Google Penguin, for those unaware, is the technology used by Google to decrease the search engine rankings of sites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when it comes to link building. Google historically judged the popularity of websites by how many other pages linked to them, so a common black-hat SEO technique was to essentially create ‘link farms’ that all point to a specific page with the aim of artificially inflating its relevance in search results. Google Penguin was developed to combat this since its initial release in 2012 and continues to be refined to this day.
Due to the importance of Google Penguin in how it affects SEO, it’s important to keep a steady eye on its development. Google recently announced at the Friends of Search conference that they were not planning any major updates to the Penguin algorithm in the near future. They specifically mentioned no major updates, so that does not preclude minor tweaks, but the takeaway is that it’s business as usual for the time being.
This is good news as tweaks to Google’s search algorithms can have massive impacts on search results and therefore the amount of traffic that sites generate organically. Most websites rely on high rankings within Google for a large portion of their traffic, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest announcements. Officially Google estimates only 3.1% of search queries were affected by the introduction of Google Penguin, so for most honest webmasters there is likely little to worry about. Nevertheless, these updates are also watched by less than honest webmasters who seek to quickly study any new updates in order to game the system and get around the penalties imposed by Google.
It’s important to stay alert and keep on top of Google algorithm changes. Google updates their algorithms anywhere from 500-600 times a year, though most changes are not notable. However, previous major updates to Google Penguin have had a significant impact on search results. Notable is Penguin 6, released on 17th October 2014, but left many legitimate webmasters negatively impacted up to December and beyond. The last major update was released on 23rd September 2016. Although there is no set release schedule for major updates, thus far they have been spaced more or less around 1 year apart from each other. While no major updates are planned for the next future, this will inevitably change so we advise always following Google algorithm updates closely!