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What is Google Penguin Algorithm?

Google Penguin updates are manually released code changes that Google has applied to their search algorithms over the past decade.

Announced on April 24, 2012, the Google Penguin algorithm update was a significant improvement in the ranking algorithm. The update was to decrease and penalize the SERP result of any website or webpage that violates the Google webmaster guidelines1.

This update affected around 3% of websites and mostly affected websites with spammy content. Penguin 1.1 was released on May 25, 2012, primarily directed to spammy backlinks and, according to google, directed at %0.01 of websites. At the time, that figure was what Google believed were involved in spammy backlinks through comments and forum posts.

On October 5, 2012, the 3rd instalment of this series of updates was released. Affecting around 0.3% of queries, Page Layout Algorithm Update was to penalized websites with too many ads and few contents above the page. This algorithm update which is also known as top heavy update did not cover all search queries; otherwise, we would have seen an end to above the fold image carousel. After this algorithm update, many websites with proper SEO strategies stopped using image carousel altogether.

On May 22, 2013, Penguin 2.0 was released. This release impacted 2.3% of search queries. A couple of months later, and on October 4, 2013 Penguin 2.1 was released.

Perhaps the most important penguin release and the latest of them all was Pengiune 4.0, which was released on September 23, 2016. They were major changes introduced to the ranking algorithm:

  1. Penguin algorithm was now a part of Google's core algorithm, and changes to the algorithm were now in real-time with no need for a manual update.

  2. Secondly, Google had decided to stop penalizing websites for spamming backlinks. Instead, Google would simply ignore those backlinks as a ranking factor, and they would provide zero juice.