7 years ago today Google announced the Penguin algorithm update, which came just over a year after Google Panda and a few months after the Top Heavy Update (an update that penalised sites with too many ads or too little content above the fold).
Google Penguin certainly got the SEO forums fired up and over the weeks and months after Penguin touched down; we saw the full extent of the update. When Penguin first launched in April 2012, it affected more than 3 percent of search results.
The algorithm update was rolled out to improve the quality of search for the user, targeting spammy websites that had poor link profiles or had engaged in manipulative link building practices. In the years before this update SEO’s counted largely on keyword-text based links and the sheer volume of links to help them climb the rankings to gain higher positions.
The SERPS were miss-match of poor landing pages (doorway pages) and spam sites ranking in prominent positions because there was nothing in place to measure quality – nothing significant anyway.
After April 2012 we entered a new age of search, an age where content became king, and the quality of content became a much stronger ranking signal. Those that had spent time writing unique, interesting and noteworthy content would be seen as a genuine, authoritative website – triggering other ranking signals such as social shares and earned links.
Google tightened up the search algorithm to provide users with a better experience, allowing them to find the best results that relate to their search query. In the years following the initial Penguin release we saw numerous data refresh versions roll-out, and of course Penguin 4, the final Penguin update in which we saw Penguin become a part of the core algorithm.