Google Penguin refers to a set of algorithm updates and data refreshes for the Google search engine that the company periodically initiates to help enhance the value of its search query results for users.
The Google Penguin updates primarily seek to prevent various types of search engine spam (also known as spamdexing or Black Hat SEO) from being successfully rewarded in the form of higher-placed search engine results. Search engine spam can include activities such as keyword stuffing, link spamming, the use of invisible text on web pages, duplication of copyrighted content from high-ranking web sites and more.
How Often Are Google Penguin Updates Rolled Out?
Google rolled out the first Penguin update in April 2012, and the search company estimated it affected 3% of all English-language web sites. Google doesn’t always announce changes for Penguin, but there have been at least five Google Penguin updates, including a major update, Penguin 2.0, in May 2013 and the most recent, Penguin 2.1, later that year in October.
How Does Google Penguin Differ from Google Panda and Google Hummingbird?
While Google Penguin shares similarities with two other algorithmic enhancement projects from Google, Google Panda and Google Hummingbird, Penguin’s specific focus is on penalizing companies and web developers that deliberately try to “boost” their search engine rankings via manipulative SEO tactics.
Google Panda, on the other hand, specifically targets low quality or “thin” content web sites by downgrading them in the search results so that higher quality sites can receive more prominent results.
The third project, Google Hummingbird, focuses on introducing a completely new search algorithm as opposed to Google Penguin and Panda, which both serve as updates for Google’s existing search algorithm engine.
Recommended Reading: How Web Search Engines Work and Five SEO Tips for Driving Search Engine Traffic