A week ago, there’s a bit of a commotion in the SEO community that prompted some to conclude that Google had at last rolled out its most anticipated algorithm update which is Penguin 4.0.  But, after careful checking, reliable sources and even Googlers themselves confirmed that it’s not Penguin yet.  Googler Gary Illyes also confirmed it on his tweet.

So, what really happened?

For those who haven’t caught up yet with this latest algorithm roll out, here’s a quick flashback on what had transpired last week.


On the 11th of this month, Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast, reported that they’ve witnessed the biggest and most dramatic changes in Google rankings in the last few years. At first he taught that it’s the most awaited Penguin update, but later on he corrected himself and concluded that it’s a Google core algorithm update.  Here’s what he wrote on his blog.


“So… What changed? We don’t know. The changes are… Weird. We’ve been using a couple of datasets to look at this update, but most of all we’re looking at SearchMetrics. They publish a list of winners and losers every week and this week the changes seem to have happened mostly for news sites, specifically for brand terms.”


Joost is actually referring to the sudden fluctuation of the SERPs (search engine result pages) that mostly affected news websites wherein brand keywords are the target.


Likewise, on the day before that, Dan Petrovic of DejanSEO.com, has a bit similar observation.


“It looks like Penguin, but it’s broader in its scope so at this stage it appears to be a multi-purpose update encompassing a range of search quality parameters. From webmaster reports we know this update carries global impact.”


Link Research Tools and Search Engine RoundTable also have the similar observations.

But, are there proofs that what Google rolled out or tested was the Brand Bidding Algorithm?

Some experts in the industry concluded that the search giant rolled out an update for its Brand Bidding algorithm, but there are also those who are not convinced.

Joost de Valk is not convinced with the brand bidding algorithm and he quickly explained it in the following blog post.


“Bartosz has written a good post (with tons of interesting screenshots if you don’t have access to SearchMetrics), that touches on some of the things I had seen too. He calls it a “brand bidding update”, which I don’t think is right. I do agree with him that the change was in the type of results that Google shows for brand queries. The switch seems to have been from news articles to more “timeless” URLs.”

Our take about this latest unnamed roll out.

This core algorithm update is really something that should be analyzed more deeply.  As of this writing, we noticed that there are only a very few who tried to dig more data to find out what really it is.  Google hasn’t released any statement yet about it and what we mostly read online are just mere speculations and unconfirmed conclusions.


Despite the confusions, we think the roll out last week was part of Google’s core algorithm update that they regularly release every now and then, but that one is really big.  And, basing on how it affects branded key terms, it is definitely not related to the much anticipated Penguin 4.0 update.  But, we can’t really say that we are right.  Let us end this article with this interesting comment from one of the members of a Black Hat forum.


“There have been massive SERP changes/fluctuations since September/October of 2015. For all we know, Google has been silently rolling out the new Penguin algorithm all this time. It is in their best interest not to announce its rollout when it is actually happening and instead wait for it to roll out, the SERPs to stabilize and then “announce” that they have implemented it. This way they get to avoid the massive PR sh*tstorm which always takes place when they announce large algo updates the moment they take place. Why do you think Matt Cutts is no longer the spokesperson for these updates? They learned that it is better to just be as vague as possible and/or keep everyone in the dark when it comes to large updates.”


Lastly, on the 16th of this month, another massive core algorithm update has been rolled out by Google and it is called “Burj Khalifa”. Google has been very sneaky these past few months.  Fortunately for them (and unfortunately for us) they always have the upper hand if they wanted to announce the release of their big algorithm roll outs or not.  Now, it’s your turn to create a conclusion.

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Qamar Zaman is a head of SEO and CEO of OneSEOCompany.com