Right now I’m sure you are sitting there thinking “what on earth does the title of this post mean?” Well, to put it simply, Search Engine Land are reporting that Google Penguin no longer actually penalises you! Or at least, not the extent that it did in the past. Instead, according to Google’s own Gary Illyes, it will now “devalue” the negative links rather than “demote” the entire site. Below is a screenshot of the conversation that Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz had with Mr Illyes.
Now this is almost certainly some really great news for a lot of people. However, don’t think that this means you can go out and get loads of spammy links and not have your site penalised in one form or another.
As you can see in the conversation above, Gary Illyes still says that a disavow file can help your site do better. He also specifically mentioned Manual Penalties within the same paragraph as the disavow. So, whilst it may not be clear yet, it certainly seems like Penguin 4.0 is a sort of early warning device. It will find your negative links and devalue them, but for all we know, it may flag your site as “in need of attention” in some way, which could eventually lead to a Manual Penalty.
So, whilst you technically don’t need to use the disavow file anymore when it comes to Penguin, I still think its best to play it safe. Disavow those negative links anyway, and try to get them cleaned up and removed. Let’s be honest, no one wants to risk a Manual Penalty after all…
Besides, this new information is coming out just two days after Gary Illyes said on Twitter that Google haven’t changed their recommendations on whether to use the disavow tool.
So, with that in mind, perhaps continuing your backlink clean up might not be such a bad idea… This conflicting information from Google paints a very confusing picture about Penguin 4.0, so I suggest we all play it safe. What do you think about this? Are you going to stop cleaning up your backlink profile? Let me know in the comments!