Google’s Penguin Algorithm: What You Need to Know

A few weeks ago, we talked about Google’s Panda update and how to keep up with the search engine’s ever-changing search algorithms. Recently, there have been some rumblings about updates to Google’s Penguin algorithm, which is another series of changes released by the Big G. Here’s what you need to know about Penguin, looking back and looking forward.

What is Penguin?

Google initially launched the Penguin algorithm in April of 2012, with this official statement. With this launch, a huge number of websites — many of them small businesses — that “relied on the power of self-made links saw a drastic drop in rankings.” Although Google succeeded in taking down non-reputable, non-credible sites, a large amount of non-spammy, legitimate businesses were also severely hit.

Since then, some businesses have been able to recover, and Google has created ways for reputable sites to regain their rankings, including the disavow tool that was introduced in October of 2013. As we know, Google is constantly changing its search criteria and, therefore, the criteria that Penguin uses in its calculations. The Penguin updates and refreshes to date occurred on the following dates:

  • May 25, 2012
  • October 5, 2012
  • May 22, 2012
  • October 4, 2014
  • October 17, 2014

A few possible minor refreshes of Penguin occurred on November 27, 2014, December 2, 2014, December 5, 2014, and December 6, 2014

Typically, a site that has been demoted by a search engine algorithm cannot recover until an algorithm update or refresh occurs, which — in the case of Google’s Penguin — has not happened since late last year.

What’s all the rumble about?

The lack of a Penguin update is exactly why the SEOsphere is spooked. When’s the next update coming? Will I be ready? Will my site recover? Why hasn’t Google updated Penguin in almost a year?

It’s no secret that Google is smarter than ever before, and part of that intelligence comes from Google’s ability to distinguish negative SEO from self-made links. Still, the ranking game is tricky business, so it’s safe to assume that Google will be extra cautious about the sites/links it goes after if and when there is a Penguin update or refresh.

So, where does that leave you?

As always, we’re here to keep you updated on any SEO/Google news, including algorithm updates. If you have any questions, give us a call. We’d love to chat with you!

In the meantime, please take these words of wisdom into account. If you work to build your web presence through links on other sites, make sure your efforts are ethical and credible. Don’t pay for links, and only share links with reputable sites. Google is watching, and your audience will notice, too.

Have questions? Want to make sure your web presence is up to par? Give us a call at (972) 781-8861 or send us an email at