Google Algorithm Updates: Penguin 4.0 & Possum

Google Algorithm Updates Penguin 4 Possum 2016

Google seems to be changing its algorithms on a regular basis which can be frustrating as a website owner and SEO. Recent updates include ‘Google Penguin 4.0’ and ‘Google Possum.’ This article takes a look at both of these updates and what you need to know to make the most out of these updates. This will ensure that your websites and blogs are successful online and comply with Google’s policies.

Google Penguin 4.0

Google algorithms rely on signals or clues. These signals include words phrases that appear on a site, your region, fresh content, and PageRank. One specific algorithm signal is called Penguin, which recently received an update. It was launched in 2012.

The key changes that you’ll see in Penguin is that it’s now in real-time. Since the data is now in real-time, the changes will be visible quickly and typically will appear after a re-index or a re-crawl of the site. Penguin will now devalue spam and adjust the page rank on spam signals which will not impact the ranking of the entire website. In the past, you may have changed your site and removed spam, but had a hard time getting back onto Google which would have impacted your business in big way. Since Penguin is in real-time now, your site will be added back to the index rather quickly once Google determines that the spam is gone. There won’t be the months or years wait time that was the case before so your site will be back in the index. The Penguin filter will assess your site again and if everything looks ok, you’ll get ranked.

You’ll still need to use the disavow file to recover from a Penguin issue if you have had one, so the bad links are removed. You want to work to ensure that there’s no spam coming to your website in any way, but the new Penguin update will make it a lot easier to get your site back into the Google index after a spam issue does occur. You can help Google with your website spam issues if you use the disavow file so it’s still a good option to use it for that purpose. The spam links will be devalued or ignored by the new filter and your page rank will be adjusted as a result of this.
As a webmaster this will mean less headaches for you as you won’t have to hunt down spam as much on your site, the new Penguin algorithm will work with you to help remove spam and keep your page rank at the same time. Google will recognize spam attacks against your site and you’re not going to lose the page rank that you worked so hard to achieve.

Key Things to Keep in Mind

• Ensure your website always has high quality content
• Use Google disavow if you have bad links
• Make sure you link to high quality websites

Google Possum

On September 1, 2016 Google rolled out the local algorithm update called Google Possum. Many business owners may think that there listing is gone from the Google My Business listings, but they are not gone at all they are now filtered or in other words, “playing possum.”

The Update

The evidence is that this update only impacts Local Finder and 3-pack results, or the local results (Google Map results). There are also others that say another update right after impacted the organic results as well. The main purpose of this update was to diversify the local results and to prevent spam from being ranked as well. This is the biggest update since the 2014 Pigeon update occurred.

In local SEO searches there’s often a problem for businesses that fall just outside of the physical city limits. They have a hard time ranking for the city keyword. Once this update occurred these businesses saw a big increase in their local ranking. For example, take the case of the company Direct Inspections which is a business in Sarasota. This company wanted to rank for the keywords “home inspector Sarasota,” but they fall just outside the city limits of Sarasota.

On August 6th, they ranked #31 for a local search which is quite low for the keywords “home Inspector Sarasota.” Many companies have tried to change things around for years and still don’t rank well for keywords such as the example above. After the update, this company jumped an amazing 21 positions to number 10. Many other businesses which were tracked had the same results.

Google Now Filters on Affiliation and Address

There’s now a local filter on addresses and affiliation. So if your company shares a similar domain or phone number aiming users, ranking may be more difficult for all users in different ways. For example, you might have a business where there’s three separate listings for three workers who work in various locations and then one listing for the actual business. The three profiles all link to the same website and use the same phone number. Since all workers are working for the same business, several will show up in local results and the others are filtered. This works fine if you’re searching for a particular business in one location and want to filter out those that work in other areas as this isn’t relevant to your search criteria. Google will filter out the results from farther away so you find what you need in the local area.

The downside is that business that work in the same area, but have these same workers may have a harder time getting everyone ranked. Several of them will be filtered as “duplicate content,” even though they all work in the same relative area. You can use the zoom local finder to find these similar workers in the same area such as lawyers all working for the same law firm with same address and phone number. The algorithm should change in the future so improve upon this feature as some businesses aren’t being properly filtered yet. For example, you may have several businesses that use the same office building, but all get filtered because they work in the same area. There clearly needs to be a bit of improvement here.

Things to Keep in Mind

• Better searches and rank if you’re business lies “outside” of a site area
• More difficulty getting ranked if you have several employees working for the same company with same address and phone number in the same area. (not all will be ranked)
• If you search from far way from the business you’re looking for the results won’t be what you want
• Keep keywords as close as possible to what you want (makes it easier to find the businesses you’re looking for)
• Use local finder to zoom local finder to find similar results (same company, different local locations)


Google will continue to update its algorithms over time. There may be both low and high point sin between these updates. It’s important for blog owners and webmasters to keep abreast of these changes as they can impact your business in a big way.

About Tim Dugan

Detail-oriented and self-motivated Digital Marketing Specialist with a vast array of SEO and Digital/Internet Marketing experience. I have a genuine passion and personal goal to assist each and every client I work with by creating a significant web presence and ultimately, increasing sales. I understand that Digital Marketing, specifically Search Engine Optimization, is an ever-changing environment and in order to be successful one must stay abreast on the latest search engine trends. Implementing a properly calibrated and effective Digital Marketing campaign can transform one’s bottom line tremendously.

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