How the New Google Algorithm Update Will Affect Your Website (in Plain English)

Last week, Google announced a major update to a part of its ranking algorithm, the Penguin 4.0 update.  In plain English, Google’s ranking algorithm is the complex, secret recipe made up of around 200 different signals that the search engine uses to categorise and sort websites in its results pages. And as you know, if your site is really relevant, you can end up with a place on page 1 for a search, bringing 24/7 visibility, and a higher chance of consistent sales.

The latest update, named Penguin 4.0 is a very big deal in the SEO world because it rolled out some important changes people had been waiting for since the first Penguin update 4 years ago. There are a lot of algorithm updates to Google every year (around 500) but this one is so important as it concerns making sure incoming links are high quality, which is one of the hardest, most time consuming parts of SEO.

What It Means for Small Business Sites

The plan is that Google’s ranking process will now check the value and trust of links pointing to a site more accurately on a more regular, faster basis. Every time is a site is now crawled by a search engine spider, your rankings may change if you’ve since attracted new high quality or low quality links.

Individual pages of websites will be penalised if they have rushed to create poor links which aren’t relevant, have used tactics like paying for links from other sites (which has long been against Google’s webmaster rules) or worse still, have incoming links from spam sites built by unethical SEO agencies. Although this may be a concern if you’ve outsourced SEO and are not sure what methods have been used for your site, you can check your link profile (the list of incoming links) using an SEO tool such as Open Site Explorer or Google’s own free Search Console tool (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to see if any of the links look untrustworthy. Many SEO tools, including Open Site Explorer, include a ‘spam score’ as well, giving you an indication of any negative links that might be harming your reputation in the results.

If you find negative links, you can contact the webmaster who owns the site in question (find their details with a ‘who is’ search) and ask them to remove the link to your site. If the site is particularly spammy though, you can go straight to Google’s Search Console where there is something called the ‘disavow’ tool. This lets you request that Google ignores any poor quality links you’ve found that point to your site, so you’re no longer associated or affected by them, which is only fair.


Overall the new version of the algorithm is great news for small business owners who have worked hard on creating content and doing their own SEO and is bad news for cowboy SEO providers, making the search results pages a fairer place.

Now rankings can change more frequently as links come and go, the results of good SEO should have a helpful effect on your site sooner. And removing or disavowing any poor links you find will also help you get rid of any search engine penalties that may have caused a traffic and ranking drop to your site, getting you back on track faster.

Do let me know in the comments below if you’ve any questions on the new update or SEO in general. If you’d like to know more about the DIY SEO for Sales training course that is launching soon, jump on over to this page for more details and to sign up for the waiting list.

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