how hard this will be for most Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) to hear, CAN NOT SOLVE your content / traffic problem. Collaborate with your customers, listen and curate their ideas, comments and engagement to earn LOVE and you won’t have to worry about Search Engine Optimization ever again.”

Matt BeswickMatt Beswick @ mattbeswick.co.uk

Brand, content and promotion will be the key after Penguin 4 update

“I don’t think things will change much with Google Penguin 4.0 – it’s just a continuation of what we’ve seen over the last few years, and things now come down to 3 main things – brand, content, and promotion. Instead of “building links” we need to be thinking about building an online brand and making sure that it’s promoted in the right places. A lot of people forget that building links in directories, or posting guest blogs, is totally fine – it’s just the reasoning behind getting those placements that has changed over the last few years. If you’re still building links just for rankings you’re doing it wrong, and Google Penguin 4 (just like the other versions) has a good chance of kicking you down.”

Matt PressMatt Press @ splashcopywriters.co.uk

Good UX, fresh quality content and authenticity are the key factors

“For Google Penguin 4.0, I think that the optimal approach should always be structured around common sense.

That is to say, if you have a lack of technical SEO knowledge, you’re best off sticking to Google’s principles of creating valuable content for your audience. It’s their job to match up the best and most suitable content for each search, not yours.

Just aim for the top in an ethical way – that’s always going to be a good idea.

If I were to specifically call out 3 things, they would be:

1. Providing a good user experience.

Back in November I asked 31 SEO experts for their predictions for the coming year. Having a website that gave visitors a great experience was by far the most common answer.

And this fits with my overriding point about having an SEO strategy based on common sense. Google will always want to show up the best search results. So if you have a website with the best UX, you’re increasing your chances of ranking highly.

2. Consistently creating quality content.

People know all about content marketing now, but while it’s one thing to publish a blog post every week, it’s quite another to create something that’s genuinely useful, informative and engaging.

The main reason why brands make mistakes with their content strategy, is that they don’t really understand who their target audience is.

So they either try to be all things to all people, or they create content that’s not really what their traffic is after.

Either way, this needs to be rectified if you are to create content that’s ‘truly’ of good quality.

3. Be authentic.

Google Penguin 4.0 is going to crank down on spammy tactics, but it’s important to note that, as rumour has it, this part of the search algorithm will always be switched on, so to speak.

That means that whether you’ve indulged in any black hat activities (either knowingly or otherwise) in the past, you’re still doing it now or are thinking of doing it in the future, then you need to address that.

A clean up of all SEO activity would be well advised.”

Matthew BarbyMatthew Barby @  matthewbarby.com

Sites adopting short-term strategies to scale organic growth will be the losers

“In my opinion, the next Google Penguin update won’t change much. The same types of websites will be impacted – those that are adopting short-term strategies to scale organic growth. My hope is that more websites that are ‘doing it right’ will prevail and Google’s move towards a real-time Penguin 4 algorithm update will help to keep this in check with less drastic single changes to their index.

Overall, my advice remains the same. You should always be testing ways to get ahead in SEO but just balance this out with the risks associated with it. If you’re trying to increase the amount of link building that you’re working on, try to stick to things that will scale in a way that won’t negatively impact your campaign or your brand.”

Melanie NathanMelanie Nathan @ topdraw.com

Usability, authority and value after Google Penguin 4

  1. Usability – Factors like page speed, accessibility and site architecture are super important. Never forget that Google wants to give the user exactly what they’re searching for. If you can help them accomplish that, then you’re doing it right.
  2. Authority – This still matters because searchers trust authority brands (more so than brands they don’t know). Therefore, signals such as social mentions, attention from media, sites that link etc are still something to strive for.
  3. Value – Google is already looking at more ways to determine if the user got what they needed from your website and content. Focus on giving the user your most valuable content, presented in the clearest manner.

Michael KingMichael King @ ipullrank.com

Google is getting better at classifying link spam in real time

“Sustainable SEO is far less about hacks, tips and tricks. So there aren’t three new factors that I’d expect to come into play with the Google Penguin 4.0 rollout. As far as link equity, it’s still about quality and quantity. It’s still going to be about not going after too much “commercial” anchor text and getting links that aren’t easy to manipulate. My best guess is that with all of the data Google has crowdsourced via the disavow tool, they are just getting even better at classifying link spam in real time. “

Mike GloverMike Glover @ ecpi.edu

Relevance, sematic search and death of PBN’s are the things that expect us in future

“Relevancy will be the biggest factor for Link Builders in a post Penguin 4.0 Era. Earning links from relevant websites with anchor text that is NOT keyword rich will be the key to an effective link building strategy in 2016.

Next will be Semantic Search and LSI keywords. With the inception of Hummingbird and Rank Brain, Google has been giving us all clues that they are leaning more and more towards Semantic Search and machine learning technology. Google Penguin 4.0 could fit perfectly into that strategy.

Finally, the death of PBN’s (Private Blog Networks) is on the horizon. That is to say that Google is learning more [machine learning more] each day and becoming smarter about these networks. And they don’t like them at all. Ever seen what happens to a private link building exchange Google has found? They die an instantaneous and blind siding death within Google SERP’s.”

Modestos SiotosModestos Siotos @ icrossing.com

Elimination of anchor text manipulation, importance of high quality links and improved contextual analysis algorithm

“It’s very hard to predict which SEO factors will be the most important ones in the next Google Penguin update, especially when considering for how long Google have been working on it. Because of this I would expect it to be a very significant update and as such I’d expect it to look beyond the obvious anchor text manipulative signals, which up until now has been easy to game as long as the anchor text looks natural and isn’t too focused on money-making keywords.

The second factor will possibly be a more powerful link-building pattern detection search algorithm that looks beyond easily-detectable link networks.

And the third one could possibly be an improved contextual analysis search algorithm, able to assess in greater depth the semantic relevance between two linked pages/sites.”

Moosa HemaniMoosa Hemani @ setalks.com

High quality content, new forms of content and disavowing bad links will be mandatory

“According to Search Engine Land, Google Penguin update launched first time in April 2012, to catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

We all know that the upcoming Google Penguin 4 Update is real-time which means a lot to businesses of all sizes.

From where I see the 3 important factors that will play an important role in the Penguin 4.0 era will be:

Genuinely High-quality Content: The Update is supposed to real-time which means you build a link on a low quality spammy websites; you will get the hammer in real time. This is a bad news for webmasters who are using loopholes to gain better rankings by using low quality tactics.

From genuinely high-quality content I mean the kind of content that people consume and then link to you because of your value preposition. I believe after penguin 4.0 will be rolled out completely you will see businesses will be spending more and more time on creating high-quality content instead of just 400 words of blog post every week that is meaningless to their audience.

New Forms of Content: As Google penguin 4.0 will be real-time, tactics like PBN, PR for links, directories and other ideas will be dead to a greater extent and businesses will start focusing on attracting real links. As content will be more and more in demand, I think new form of content will started to get more value.

Other than text, videos, webinars, photos and more business will invest on high-end content programs like writing meaningful books related to their subjects, offline event to get links online, creating tools that solve potential audience problem and more.

Basic reason behind investing on new forms of link will be to get more potential audience link to them naturally and also convert into leads and customers.

Disavowing Bad Links: People are doing it now but once the real-time Google penguin 4 will be live, businesses will be focusing more on disavowing links instead of removing the bad links pointing back to the site. There are two major reasons for it:

1. Real-time means the moment you will build a backlink, within days you will notice a fluctuation in rankings and as removing links can take time, they will prefer disavowing it.
2. Disavow (domain level) a domain tell Google that you don’t want to receive a juice coming from a particular website. This will minimize the impact of negative SEO done by your competitors.

Personally, I think the impact of real-time Penguin 4 will be big but on a larger picture this will minimize the spam level on the internet and quality of content will be improved.”

Nelly VinnikNelly Vinnik @ webceo.com

Regular audits of your link profile, increase of mentions and  evaluation of topical relevancy of backlinks

“Considering the fact that it will be a real-time and continuous update, link building and link audit will be reshaped. In a nutshell, Google will penalize websites once it finds low-quality backlinks and re-boost their rankings once they remove or disavow those toxic links. Because of the fast growth of semantic search, development of artificial intelligence search algorithms that will help understand the user intent, risk-free link building in the era of an ongoing Google Penguin Update rollout will include:

    1. A regular audit of a backlink profile. You’d better not to dance with Google in a rankings shakeup. It won’t do any good for you or your SEO performance.
    2. An increase of unlinked mentions (implied links). Implied links will become a new type of editorial links. Though they still don’t pass direct PR, it is a powerful signal of authority and trust score.
    3. Evaluation of topical (semantic) relevancy of backlinks.”

Nina BaumannNina Baumann @  linkspiel.de

Websites will have to create awesome and useful things for their customers

“High quality links were always a huge factor in the search algorithm of Google when it comes to evaluate a websites theme, relevancy and authority. That won’t change in the near future. With Penguin 4 Google is only implementing what is logical and sustainable:

    1. A good link is not only good for SEO (or your rankings). A good and useful link brings traffic to your website. Result: Positive user signals.
    2. Only a user-centered strategy is future-oriented. That is exactly what Google wants: Get the user the best search results. Do you get the point? If it is useless for the user, it is useless for your business.
    3. Instead of trying to be smarter than Google: Concentrate even more on creating awesome and useful things for your customers. “

Nyagoslav ZhekovNyagoslav Zhekov @ whitespark.ca

Topical relevance, more mentions and relevant quality links

“I believe the trend towards topical relevance as compared to “exact match relevance” will continue to be what Google will be trying to promote as a ranking factor. Thus, the value of anchor text will continue to decline – a factor that has always been of questionable importance to start with.

Additionally, due to the move towards “topicality” and context, it is possible that more importance will be placed on citations – mentions of a site (or a brand, or a business, or any other kind of entity that could easily be associated with a website) without these mentions necessarily featuring any sort of hyperlink back to a page on the site/entity in question.

Lastly, quality links should, hopefully, turn not just into a desirable addition to an overall website’s link profile (as it has been for years), but rather into the only type of links that anyone would ever want to get. In other words, Google will probably continue their battle against low quality, meaningless links.”

Patrick CoombePatrick Coombe @  patrickcoombe.com

Live updates will require a lot of adaptation

“Google Penguin is no doubt getting smarter, but in my opinion it has gotten weaker and more “lenient” over the years, in my opinion anyway. They also have been impacting a much smaller amount of queries, the first few it was 3-5% the last few its been about 1%.

In terms of factors, it is and always has been pretty straight forward: stay away from the shady links. Every SEO and webmaster has grey areas, links they are looking to accept or shy away from, or pretend like they are good. Google is the only one that has the magic formula that determines if a link is shady, or not. If you want to be safe, err on the side of caution. Do a preemptive disavow if you are really getting scared.

This latest breed of Google Penguin is going to be updating much more often, which will bring new challenges for everyone and new opportunities as well. SEO’s will no longer have to wait 3, 6 12+ months for Google Penguin to update. These new “live” updates are going to make the search landscape a whole new playing field. Good luck to everyone!”

Patrick HathawayPatrick Hathaway @ urlprofiler.com

Links, technical SEO and user experience will be major factors after the next Penguin update

“When real-time Penguin updates are thrust upon us, more than ever it is going to be important for SEOs to stay on top of their shit.

1. Links – obviously. Google Penguin is mostly based around link signals, so monitoring and avoiding unnatural links will become even more important than it is now – especially with Google changing things in real-time.

2. Technical SEO. As a broader trend, I see technical SEO on the rise, and it will become increasingly important that SEOs understand how their content is crawled, indexed and understood by search engines. If you do see a drop in organic search traffic that might have been caused by Google Penguin, you want to be able to rule out technical issues.

3. User experience. User engagement signals are already being used by Google to help determine if a user is satisfied by a given result. Even if your links are great and your site is a technical masterpiece, if users hate your website you will not succeed in the SERPs.”

Robin StrohmaierRobin Strohmaier @ r-rwebdesign.com

The real-time approach will have a big impact on links when Penguin 4.0 launches

“Google’s webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes, had this to say when asked about the coming Penguin 4 algorithm update in November 2015, “the new iteration will be real time which is a huge change.” With Google Penguin running in real-time focusing on filtering out unnatural links, link reputation management will be more important than ever.

The SEO factors that will play the biggest role in the Penguin 4.0 era will be similar to those of Google Penguin 3 with the quality of inbound links being at front and center. On page factors that follow Google’s quality guidelines will continue to play a crucial role as well as the diversification of linked anchor text.”

Ross JonesRoss Jones @  2thetopdesign.com

Architecture, content and engagement will be the cornerstones of SEO

“Links aren’t going away any time soon. Earned links will still play a huge part in SEO in 2016. Google just keeps getting better at enforcing their own guidelines against manipulative live schemes. Stepping beyond the focus on links, what works is still the holistic approach of the 3 pillars of SEO:

  1. Architecture
  2. Content
  3. Engagement

Make sure your Architecture is helping the user experience, reinforcing relevancy & encouraging engagement. Is the Content quality and presentation deserving of high SERPs? Is it aligned with searcher intent? Finally, are you sending the Engagement signals that Google wants: both onsite engagement and offsite engagement.”

Ryan JonesRyan Jones @  ryanmjones.com

More real time, but pretty much the same

“I don’t want to speculate on specific factors, but I will say that Google Penguin 4.0 shouldn’t be a surprise or shock to anybody. I imagine it will focus on the things Google has been telling us not to do for years now. I am expecting the next version to be more real time, but also to look at very similar factors as it has been. That’s good news for previously penalized sites who have cleaned up their act.”

Sanket PatelSanket Patel @ blurbpoint.com

Future of SEO lies in link building, mobile-friendly design and improving user experience

“1. Link Building

Google has already announced that the upcoming Google Penguin 4 update will be real-time. Thus, you won’t get the chance to get ready for the next update as it will be happening at every moment. There will no single chance to manipulate the Google SERPs with spammy or low-quality links as the Redzone of Google will be on the attack mode all the time. So if you are looking for some shortcuts to rank on Google, you better revise your strategy to include quality links for your website.

It will be more risky if you are using the exact match anchor text in your backlinks. Google Penguin 4.0 will be focused on user intent instead of exact match anchor text. So, top thinking about optimizing the keywords look at what your end users want, implement a branded keywords strategy, focus on URL, and long tail keyword variations to build a rich backlink profile that looks natural. A natural backlink profile is one of the most important SEO factors as it is capable to boost your rankings in the new Penguin 4.0 era.

2. Mobile-friendly Design

How friendly your website is for the users on various platforms, browsers, and most importantly devices is one of the vital search engine ranking factors of Google. Ensure that you have a responsive design in order to make your website perform better.

3. Bad User Experience

Google is becoming more concerned than ever about the overall user-experience once they visit your website. A bad or poor user experience could damage your rankings. You should make it easy for your users to navigate across the whole website. If Google detects any signs of a bad user behavior, it will play a spoil-sport for the overall performance of your website on the search engine. If the user bounces back to the SERPs to explore other website, chances are that your website’s user-experience is not up to the mark.”

Samuel HurleySamuel Hurley @  blueglass.com

There will be new factors that Google Penguin will consider to be spammy

“Real-time: As we all know this will be the first Google update that is working in real time, this means no more waiting weeks for Google to actually view your clean up work and disavow your links. As Google’s never done this before it’s yet to be seen how this will impact day to day SEO, we’re expecting to see a more immediate impact of old school link buying and of course the opposite can be said for high quality link building.

Update not Refresh: Google Penguin 4.0 will be an ‘update’ as appose to a ‘refresh’ meaning there will be new factors that Google will consider to be spammy, this is probably the biggest impact Google Penguin 4.0 will have. I believe that Google will start to give higher weighting to compound anchor text terms as appose to non brand, this is something that has been hinted towards in the past few months and something that falls inline with a brands ability to associate itself with it’s core service offerings but, as always, it will still be important to maintain a high percentage of branded anchor text.

An end to links? Not just yet!

Incredibly, even in 2016, some SEOs are still link buying. With the new update this should put an end to purchase links that cause an unnatural spike in link velocity. It’s been thought that links as a Google Penguin ranking factor will start to diminish, i’m against this mindset I believe that links in their most basic format will always play an important part in Google’s search algorithm as it can be a natural form of online promotion and brand building. “

Sean McGinnisSean McGinnis @  clearlink.com

Quality content, engagement and internal links will be crucial

“Rather than thinking about which 3 factors will be the “biggest” I prefer to think about which 3 factors are on the ascent – which factors will be more important tomorrow than they were yesterday.

    1. Quality Content. Gone are the days of focusing on word count or keyword density. Your goal should be to build “the most valuable page for this topic” on the internet. When you achieve that goal, you will win.
    2. Engagement. As Google moves away from signals that are easily gamed, one of the most important factors is creating content and designing pages that hold peoples’ interest. This ranking factor is still a rather small one today, but it’s importance is on the upswing, in my opinion – and will become even more important over the next several months and years.
    3. Internal Links. Many SEO’s tend to focus exclusively on the acquisition of inbound links from unrelated sites, which to be sure is still a very significant ranking factor. One of the more overlooked Google Penguin ranking factors is thinking strategically about how you distribute that “link juice” between and among pages on your site. For larger sites (especially e-commerce sites) this can be one of the most critical factors imaginable. Link value is like water, it will seek and find the lowest point on your site and will settle across those pages in equal distribution without a plan in place. Instead, think about internal link value as a precious commodity, one that must be managed aggressively – channeled to the most valuable pages and kept from those pages that have little value or that do not need to rank.”

Seth RandSeth Rand @  randseo.com

Link building and content marketing will be the core activities of future SEO

“The most important thing to consider with the new Google Penguin algorithm update is the backlink profiles of websites. Google Penguin has historically penalized websites that have a high number of unnatural links and it has taken awhile for some websites to recover. The good news is that the new Google Penguin 4 update promises to be real-time so sites that received a penalty will not have to wait a year or more to recover after cleaning up their backlink profiles. This also means that SEOs that utilize a solid link building strategy should see their efforts pay off in a timelier fashion than before. With this new real time Penguin 4 algorithm, the SEO factors that will play the biggest role are Link Building and Content Marketing.”

Shounak GupteShounak Gupte @  shounakgupte.com

Quality links, better user experience and increased interaction are on the horizon

“Quality of links over old-school quantity: Post Penguin 4.0 era, there will be more emphasis on contexual backlinks. No more backlinks in the footer or sidebar. Backlinks from relevant sites will have more impact on rankings rather than getting quick links from forums and Web 2.0 properties.

User Experience: With the release of Google’s Search Quality Rating guidelines, quality of the website, its usability and user experience will start affecting website rankings.

More interaction: Social signals will play a major role in determining the freshness of the website which will be a ranking factor soon. Schema & markup: It will become important since we are seeing more snippets in search results.”

Simon PensonSimon Penson @  zazzlemedia.co.uk

Link relevance will be in the highlight of Penguin 4

“Google Penguin is imminent and the timing means there will undoubtedly be lots of posts, like this one, attempting to predict what new signals may be wound into the search quality algorithm. The truth is none of us know for sure but we can use logic to ‘best guess’. What we do know is that Google has become a LOT better at understanding relevance and semantic association since the last roll out and so it makes absolute sense for them to utilise that new data set in improving results. Link relevance is crucial and will (probably) become even more important.”

Stephen KenwrightStephen Kenwright @  branded3.com

Next Google Penguin update shouldn’t change your SEO strategy

“Google Penguin 4.0 is unlikely to change much for the industry as a whole – there has been little to no change since Penguin 2. So I wouldn’t recommend changing tactics specifically for this update. Generally I would start to place less focus on links when you’re looking to grow (still important but not the most important factor anymore) and, first, make sure your website is relevant for everything you want it to be before you start promoting it and second make sure you’re offering literally the best page in your industry for any query you want to gain traffic for.

However what I would say is that – I hope – Penguin 4.0 allows some of the bigger sites to recover from the effects of the previous updates. The first year’s worth of Google Penguin was probably fair enough but everything since has been anything but.”

Susan DolanSusan Dolan @  seowebmarketing.co.uk

Social impact, real-time features and semantics will play a major role

“Think semantics in links will play a huge role, as well as real time so the Google Penguin side of the search algorithm will be live/active more so and perhaps even RankBrain / machine learning be used to catch out the spammers of days gone by! Also, social signals, real-time conversations and news to be taken into account. It only makes sense that if you are writing great content for your user it will automatically be shared across social platforms. The more people engage and share the social link the better. It then generates conversations in other platforms which of course only makes sense in the real world, Google is just trying to make sense of the real world!”

Tadeusz SzewczykTadeusz Szewczyk @ onreact.com

Anchor text distribution, backlink profile plausibility and brand stability lead the way

“When you ask “which 3 SEO factors will play the biggest role in the Penguin 4.0 era?” I assume that you probably mean Google Penguin ranking factors.

The Google Penguin search algorithm has always been about links are rather “over-optimized” backlinks built artificially by SEO practitioners. Thus the so called “anchor text” mattered most.

So called exact match or partial match anchor texts reflecting strictly the keywords you optimize for (e.g. [seo services] and [outsource seo] for an SEO agency) were targeted. In reality people link

– the URL
– the brand name
– or using words “here”

Thus it was easy for Google to filter obviously built links with the first Google Penguin algorithm.

What also mattered in my opinion was the overall backlink profile. Things like having a few authority links and no low level links is also considered “unnatural” by Google.

What spammers then did whenever hit by an algorithmic penalty (when having lots of anchor text optimized backlinks or having links from link farms or paid links) was to dump the burnt domain and redirect to a new one. I’ve seen that often with competitors who would rename themselves and use a new URL every few months each time they got a new algorithmic Google Penguin penalty.

With Penguin 4.0 or the real time Penguin search algorithm the “hit and run” tactic won’t work anymore.

As far as I understand Google will be able to check your backlink profile on the fly without giving you a few weeks or even months to SPAM its index. This is good news for all those who have been hit by a penalty without spamming Google on purpose. You will be able to recover much faster once your site/backlink profile is fixed.

What I consider to be a third and most important Google Penguin ranking factor in this context will be branding. Google relies increasingly on brand signals. When you change your name every few weeks you will probably lose the brand status and thus also the positive push from Google’s infamous “brand bias”. Thus the three things that will matter most in my opinion will be

1. anchor text distribution
2. backlink profile plausibility
3. brand stability

Ideally you stop algorithm chasing altogether and focus on holistic popularization techniques that yield organic links.”

Tim FelminghamTim Felmingham @  timfelmingham.com

Great content, quality backlinks, and site speed will remain the basic elements of SEO

“Google Penguin 4.0 is expected to roll out in January, and although it will shake up the search results, it will not mean a major change in SEO. It is simply a real-time implementation of Google Penguin, which means that bad links (and Penguin penalty removal), will be noticed much faster. The principle of bad links harming rankings is unchanged since the first Google Penguin update in 2012.

What’s new in Google Penguin 4 is that instead of sites with bad links being penalised in periodic sweeps, the penalty will now be applied in real-time. Sites with spammy backlinks will be found and penalised much faster, effectively giving quality sites a rankings boost. The other good news for SEOs is that disavowal of bad links should now take effect much quicker, whereas in the past if often took months to restore rankings affected by Google Penguin penalties.

So Google Penguin 4.0 isn’t going to change SEO. Best practices will remain the same. The biggest factors affecting rankings in the Penguin 4 era will continue to be (as they always have been) great content, quality backlinks, and site speed.”

Tom PickTom Pick @  webbiquity.com

Next Penguin update will focus on quality of links, content and technical factors

“Ranking well in the Google Penguin 4.0 era will be about quality: in content, links, and technical factors. Content quality should be approached from an “eye of the beholder” perspective: have you effectively and comprehensively answered a specific question for a specific type of individual (based on accurate buyer personas)?

High-quality links need to be earned through PR, social media, influencer outreach, and community/industry involvement. Technical factors are basic but often overlooked: make sure your site is mobile-friendly, loads fast, doesn’t have any broken or spammy links, and is easily “crawlable” by Google.”

Tripp HamiltonTripp Hamilton @ angular.marketing

Quality content, on-site optimization, and relevant links are super important in a post-Penguin world

  1. It may sound like a broken record, but content is king in the post-Penguin world of SEO. High-quality, unique, and well-optimized content will drive traffic to your website, Google (and other search engines) crawlers will be able to easily trace that you are the expert of a particular subject, and that will help you rank well for specific terms.
  2. Optimizing your website for crawlers and users alike. Page speed, schema mark-up, and logical internal navigation (breadcrumbs, updated sitemap, etc.) will be key to helping a website rank well. If you are not optimized for mobile search, get with present day, as more and more people are using tablets and smartphones to browse websites and potential options for purchasing goods and services.
  3. Relevant links have always been a must in my eyes. Too many times I will analyze a back-link profile and find completely unrelated websites linking to the penalized site. And they wonder why they were caught by Google in the first place? You can use small SEO tools such as Remove’em to help identify bad back-links, contact the webmasters to remove the unnatural links, and create a disavow file to negate the link juice from the remaining active, unnatural links.

Zac JohnsonZac Johnson @  zacjohnson.com

Quality, relevance and consistency are necessary for high ranking in Google

“The 3 factors that will play the biggest role in the upcoming Penguin 4.0 era, will be the quality, relevance and consistency of incoming links to a site.

  1. Quality – Too many people are still relying on junk sites and garbage PBNs to get backlinks to their site. What may seem like a quick boost now, can definitely hurt down the road it your incoming links are from sites Google penalizes.
  2. Relevance – A link coming to your site from a relevant niche topic site will be much more valuable than if it were coming from a random site with a ton of other random links.
  3. Consistency – Building too many links in too short of a time is an easy way for Google to see something fishy is going on. Sticking with the relevance and quality factor, if you have good content, new links should be coming back to your site all the time.

While these aren’t necessary “new” link building and SEO factors, I still feel they are the most effective way to build a longterm and solid relationship with Google and their search rankings.”

WOW, right? I am speechless, don’t know about you : -)

I am sure now that that you read all these PRICELESS TIPS you’re much more prepared for the upcoming Google Penguin 4.0 update and for all the SEO changes that are about to happen.

I’d like to say BIG thanks to all the great colleagues who contributed to this MAMMOTH piece (~15 500 words) – you’re all AWESOME!

This is the very first post on NikSto.com and I am so happy to have such a flying start. I made some great friendships while I was writing this article.

Now I’d like to hear your own responses to this question. Also, if you liked the article, please share it on your favorite social network. I’d appreciate it big time.

Leave a Reply

29 Comment threads
24 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
33 Comment authors
Daniel DamPeterNikolay StoyanovBrettDivya Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Awesome write-up Nick and plenty of solid tips to think about. Interesting times ahead.

Robin Strohmaier

Hi Nikolay,
What a fascinating collection of thoughts about what the Penguin 4.0 ranking factors may be. Great job! I am honored to be included with so many SEO experts! Thank you again, Nikolay. I will be sharing this!

Atish Ranjan

This is massive! Enjoyed reading a few. I am bookmarking the post, and will do read later because it is too big to read at once 😛

Great work, Nick.

Philip Verghese Ariel

Hi Nik, So glad to meet you on your page, this is for the first time on your blog. It’s indeed an amazing post! Such a lot of SEO Experts aired their voices on this vital issue, I am sure these voices will surely take away the fear griped in this issue. It is indeed a long post and needs more time to read it, i just had a glance all over and I am sad to say that except Atish,Ranjan, Ashley Faulkes, David Leonhardt and Zac Johnson all are new to me and will surely visit their pages to… Read more »

Rahul Yadav

I think this is really a wonderful post and ultimately we can understand that the entire game is based on links.


I’m very glad to see several of them bringing speed as a major matter!
For website speed optimization, give a try to dareboost.com!


Amazing post, I have favorited the post… I hope some of these will actually be part of next penguin update.


Thanks for sharing all in one combo…
Nice stuff…Easy to understand & straight forward.
I am bookmarking this post.

Ikenna Adimekwe

Very interesting piece, and so insightful especially because it looks at this issue from many different sides. It sure does look like a continuation of one of my articles entitled “Staying Current With The Search Engines”

Carlos Fabuel

I think 90% of SEO’s are in the same path


That’s a nine extensive list of opinion. I tend to agree with the view that the Penguin 4 will not be hard hitting, more of a learning curve for Google to fine tune what it is already doing. The idea of real time is great for both the ‘good’ webmaster to fix on the fly and the spammer to be relentlessly chased.

Harshil Barot

Very nice article !! thanks for sharing !!

Paul Lovell

Hi Nikolay
this is great
if you would like my views in the future just reach out and ask i would be more than happy

Andy Kuiper

…still waiting Google – let’s do this right though 🙂

Martina Motwani

Best Explanation of Penguin update as well as collobrate all the experts and their comments really amazin article i ever read.

Jeannie Hill

Nice to see your 100% white hat SEO practices. Also, you have done an amazing job of comprehensively covering this hot topic! Thank you.

العاب بنات

very great effort, thanks for sharing NIKOLAY


Great post!! in my opinion, Penguins 4 like update about power of link.

Stephen Leasing Berg

What a great post about Penguin Ranking Factors! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


So where is the mention of SSL & https that google said we HAD to have on our sites to outrank competitors???!