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Google’s Gary Illyes announced via the Google webmaster blog that, after much anticipation, Penguin has finally been updated. The spam fighting algorithm, known as Penguin, is now part of Google’s core algorithm, meaning that it will run in real-time.

Penguin was launched back in 2012 and mainly focussed on devaluing sites involved in questionable link building tactics. However, it hasn’t been seen since October 2014, meaning that, despite many sites putting in a lot of effort to clean up toxic links long ago, they’ve gone almost two years with no signs of recovery.

Google’s latest update comes after a turbulent month, which saw a many webmasters complaining of significant shifts in the SERPs.

What does this mean for your website?

If Penguin took a disliking to your SEO practices in the past, you likely saw your organic traffic fall. If you’re on top of your game, you probably went to some trouble digging into your backlink profile to identify which links may have been causing you harm and disavowing them (see our post on how to disavow links). If this is the case, then you should keep a close eye on your rankings and organic traffic from Google, as you might be about to see the benefits.

Monitor rankings

If you are aware of any specific keywords that fell in the rankings after Penguin back in 2014, you should keep an eye on how they rank today. Remember that simply checking where your website ranks in Google yourself is unlikely to give you true results, as they may be affected by things like your location and search history. Check out WooRank’s Keyword Tool to track your keywords based on the country you’re targeting. The tool’s historic data graphs let you easily monitor any changes weekly.

WooRank rankings checker

Monitor organic traffic from Google

WooRank also allows you to sync your Google Analytics account to help you to identify any changes to your organic traffic. Enroll in our weekly email digest to get a summary of your most significant ranking changes (as well as those of your competitors), together with useful data from Analytics, such as daily organic traffic and bounce rate.

You can also check your traffic in Google Analytics under Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium then choosing ‘google / organic’ and setting the date range. You can compare the days around the updates to spot any significant shifts.

How do I know if I was affected by past Penguin updates?

There are several tools that allow you to track your organic visibility, so these are usually a good place to start. For example, Search Metrics and Sistrix will both show you where you improved or lost ground over time using ranking data across millions of keywords, giving you approximate dates of any significant changes. You can also choose to overlay the graph with known Google updates, helping you to see if a change ties in with an update.

As mentioned above, you can also dig into your visitor data to identify the date that you saw a sudden rise or fall in organic traffic from Google.

Why haven’t my rankings improved since Penguin updated?

Google stated that any changes will typically be visible shortly after recrawling and reindexing your pages, which means that it could be several weeks before you see the effects of the update.

Finishing thoughts

Be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that a change in your traffic is due to one of Google’s algorithm updates. Do your homework before sounding the alarms and look into all other possible reasons that could be the cause. A WooRank audit will help you identify any issues that could be the culprit behind a change in your organic Google traffic.

Were any sites you’ve been working on affected by previous Penguin updates? Have you seen any significant changes in organic traffic from Google since Friday 23rd September 2016?