After a number of years of waiting, Google has now confirmed that its Penguin algorithm update is rolling out in all languages across the web.
The last update was released way back in 2014, and there's a chance it actually affected less than 1% of US and UK based searches, but that ultimately translated to 12 billion queries.
Here are all the changes you can expect from Penguin 4.0 according to Google’s blog post.
Penguin is now real-time.
Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google's algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. With this change, Penguin's data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we're not going to comment on future refreshes.
Penguin is now more granular.
Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.
What is Penguin?
According to Adam Stetzer of Search Engine Watch, Google first launched the Penguin algorithm update back in April 2012 to catch sites spamming the search results. This was specifically intended for the ones who used link schemes (known as backlink building/blackhat SEO) to manipulate search rankings.
Penguin's core responsibility is to hunt down bad links; the ones purchased by the websmaster or placed solely for the sake of improving search rankings.
Before Penguin, bad links were simply devalued and needed to be replaced in order to recover search rankings, but according to Chuck Price, after the Penguinupdate bad links became "toxic", requiring a link audit and removal or disavow of spammy links and a Penguin refresh was usually required before one could see any signs of recovery.