Note: This article was written to explain the issue of Penguin no longer demoting sites. I've written a full article here on everything we know about Penguin and will be updating this article regularly.
This is HUGE news. If you have been awaiting Penguin recovery, there's a good chance you'll see some improvement over the next few days.
Gary Illyes just tweeting the following:
What is a Penguin demotion?
I've always been reluctant to use the term "penalty" when it comes to describing Penguin. When Alan Moore asks Gary about a Penguin penalty here what he is talking about is a demotion or suppression. In the past, what Penguin used to do is devalue unnatural links and ALSO add a further demotion on the site. This demotion acted as an anchor pulling the site down and keeping it from achieving its full ranking potential.
This is why we would see situations like the one below. This particular site was gaining really good links throughout all of 2013. Yet, they were unable to gain any traction until the Penguin demotion lifted off of them in October of 2013:
I always spoke of Penguin as a trust issue. If Google distrusts your link profile, then you get demoted. If Google REALLY distrusts your link profile then the demotion is worse.
But, it sounds like this is all ending now.
What am I seeing
It is still really early to make any judgement calls as Penguin 4.0 is only a few days old at this point. However, I'm seeing a few sites that were previously Penguin demoted that are now seeing a jump in rankings. Some jumped to page 3 yesterday and page 2 (or even bottom of page 1) today. I suspect that what is happening here is that the Penguin demotion is now lifting off. As Gary Illyes mentions, it will likely take a few more days to roll out.
I should mention that there are some sites for which I expected recovery and I have still seen nothing.
What about disavowing?
I'll write more on the disavow tool next week. It is sounding like disavowing will no longer be necessary in regards to Penguin. But, Google says that other algorithms use links and so, if you have unnatural links, it's a good idea to disavow them for reasons that go beyond Penguin.
I've got some tests running now that should help give us more information on this.
What are you seeing?
Track your keywords. You may not see a big traffic jump, but you should be seeing an increase in rankings.
Now, if you are not seeing an increase it could mean that you need to wait for longer. Or, it may be that your site relied far too heavily on unnatural links. More and more what I am seeing is that the sites that are showing any sort of recovery are ones that truly did have good links.
If you haven't read it already, here were my first thoughts on Penguin 4.0. I thought that this new information on Penguin suppressions lifting deserved its own post.
I'm excited to see what happens in the next few days.