If you are into SEO, chances are you already know that Penguin 4.0 is coming soon. Before the holiday season, a Google spokeperson reportedly said:
“With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year”
Is that “won't march” a clue to when it is happening? If so, then changes could be coming this month.
Penguin has been a huge headache for many webmasters, so what can you expect form Penguin 4.0? Well, probably more of the same, with Google wreaking havoc on spammy links (again). We'll have to wait and see how drastic the effects are, but one thing we are expecting is a realtime Penguin – and that is good news. This will mean that penalized sites probably won't have to wait months to get a penalty removed. Removing the offending SEO that got you penalized should get you reinstated pretty quick.
If you want to be prepared for Penguin 4.0, my advice would be to login to Google Webmaster Tools and check out the backlinks they know about your site. Go through them, and if there are obvious spammy links, disavow them. Google have always warned us to be careful with the disavow tool, and I echo that advice. However, links on sites that are clearly spammy, manipulative or deceitful will never be good links, so I personally disavow the whole domain, not just the link. I'll also disavow links on any site that a poor quality, but that is just my personal preference for keeping my link profiles squeaky clean.
If you want to read more details about Penguin, I suggest you look at this article:
Incidentally, just because we have to follow Google's webmaster guidelines to get some Google love, Google don't always practise what they preach. This is an interesting article:
Before we leave Google, there was at least one more interesting development recently. Google removed the right hand sidebar from the search results. That right hand sidebar, if you need reminding, was a list of adverts. Unfortunately that does not mean a more ad-free Google. They've simply added a new advert at the top, making a maximum of 4, and then pushed the rest to the end of the page.