Penguin 4 Update Rolling Out

CORRECTED: Penguin 4 Update NOT Rolling Out

While the Penguin 4 Update had not rolled out at the time of the writing of this post, as you likely know by now, it rolled out on September 23, 2016. If you’re looking for information on this update you’ll find it in the post “Penguin 4 Rolling Out“.

At 1:09 PT Beanstalk received the following Tweet from Gary Illyes:

To our request for a bit more clarification we got …

We’ll all be waiting to see but it may not be a Penguin.

Edit on the 11th:

While we’re still waiting for confirmation from Google, the Weather Report from Moz for yesterday show the following:

Moz Weather Report: Penguin 4 Update.

Further, John Mueller seems to be supporting Gary’s gut instincts so the Penguin Update is likely still off a ways.

Every indication is that the Penguin 4 rollout that we’ve all been expecting is currently underway.  Over at SERP Watch they’re seeing a level of activity that begun creeping up yesterday and spiked today.

SERP Watch Penguin 4 Update results.

This is being confirmed in other update monitoring tools including Dejan where they’re reporting:

Dejan's metrics for the Penguin 4 Update.

And further by Algoroo:

Penguin 4 Update viewed by Algoroo.

Upon being first alerted to this thanks to a post over on Link Research Tools I immediately began checking sites I was expecting Penguin impact on and this is most definitely it.

Impact …

Early indications are that this update is larger than any since the Penguin 2 update in 2013.  That makes it massive.

Many are reporting some very odd results with spammy sites and link networks appearing out of nowhere.  This indicates one of two things:

  1. The rollout is not complete and there are elements of it that would help these types of sites … until it really doesn’t.  In this event they will disappear as quickly as they appear.
  2. The rollout is complete and unsuccessful.  In this even there are again two possibilities:
    1 – Roll back the update and work on it offline and then try again later.  We’ve seen this multiple times in the past, or
    2 – Work on it live.

Which option they select (assuming #2 is correct) will depend on the scope of the issue.  If it’s major and they are not sure the cause then obviously they would pull it offline and try again later.  If it is minor or they can quickly isolate the cause and possible solutions then they will likely work on it live.  At the same time we do know that this version of Penguin was meant to turn the updating into an everflux version so they obviously have built in the ability to work on-the-fly.

Moving Forward …

The first thing to remember are the immortal words of Douglas Adams:

Penguin 4 Update: Don't Panic

Other than monitoring there is nothing you should be doing right now in reaction to this update.  We do not know where it will land.  We do not know why there are anomalies and tit is likely to be tweaked or rolled back in the coming days.  Monitor closely.  Heck, monitor daily but don’t jump on actions or celebrations until things settle and we’ve seen some stability for at least a few days.

Word From Google …

As of this writing there has been no word from Google.  When that happens it will likely be circa Twitter and likely to come from Gary Illyes.  While I obviously recommend following Gary, here’s a stream of the the Twitter communications regarding this event directed to or from him to save you time:

We’ll Provide More Updates …

As the update rolls out and will continue to update this page with links to additional information and our own followup data.  We invite you to bookmark it for future reference and if there’s something you want us looking out for or testing, feel free to let us know in the comments.


  1. My heart skipped a beat when I first saw this. As someone who maintained a website or 2 that was effected by the 2013 Penguin update these words make me shiver.

    I have however noticed an uptick of spam site referrals in my Google Analytics for the past couple weeks specifically and which has been super annoying. Any idea what to do about these? I blocked them with a filter, but I’m still seeing referrals in GA.

  2. Hi Nate, Dave here.

    Alas, you are not alone in that. We’re all getting hit with them. There are functionally two ways to deal with it:

    1 – hide the issue. You can filter them out in Analytics. Not my favorite solution.
    2 – you can block them.

    Number 2 is obviously my favorite and since you’re in WordPress the solutions is pretty easy.

    Just install Wordfence. It includes referrer blocking and you can simply add all the offending sites to your block list and they’ll be gone for good. To be sure, new ones will pop up but just add them as they become problematic and it keeps the situation under control and your Analytics fairly clean.

    Any questions just let me know.


  3. No point in fretting anyway. Update will come one way or another. There is a lot of speculation as it is. We can already guess which way Google is going so, in that regard, most of the SEO experts already adapted to these potential changes.

  4. Valid point Nikolay. I think we’re all interested in any collateral damage and of course, those who have penalties are looking to escape but in the end if you avoid spam … you’ll be OK. 🙂