Essence of Penguin Algorithm – Past and Present

Google implements search algorithms to identify and select genuine websites with good credibility and display prominently for a given search keyword. Among 200 parameters that are believed to affect the search rankings, penguin was designed to filter websites that are deemed to alter search results by spammy techniques. Before the major Penguin update was released in September 2016, the algorithm had gone through many major changes in the form of periodical updates. Each penguin algorithm update had a different effect on search results as it impacted only certain number of the percentage of search queries. With Penguin 4.0, the algorithm became real-time, affecting or adjusting rankings based on the spam of individual pages rather than the whole website. For clarity on penguin updates, past and present, let us understand the series of changes that the algorithm had gone through from the beginning.

Penguin1.0 – Introduced in April 2012
Google announced penguin 1.0 as a new search algorithm to bring a change in validating websites for spammy techniques. It also emphasized on high quality content for websites and targeted at webspam such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content, link schemes, cloaking etc. The algorithm affected rankings for websites that went against Google webmaster guidelines to rank better in search results.

Penguin 1.1 – ( One month later)
Google announced first penguin update one month later and called it as ‘data refresh’. It is more like a refresh rather than the algorithm update because it hardly had any changes to the existing Penguin 1.0 module. As a part of validating websites for webspam, the algorithm focused on de-ranking the website positions that used over optimization methods such as keyword stuffing in content and link spam techniques such as purchasing links etc.

Penguin 1.2 – ( Four months later)
Four months later in Oct 2012, Google announced 3rd update and released as Penguin 1.2, impacting 0.3% of English language searches. It also impacted search queries across multiple languages such as Spanish, Italian and French. As with the features of other previous Penguin updates, this algorithm update also targeted sites using webspam in general, additionally focusing on low-quality inbound links within the website.

Penguin 2.0 – ( A year later)
The fourth release of Google Penguin 2.0 went live in May 2013, with complete implementation of webpsam for non-English languages. While the update had 2.3% impact on English search queries, it also had major affect on search results for other language sites. Penguin 2.0 affected the websites varied by language, that means websites having spam get impacted based on the language.

Penguin 2.1 – ( 5 months after Penguin 2.0 )
Google announced Penguin 2.1 in Oct 2013, with minor changes to the previous version of Penguin 2.0. It had only 1% impact on searches, and focused on sites using webspam techniques for ranking just like the previous version.

Penguin 3.0 – Oct 2014 ( One year after Penguin 2.1 release )
Approximately after one year of the release of Penguin 2.1, Google announced new version of webspam filtering in the form of Penguin 3.0 update. The algorithm penalized the sites with spammy backlinks pointing to them and the sites had to wait for the next release which means for almost 2 years to recover from penalty. Due to devaluation of unnaltural links, many websites had experienced drop in rankings in search results for their websites.

Penguin 4.0 – Sept 2016 (Approximately after 2 years from Penguin 3.0 )
Google announced major release for algorithm as Penguin 4.0 by making it as a part of core algorithm.
Along with the other 200 parameters affecting the search results, Penguin 4.0 had focused on spam and freshness of content. Now the websites need not wait for two years to see the effects, as the Penguin’s data gets refreshed in real time. Rather than affecting the rankings for the whole website, the algorithm devalues the site with spam by adjusting its rankings in search results.

By: Uma Sri