After the arrival of the long-awaited Penguin 4.0, the version that benefits site owners by eliminating long waits to recover if they are negatively affected by Penguin, users were still left wondering about significant updates to the Google algorithm in the future.
Luckily, questions surrounding these updates seem to have been answered on Twitter by Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google and part of the Google Search Ranking Team. In response to a Tweet sent to him on January 23, 2017, asking if the current version of Penguin was still marked as the fourth and whether Google was planning another new release, Illyes responded the next day that there were no plans for anymore numbered releases of Penguin in the future.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that there won’t be changes and revisions done to Penguin, just that they will no longer be numbered as they had been in the past. In fact, Illyes also stated in a separate tweet that same day that Google will work hard to ensure they’re transparent about substantial changes to Penguin. In this way, site owners will surely be able to recognise when future updates are made, even if they’re no longer naming them in numerical order.
Though numbered updates won’t be as apparent to site owners, it doesn’t mean Google will necessarily do away with the numbered model altogether. Google may still use numbers internally, but future updates will be in real-time and not on a specific date—a release schedule that used to make it easy for site owners to know whether a site was hit by Penguin or if it recovered from the update.
This won’t be entirely surprising to some, however. It’s actually a move that is quite similar to how they have handled Google Panda. Like Penguin now, Panda has not seen a numbered release since July 2015 when the last major update was performed. Since then, it has transitioned to what Google likes to call a “slow rollout” for technical reasons, with updates having been integrated into the algorithm and therefore, less noticeable.