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How does Google Penguin work?

Google Penguin

Penguin (or Google Penguin) is the code name for an update to Google’s PageRank algorithm that was announced.

The update was intended to reduce the ranking of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using spamdexing techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link exchanges, deliberate content duplication and others.

Name of the update

The Penguin update was introduced. Google did not give it an official name until 2 days later.

Effects of Penguin on search engine results

According to Google’s estimates, Penguin affects about 3.1% of queries in English and about 3% of queries in languages such as German, Chinese and Arabic. The impact is greater for languages where SEO abuse is more common.

Differences between Penguin and previous updates

Before Penguin, Google released updates to its PageRank algorithm under the code name Panda. The goal of the Panda updates was to reduce the ranking of websites that provided a poor user experience. To identify these sites, a machine learning algorithm developed by computer scientist Navneet Panda was used, hence the code name of the updates. The algorithm was developed using artificial intelligence techniques based on human evaluations of the user experience of a large number of sites.

An update based on the layout of the sites was released. This update aimed to reduce the positioning of pages that displayed little information on the part of the page visible without using the scroll bar.

Penguin also aims to improve the user experience, but with more emphasis on reducing the positioning of sites using abusive SEO. The Panda updates did not address abusive SEO. Google is therefore trying to prevent webmasters from doing black hat to offer users quality content.

Feedback forms

Two days after the introduction of the update, Google published a feedback form for two categories of users:

those who want to report a site that practices abusive referencing (spamdexing) and that is still well-positioned despite the introduction of the update; those who think that their site is unfairly positioned by the algorithm.

Google had also previously released a reconsideration form in Google Webmaster Tools for the 700,000 sites that had received an email indicating that these sites had suspicious links.

Evolution of Google Penguin

  • A first update of this algorithm has taken place. This update, according to Matt Cutts, was to affect less than one-tenth of one per cent of English language searches.
  • Google Penguin 2.0 was rolled out on . This is the fourth launch of the filter. The update would impact 2.3% of English-language search results. This version now integrates the Penguin algorithm with Google’s daily updates.
  • Google Penguin 2.1 was deployed on . This version of Penguin appears to be a continuation of the previous version and seems to be minor. According to Matt Cutts, it would only impact about 1% of all search results.
  • Google Penguin 3.0 was deployed on . The objective of this version is to further improve the detection of link abuse and in particular the detection of networks of sites developed solely for the purpose of creating artificial links. This update has been deployed over a long period of time since Google indicated at the beginning of the month that the movements noticed by webmasters were due to the Google Penguin 3.0 update launched six weeks earlier.
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