Google Penguin

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Google Penguin is a code name[1] for a Google algorithm update that was first announced on April 24, 2012. The update is aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines[2] by using now declared black-hat SEO techniques involved in increasing artificially the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page. Such tactics are commonly described as link schemes.[3] According to Google's John Mueller, Google has announced all updates to the Penguin filter to the public.[4]

Effect on search results[edit]

By Google’s estimates,[5] Penguin affects approximately 3.1% of search queries in English, about 3% of queries in languages like German, Chinese, and Arabic, and an even bigger percentage of them in "highly spammed" languages. On May 25, 2012, Google unveiled another Penguin update, called Penguin 1.1. This update, according to Matt Cutts, was supposed to affect less than one-tenth of a percent of English searches. The guiding principle for the update was to penalize websites using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings. The purpose per Google was to catch excessive spammers. Allegedly, few websites lost search rankings on Google for specific keywords during the Panda and Penguin rollouts.[according to whom?] Google specifically mentions that doorway pages, which are only built to attract search engine traffic, are against their webmaster guidelines.

Penguin 3 was released October 5, 2012 and affected 0.3% of queries.[6] Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) was released on May 22, 2013 and affected 2.3% of queries.[7] Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1)[8] was released on October 4, 2013, affected around 1% of queries, and has been the most recent of the Google Penguin algorithm updates.

Google may have released Penguin 3.0 on October 18, 2014.[9]

On October 21, 2014, Google's Pierre Farr confirmed that Penguin 3.0 was an algorithm "refresh", with no new signals added.[10]

The difference between Penguin and previous updates[edit]

Before Penguin, Google released a series of algorithm updates called Panda with the first appearing in February 2011. Panda aimed at downranking websites that provided poor user experience.

In January 2012, the so-called Page Layout Algorithm Update[11] (also known as the Top Heavy Update)[12] was released, which targeted websites with too many ads, or too little content above the fold.

The strategic goal that Panda, Penguin, and page layout update share is to display higher quality websites at the top of Google’s search results. However, sites that were downranked as the result of these updates have different sets of characteristics. The main target of Google Penguin is spamdexing (including link bombing).

Google’s Penguin feedback form[edit]

Two days after Penguin update was released Google prepared a feedback form,[13] designed for two categories of users: those who want to report web spam that still ranks highly after the search algorithm change, and those who think that their site got unfairly hit by the update. Google also has a reconsideration form through Google Webmaster Tools for 700,000 sites.

Confirmed Penguin updates[edit]

  • Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)[14]
  • Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)[15]
  • Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)[16]
  • Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)[17]
  • Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on October 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)[18]
  • Penguin 6 (AKA Penguin 3.0) on October 17, 2014 (impacting less than 1% English queries)[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Penguin Gets Official Name
  2. ^ Webmaster Guidelines - Webmaster Tools Help
  3. ^ Link schemes - Webmaster Tools Help
  4. ^ Barry Schwartz (February 20, 2013). "No, Google Hasn’t Released Unannounced Penguin Updates". Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ Another step to reward high-quality sites - Inside Search
  6. ^ "Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries". Matt Cutts. October 5, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting". Matt Cutts. May 22, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm". Matt Cutts. October 4, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Google Penguin 3.0 Likely Released Saturday Morning". 
  10. ^ "Google AutoCorrects: Penguin 3.0 Still Rolling Out & 1% Impact". 
  11. ^ Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Page layout algorithm improvement
  12. ^ "Google Updates Its Page Layout Algorithm To Go After Sites "Top Heavy" With Ads". February 10, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Feedback on our recent algorithm update ("Penguin")". April 24, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Another step to reward high-quality sites". Official Google Blog. April 24, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Google Releases Penguin Update 2". Matt Cutts. May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Google Penguin Update 3 Released". Matt Cutts. October 5, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting". Matt Cutts. May 22, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm". Matt Cutts. October 4, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Google AutoCorrects: Penguin 3.0 Still Rolling Out & 1% Impact". Barry Schwartz. October 21, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]