Why is the penguin update taking so long?

When the Penguin 3.0 algorithmic update finally occurred on the 21st October 2014, many people were met with a mix of anger and relief. Why so much frustration?

Well, the last update was exactly 12 months prior, while it was impossible for businesses to recover their rankings until the algorithm had updated.

Entire businesses and, in fact, entire industries fell at the wayside as SEO’s tore their hair out waiting for the results to occur following all their hard work. Many people asked why Google took so long, however the answer was that it was much harder than people thought to update the algorithm.

Real Time

Stroll forward a few months and Google made a huge announcement. The next Penguin update would be real-time. This means that if you were to gain a link penalty then it should be removed on Google’s next crawl if the links have been cleaned up.

In reality though, this is a huge operation, which the Google team underestimated. They have repeatedly informed us that it is nowhere near launch, despite hopeful attempts to get it up in place for the final quarter of 2015.

9 months later, we’re still waiting for the launch. However, I have a tingly feeling they could hope to launch the algorithmic update in October, following the pattern of the past few years. This is just a hunch, as each month that passes by it seems even harder to guess when it will come.

The fact is however that Google has to act soon. We are fast approaching the two-year mark (21st October 2016). Beyond frustrating, this is almost immoral.

Don’t get me wrong, people that built links are supposedly getting their comeuppance. That is what I hear from a number of pretentious individuals, however it really isn’t that black and white.

For example, a previous SEO company may have performed some black hat tricks, however does the sales and customer service team of this organisation deserve to all lose their jobs simply because of the reckless acts of some individuals? Should the company be punished for two entire years?


If you have previously been punished by the penguin update then I would recommend creating a backlink analysis, contacting webmasters to have the links removed and finally disavowing the toxic links.

The fact is in the final few weeks before Penguin goes ahead, it is likely that the data has already been gathered from the web, which is considered for the Penguin update. Your disavow would therefore be too late if you sneaked it in just before the update.

Should I Disavow?

This is all dependent. I find a lot of businesses think disavowing is the answer to everything. If you haven’t previously been link building to questionable sites (and you haven’t been targeted with spam) then you should be absolutely fine. If so, you would be better off spending your time on building high quality links.

On the other hand, if you have a shady backlink history, such as article directories and sitewide links with exact match anchor text, you may want to do a disavow so you’re in a good position for when the algorithm is updated.

What Should I Expect To See From A Link Penalty Recovery

A lot of people expect to see yourself return to exactly where you were in the rankings before you were hit. This sadly isn’t often the case, as you are where you deserve to rank, minus the links that were unfairly passing on link juice.

What it has done however is remove the ‘ceiling’ which was preventing you from holding strong rankings. You can therefore see some great results from conducting a link building strategy.

A client I dealt with had decreasing rankings each week since the Penguin update. When we took the account, we produced a backlink analysis and we disavowed 80% of the links.

Following this, we saw a soft recovery on the next penguin update, while following this date, we saw a soft jump each week, as we carried on building high quality links. They’re now in a stronger position than when they were hit, but it didn’t happen overnight.


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