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When it comes to medical SEO, it is important to be aware what Google’s algorithms are up to. These algorithm changes do catch webmasters by surprise. The search engine giant keeps updating its algorithm multiple times each year, with the goal to offer results that are the most relevant for users. The Penguin algorithm was launched to bring down the rankings of websites indulging in black hat techniques. So, technically, the update should favor webmasters employing acceptable white hat methods.

How Google Penguin Affects Medical SEO

Penguin, introduced back in April 2012, was aimed at monitoring the quality of links leading to a website and reducing tactics leading to spam linking. Websites violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines were targeted, resulting in many sites suffering major ranking dips and even vanishing from the search results. Updates to Penguin were being released through the past years, with each update causing major changes to the search results. However, as we mentioned before, sites carrying out search engine optimization and marketing in an acceptable manner have benefited.

Sites that have suffered, though, are struggling to recover even after taking steps to clean themselves up. Google had earlier said that the next Penguin update is aimed at making it a real time algorithm, in that penalized websites can make changes such as disavowing or removing a link and expect to enjoy higher rankings immediately.  However, in spite of speculation that the changes experienced by webmasters in January 10, 2016 are part of Penguin 4.0, it’s still some way off. Real time algorithm is certainly a welcome feature, since penalized websites can look to get back to the rankings they enjoyed. But till that happens, let’s look at the history of Google’s Penguin updates:

History of Penguin Updates

As you probably know, the Penguin updates are changes in the criteria used by Penguin in its calculations. With each update, signals are modified or removed, or new signals are added to the algorithm. A refresh, however, does not feature new criteria but reruns the algorithm.  Therefore, as of now, a website that has been penalized by Penguin can usually be restored to its previous ranking only during the next refresh of the algorithm. For many webmasters, the real time update cannot come soon enough.

The following are the Penguin updates and refreshes that have happened till now:

  • Penguin algorithm launched on April 24, 2012
  • Subsequently, Penguin updates were launched on May 25 and October 5, 2012. Penguin updates were also launched on May 22, 2013 and on October 4 and 17, 2014.
  • Minor refreshes were also launched on November 27, December 2, 5 and 6, 2014.

The latest October 17, 2014 Penguin update was aimed at enabling website owners to clean their links. Still, many of the sites that carried out total cleanup were not able to recover because of the following perceived reasons:

  • Significant time had not passed for the search engine to re-crawl the links that were disavowed
  • Those sites that did not improve has issues with one of the Panda updates
  • Link clean up in these sites was not carried out thoroughly

Penguin is long overdue for an update, and Google is delaying because of the realization that:

  • Websites were being hit unfairly on account of negative SEO, and
  • If Google were to launch a new Penguin update targeting paid link placements and guest posts, reputable brands could get affected.

Real Time Penguin 4.0 Algorithm

Google was expected to launch Penguin 4.0 sometime in late 2015 as a real-time version, but it is not believed to have happened yet. Instead, the changes noted by webmasters in and around January 10, 2016 were reported by Google to be part of a core algorithm update, though some suspected Penguin 4.0 could launch as silently as this.

In any case, it is important to be prepared since it is likely that Google will formally announce Penguin 4.0 in the coming months. This would be a real-time update, so you do have a significant opportunity of improving your rankings if you aren’t quite there yet. An experienced SEO company can help you in making the required modifications to ensure compliance with algorithm changes.

Staying Prepared for Penguin 4.0

White hat techniques continue to be rewarded, and these are particularly relevant with medical SEO. These are what you need to improve and focus on, to ensure your medical website does not suffer ranking dips. Let the service and care you render be known to all and draw in visitors and eventually conversions.

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