Google Penguin

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Google Penguin is a codename[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, head of webspam at Google, 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.

In January 2012, the so-called Page Layout Algorithm Update[6] (also known as the Top Heavy Update)[7] was released, which targeted websites with too many ads, or too little content above the fold.

Penguin 3 was released October 5, 2012 and affected 0.3% of queries.[8] Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) was released on May 22, 2013 and affected 2.3% of queries.[9] Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1)[10] was released on October 4, 2013, affected around 1% of queries, and has been the most recent of the Google Penguin algorithm updates.[11]

Google may have released Penguin 3.0 on October 18, 2014.[12]

On October 21, 2014, Google's Pierre Farr confirmed that Penguin 3.0 was an algorithm "refresh", with no new signals added.[13]

On April 7, 2015, Google's John Mueller said in a Google+ hangout that both Penguin and Panda "currently are not updating the data regularly" and that they need to kind of be pushed out manually. This confirms that the algorithm is not updated continuously which was believed to be the case earlier on in the year.[14]

The strategic goal that Panda, Penguin, and the 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 the Penguin update was released Google prepared a feedback form,[15] 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.

In January 2015, Google's John Mueller said that a Penguin penalty can be removed by simply building good links. The usual process is to remove bad links manually or by using Google's Disavow tool and then filing a reconsideration request. Mueller elaborated on this by saying the algorithm looks at the percentage of good links versus bad links, so by building more good links it may tip the algorithm in your favor which would lead to recovery.[16]

Confirmed Penguin updates[edit]

  • Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)[17]
  • Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)[18]
  • Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)[19]
  • Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)[20]
  • Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on October 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)[21]
  • Penguin 6 (AKA Penguin 3.0) on October 17, 2014 (impacting less than 1% English queries).[22] On December 1, 2014 Google confirmed that the update was still rolling out with webmasters continuing to report significant fluctuations.[23]

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. ^ Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Page layout algorithm improvement
  7. ^ "Google Updates Its Page Layout Algorithm To Go After Sites "Top Heavy" With Ads". February 10, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries". Matt Cutts. October 5, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting". Matt Cutts. May 22, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm". Matt Cutts. October 4, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Penguin Algorithm, The Real Time Update". 
  12. ^ "Google Penguin 3.0 Likely Released Saturday Morning". 
  13. ^ "Google AutoCorrects: Penguin 3.0 Still Rolling Out & 1% Impact". 
  14. ^ Barry Schwartz (April 8, 2015). "Penguin & Panda still require manual updates". Search Engine Land. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Feedback on our recent algorithm update ("Penguin")". April 24, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Google: Even Without Disavowing, Getting Good Links Can Remove Your Penguin Problems". Retrieved 2015-06-25. 
  17. ^ "Another step to reward high-quality sites". Official Google Blog. April 24, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Google Releases Penguin Update 2". Matt Cutts. May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Google Penguin Update 3 Released". Matt Cutts. October 5, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting". Matt Cutts. May 22, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm". Matt Cutts. October 4, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Google AutoCorrects: Penguin 3.0 Still Rolling Out & 1% Impact". Barry Schwartz. October 21, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  23. ^ Schwartz, Barry. "Google Penguin Reversals & Fluctuations This Morning". SE Roundtable. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 

External links[edit]