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Google Penguin Updates: A Brief History

EVERGREEN, COLORADO – Did you ever get a penguin bite? If so, then you know it’s no fun. Google’s Penguin bites are so fierce that even a single attack could do potential harm to your website, blog or online business.

If you aren’t aware yet, the word Penguin has been coined to refer to one of Google’s very important search algorithmic updates. This is an update which fights against web spam – keyword stuffing, link schemes and cloaking.

If you use any of the aforementioned black-hat SEO techniques, Google’s Penguin will make you pay the price.

The feud between black-hat SEO artists and Google continues. To combat against the increasing amount of web spam, Google regularly rolls out several different types of search algorithmic updates.

In fact, Google launches an update every few months that impact SERPs significantly. This is an ongoing attempt by Google to encourage high quality SEO and punish unethical online marketing tactics.

“Google’s Penguin has been quietly working behind the scenes, assessing websites and identifying those with an overabundance of manipulative links. Now, one year later, it looks like the Penguin is beginning to stretch its wings and flex its algorithmic muscles,” says Dario Zadro, an SEO enthusiast, after Google released the new Penguin 4 update (May 22, 2013).

Penguin 2.0 is the fourth release as far as Google’s Penguin updates are concerned. In case you don’t know about the previous Penguin updates, let’s take a look at what Google has rolled out so far, what’s specific to each of them, and how they have impacted the search rankings for publishers and site owners worldwide.

Penguin 1 [April 24, 2012]
This was the first Penguin algorithmic update and Google announced that these updates were targeted at downgrading the rankings of those websites that violated Google’s quality guidelines.

Penguin 1 was released to fight against web spam, which is not the same as over-optimization.
“I think ‘over-optimization’ wasn’t the best description, because it blurred the distinction between white-hat SEO and web spam. This change (i.e., Penguin 1 update) is targeted at web spam, not SEO, and we tried to make that fact more clear in the blog post,” said Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team.

As the very first Penguin algorithmic update went live, it impacted around 3.1 queries in English and about 3 percent in languages like German, Chinese and Arabic. As the main goal of this search update was to target web spam, many low-quality or spammy sites were badly hit.

Penguin 2 [May 26, 2012]
A little over a month after the first Penguin update, the second one was announced by Google. On 26 May 2012, Cutts tweeted that they had rolled out the first Penguin algorithmic data refresh.

Since it was a mere data refresh (where the algorithm remains the same but the index is updated), Cutts added that it would impact no more than 0.1 percent of English searches. He gave his tweet an interesting (but self-explanatory) title – Minor Weather Report.

Though many webmasters and SEO experts thought Google had already rolled out many updates to its Penguin algorithm, Cutts confirmed that this (Penguin 2) was the first update since April 24.

After this update was launched, stories of both traffic recoveries and drops were reported within the webmaster communities. Many others reported that there was little or no change in their site’s Google rankings.

Penguin 3 [Oct. 5, 2012]
According to Cutts, this third Penguin update was also a data refresh. Cutts tweeted that Google was rolling out the latest data refresh of its Penguin algorithm. He also mentioned that this update was going to affect as little as 0.3 percent of all English queries. This time, he chose ‘Weather Report’ (removing the word ‘Minor’, as was added in his last tweet) as the title of his Twitter update.

Cutts further clarified that the Spanish impact was 0.4 percent and the Italian impact was 0.3 percent of search queries.

After this third Penguin update by Google was launched, many webmasters reported recovery from lost rankings. Many SEOs noticed no massive changes in their clients’ website SERPs after running a keyword analysis to check their ranks. Also there were those who reported regaining their lost search rankings on Google.

After this update, however, a large number of SEOs and webmasters were paying serious attention to improving the backlinks profile of their sites, trying to make it look as ‘natural’ as possible.

Penguin 4 [May 22, 2013]
The fourth Google Penguin update went live May 22. With this algorithmic update, however, there was something special that Google did, a twist to all the previous Penguin updates.

Cutts explained this update on his blog –

“We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin web spam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the rollout is now complete. About 2.3 percent of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The change has also finished rolling out for other languages worldwide.”

According to Google, Penguin 2.0 featured brand-new technology that is an innovative step in spam-fighting. It’s also very clear that this update is no data refresh, but a major change to the Penguin algorithm from Penguin 1.

The fourth Penguin update also promises a boost in the search engine authority of quality sites belonging to specific industries and communities. On the other hand, it has already impacted the keyword rankings of many niche sites with shady or low-quality backlink profiles that show up.

This was just a quick recap of all the Google Penguin updates so far. We, at Millionairium, will keep you posted on the minor and major search algorithmic updates as Google launches them so make sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss them!

If your website has lost ranks from Penguin, contact Millionairium for an online marketing coaching or consulting session to find out what you can do to potentially regain your ranks.

Google Penguin Updates: A Brief History was last modified: September 18th, 2018 by Millionairium
  • I have learned so much by reading your blog. It always amazes me how much there is to learn. It is also mind boggling how fast things change. For a newbie like me having a resource like you is a God send.

    Becca 6 years ago