This is a heads up for anyone that’s engaged in SEO and would like to be prepared in January 2016: Be ready when reviewing your web traffic, it just may take a dive along with the penguins above. There are a lot of updates and change recently regarding quality and penalties.
First, let’s talk algorithms: News on the street is that the Google Search team is confident the Penguin 4.0 update is ready for a January release. This was shared by John Mueller who has been the de-facto face and liaison between Google and the webmaster community since the departure of Matt Cutts.
The impending update is corroborated by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable who claims to have uncovered Google’s intention to have Penguin 4.0 released in January 2016 at some point, but no specific day has been mentioned.
Not only that, but according to Schwartz, Google seems to have sent out a large number of manual actions this week, after changing the language of the reconsideration request responses. He also added Google used to state that previous reconsideration requests that were revoked are now saying they’re approved. All this is related to link penalties that may still exist with websites, but points to a more automated system for quality control and mitigation. See more on this by clicking here on Barry Schwartz’s name.
Also out on the street is that Google may be delivering a slight ranking boost for sites engaged in their recent AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project. You may well have already heard of Facebook Instant Articles, which allows publishers to host content within Facebook’s infrastructure in such a way that allows for pages to load much quicker through their app, compared to accessing a web page in a standard mobile browser. Facebook’s technology is closed, but Google (and others) have created a more open architecture with similar goals called the (AMP) project.
Any ranking boosts from this makes complete sense since usability, load time and experience are all key factors that Google has been focusing on since 2012 for determining ranking. It’s always good to be ready for the changes by improving those three factors regardless. You can learn more about AMP here.
The more close to perfect a website is with Google’s standards, the better it does; and this combined with Penguin 4.0’s quality control methods, will likely spell for a better web experience for most sites.