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The Google Penguin Update

The Google Penguin Update
October 9, 2017

Google introduced the penguin update in April 2012 to capture the sites which are regarded as spammed ones in the search results. Also, those in particular which are purchasing links or getting them through link networks created solely to encourage Google rankings. After its release, sites that have already been subjected to action and are marked as bad links which are caught by other tools may regain their ranking positions. New sites which are discovered with malicious behavior may not escape from Google penguin’s web. However, “False positives,” sites that are caught by penguin update by mistake may escape eventually.

In simple words, Google penguin has been designed to punish the sites which are intended to spam Google Search Engine or have the activities which seem like spamming Google algorithm.

What Makes Google Deem Your Site Suspicious or Spam?

As per the Google search algorithm guidelines, pages stuffed with keywords to rank high in the search results are regarded as spam.

Did Your Site Hit by Penguin Update?

Perform a search for your site, and analyze the results. In the meantime (i.e., split of a second), Google search algorithm reports the spamming activities through Google Webmaster Central, it notifies that there is way now to log-in and penguin update has indeed caught you.

The Google Algorithm

Penguin update is one of the major Google algorithms which dedicatedly deal with quality of links and nothing else. Links purchased or acquired from low-quality sites or directories, spam blogs, or link badges and maybe info-graphics can make the sites no longer get ranking for their search words.


The various Google Search Algorithms (

Whom Does Penguin Update Threaten?

Sites developed by unethical means of acquiring links or sketchy link building process by the companies or the SEO analysts must be wary about penguin update. The site owner should backtrack the record of the SEO firm as there is no excuse for not knowing how the penguin update operates. So, it would be a wise move by the site owners to research before hiring an SEO analyst or an SEO firm. Any violations of these guidelines would impact your site by penguin update. Also, guest blogging was accepted for some years now, but now it’s not feasible these days.

Features of Penguin Update

Nature of Operation

The nature of penguin update is algorithmic and cannot be taken directly from Google manually, no matter why the links are pointing towards a website.
The only relief is that, there is a separate action for links with low quality and that one can be lifted by Google after the links are cleaned up. This cleanup can be achieved by a reconsideration request in Google Search Console, So that, sites can be impacted by both manual linking action and penguin update simultaneously.

Incoming Links Only

Penguin update deals only with incoming links as Google search algorithm worries about the links pointing to the site and do not care about outgoing links. Another important note here is that there is a Google manual action which points directly to manual action and de-indexing of the website until the cleaning up of links is achieved.

Role of Backlinks

If there is any doubt about your site been negatively impacted by penguin update, you are supposed to perform a link audit and subsequently remove or disavow the low quality or links with spam nature. Site owners can find backlinks with Google Search Console which contains a huge volume. Beware that it also includes links that are not followed. Link, when not followed, has no impact on your site, but the site could discard that not follow in the future without intimation.

Many blogs and websites that show links to your site may direct only the visitors to your sites, but block the crawling the site. This blocking could be achieved by a simple command in the code. This command makes your site visible only to the traffic but not the Google crawler to increase your ranking. And the other scenario is that these well-known sites or sites with significant traffic would not want to waste their bandwidth on the bots because they suspect your links to be of low quality. So a precise maintenance of your site and fine-tuning is required for the other sites to give you the crawling opportunity.


Remove Bad links to protect your site(

Assessment of Link Quality

Assessing the quality of links is a troublesome job. We cannot assume that a link coming from a high-quality education site is good. Students sell links from their websites on those educational websites that are hugely spammed in nature. These are to be disavowed immediately. There is also a possibility that plenty of hacked sites are within these educational sites carrying low-quality links.

Do not decide solely based on the type of domain. If educational domains could contain spammed links, the same applies to the Top Level Domains (TLDs). Google confirms that just appearing on a particular TLD does not help or hurt the search rankings. Here, individual assessments are pretty much required. Usual presumption is that domains with .info carry more spammed links, but in fact, they do contain useful and links with quality which shows that individual assessment is necessary.

Removing the Links

After going through the backlinks and following analysis, one should figure out the links that need to be removed or disavowed. This process could be done by initially informing the site owners to remove the links pointing towards your site. If unsuccessful, add the URLs to the disavow file and submit it to Google.
Some tools in the market can automate the link removal requests even though you need not use them. Many webmasters will find the contact forms and emails and do it on their own.

Submitting a Disavow File

Cleaning up penguin issues can be achieved by submitting a disavow file. It is a file that can be sent to Google that notifies them to ignore all the links included in that file so that they would not impact on your site. The result is that the negative links will no longer have any impact on your site. As a result, negative links will cease to cause negative ranking issues concerning your site and with penguin update. If you include high-quality links in the file, they no longer help you in achieving better rankings. So decide correctly and choose before submitting links to the file.

Penguin Update History Dates

Penguin Update Version Release Date Percentage of queries impacted
Penguin 1.0 April 24, 2012 3.1%
Penguin1.2 May 26, 2012 0.1%
Penguin 1.3 October 5, 2012 0.3%
Penguin 2.0 May 22, 2013 2.3%
Penguin 2.1 October 4, 2013 1.0%
Penguin 3 October 17, 2014 Lessthan 1%
Penguin 4.0 September 23, 2016

Penguin 4.0

It was announced on 23rd September 2016, and it must be said that it would be a boon for legitimate SEO firms. It carries few exciting features that the previous versions couldn’t incorporate. Let us go through them individually.


Penguin Update 4.0 released on 23rd Sep, 2016 is the fastest update till date(BUSINESS2COMMUNITY)

The Google Algorithm Demotes Only the Links Rather than Affecting the Whole Page

The latest version of penguin update devalues only the spam links, and therefore, there are fewer chances to penalize the entire site unlike the previous versions and other Google algorithms which out-rightly punished the websites. This development indeed is a positive sign for the firms working on SEO.
Penguin update, with its earlier versions, was strict in operating. For instance, your site was affected by penguin update, and the entire site is subjected to demotion. No clear explanation was given nor suggested on how to recover. This sort of operation was harsh and always was surrounded by doubts on the algorithm. It attracted negativity among the business owners and a continuous rift with Google.

With penguin 4.0, this problem is said to be sorted claiming a unanimous thumbs up. Now only that penguin 4.0 has been upgraded its application but also eased a lot with its recovery process.

Penguin Update is made a Part of Core Google Algorithm

This unique feature of penguin 4.0 is that penguin update data is refreshed in real time. By this, changes are visible readily just after we re-crawl and re-index a page. To recover, we need not wait for penguin to refresh and update.

The Notion of Negative SEO Has Greatly Declined

Unlike previous versions of penguin 4.0, one cannot penalize the competitors, since Penguin won’t demote entire sites.

Having this feature means that Negative SEO is not a viable option to beat your competition. Penguin 4.0 encourages site owners and SEOs to focus on fine-tuning and promoting their sites, rather than dumping your skills on to demote your competitors.

Penguin 4.0 is More Pinpointed

This version is more granular than the previous versions. Not just identifying the spam links, this version pinpoints the links which would degrade the overall score of the website. This unique feature helps the firms and SEOs to concentrate on the links and content precisely. So, enhancing the content of the page becomes much easier. When Google becomes more granular, the whole digital marketing community becomes sophisticated.

Penguin 4.0 Reduces the Gap between SEO and Real Marketing

The significant enhancements made penguin 4.0 provide more definite results for ethical practices because spam is devalued more precisely. This development will push the SEO experts and in fact the whole industry towards real strategies and keep those away from practicing farce practices.
Although a majority of SEO companies follow real marketing, there are few individuals and small-sized firms who claim they to be SEO experts provide unethical services.
Penguin 4.0 is a straight shot to unethical practices and agencies promoting them, indeed a good news for SEO industry. The above changes have countered the issues and challenges occurring with penguin 3.0.


So, finally every organization or for the matter of the fact, the SEO experts have to take care of the quality of links and the source from where the backlinks are acquired. Beware and get going in the right way!

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