Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live

angry-penguin-200pxThe fifth confirmed release of Google’s “Penguin” spam fighting algorithm is live. That makes it Penguin 5 by our count. But since this Penguin update is using a slightly improved version of Google’s “Penguin 2″ second-generation technology, Google itself is calling it “Penguin 2.1.” Don’t worry. We’ll explain the numbering nonsense below, as well as what this all means for publishers.

New Version Of Penguin Live Today

The head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, shared the news on Twitter, saying the latest release would impact about 1 percent of all searches:

The link that Cutts points at, by the way, explains what Penguin was when it was first launched. It doesn’t cover anything new or changed with the latest release.

Previous Updates

Here are all the confirmed releases of Penguin to date:

  • Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)

Why Penguin 2.1 AND Penguin 5?

If us talking about Penguin 5 in reference to something Google is calling Penguin 2.1 hurts your head, believe us, it hurts ours, too. But you can pin that blame back on Google. Here’s why.

When Google started releasing its “Panda” algorithm designed to fight low-quality content, it called the first one simply “Panda.” So when the second came out, people referred to that as “Panda 2.” When the third came out, people called that Panda 3 — causing Google to say that the third release, because it was relatively minor, really only should be called Panda 2.1 — the “point” being used to indicate how much a minor change it was.

Google eventually — and belatedly — indicated that a Panda 3 release happened, causing the numbering to move into Panda 3.0, Panda 3.1 and so on until there had been so many “minor” updates that we having to resort to going further out in decimal places to things like Panda 3.92.

That caused us here at Search Engine Land to decide it would be easier all around if we just numbered any confirmed update sequentially, in order of when they came. No matter how “big” or “small” an update might be, we’d just give it the next number on the list: Penguin 1, Penguin 2, Penguin 3 and so on.

Thanks For The Headache, Google

That worked out fine until Penguin 4, because Google typically didn’t give these updates numbers itself. It just said there was an update, and left it to us or others to attach a number to it.

But when Penguin 4 arrived, Google really wanted to stress that it was using what it deemed to be a major, next-generation change in how Penguin works. So, Google called it Penguin 2, despite all the references to a Penguin 2 already being out there, despite the fact it hadn’t really numbered many of these various updates before.

Today’s update, as can be seen above, has been dubbed Penguin 2.1 — so supposedly, it’s a relatively minor change to the previous Penguin filter that was being used. However, if it’s impacting around 1 percent of queries as Google says, that means it is more significant than what Google might have considered to be similar “minor” updates of Penguin 1.1 and Penguin 1.2.

What Is Penguin Again? And How Do I Deal With It?

For those new to the whole “Penguin” concept, Penguin is a part of Google’s overall search algorithm that periodically looks for sites that are deemed to be spamming Google’s search results but somehow still ranking well. In particular, it goes after sites that may have purchased paid links.

If you were hit by Penguin, you’ll likely know if you see a marked drop in traffic that begins today or tomorrow. To recover, you’ll need to do things like disavow bad links or manually have those removed. Filing a reconsideration request doesn’t help, because Penguin is an automated process. Until it sees that what it considers to be bad has been removed, you don’t recover.

If you were previously hit by Penguin and have taken actions hopefully meant to fix that, today and tomorrow are the days to watch. If you see an improvement in traffic, that’s a sign that you’ve escaped Penguin.

Here are previous articles with more on Penguin recovery and how it and other filters work as part of the ranking system

What About Hummingbird?

If you’re wondering about how Penguin fits into that new Google Hummingbird algorithm  you may have heard about, think of Penguin as a part of Hummingbird, not as a replacement for it.

Hummingbird is like Google’s entire ranking engine, whereas Penguin is like a small part of that engine, a filter that is removed and periodically replaced with what Google considers to be a better filter to help keep out bad stuff.

To understand more about that relationship and Hummingbird in general, see our post below:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Penguin Update | Google: SEO | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Nick Ker

    Silly is having a huge percentage of your incoming links being clearly artificial, using the same couple of keywords, and mostly from sites like findcankersoreremedies, calling it good link diversity – and then trying to blame links to Amazon as the reason the site is falling. Having the same YT, Pin, FB etc links as just about everyone else really doesn’t matter much when the rest of your links are junk.
    I didn’t come here to bust your chops, but if you want to point the finger at the cause of your problems, it isn’t Google or Amazon.

    And really, if you didn’t figure out that using keywords as your commenting “name” is the mark of a spammer by now, I don’t think you have any room to be calling anyone silly.

  • Nick Ker

    Well, what are they doing that violates Google’s guidelines? If you are going to claim something like that, you should be able to at least give a reason why you think Amazon should be punished.

    My mistake on the wrong site, but I would bet that the site in question isn’t much better.

  • vat

    Our website too has been penalized, from the 1st page to the 10+ page. There are a few spamy links though. How can we get our page to good rankings again? Please help! Does disavow help? Will our rankings ever start increasing or we need to start taking some action?

  • setaswall

    Well I hope Google should add some tools to Google Webmaster Tools to recover from this headache updates by google :P

  • Eemes

    Yes i know its a big hit, i can see traffic drops, But the best thing is not to panic. Don’t remove the links which are there already. However you can remove those links which you think are not good or u know them personally, but care must be taken when doing this. Make ur internal pages strong, get them connected to social site like fb. Drive back traffic to your site via Social! Then you can see the affects. Get some authority links back to your website, it can do wonders, but will take some time.

  • Steiner

    Once again Google has messed up big time!
    I have a site that was ranking at #2 for a competitive location based product keyword with the URL: /competitive-keyword/ the page has not a single spammy link, has 1,972 words of good informative content about the location and product. Been at #2 for nearly a year.
    Today that page has disappeared to be replaced by a completely irrelevant product page with 100 words of irrelevant content, no title, URL, H1 or H2 correlation and zero links.
    I am seeing this for a high number of results, complete nonsense once again Google.
    I actually did something last week I haven’t done for 5 years; after 3 ridiculous search query results I actually used Yahoo and got the result I wanted instantly.

  • DhrubaJDeka

    Most funny about such people is that they reverse the old saying, “Expert never claim himself as expert”. :P

  • vikram

    Again punished by the Google…..

  • ACT

    Really? half of you post talks about your “2.1 or 5″ confusion?, the matter doesn’t deserve that. who cares the number, if you want call them for the date or whatever…

  • K2Bsolutions

    Thanks for sharing this useful information ., it really helps on knowing about Google updates .

  • Joshua

    Same here… I saw the exact same scenario on 1 of my sites. At least we are seeing some consistency. Now we just need to troubleshoot the issue that triggered this drop and fix it. I am guessing that the links that were supporting our ranking have been discounted and that is way we are seeing the drop.


    All the emails I have recieved so far point to bad link profiles, press releases and other link related items. It appears distinctively that Google are disregarding all content if the link profile is bad. There also seems to be something similair to the EMD but rather than matching the content they are taking sites where the keyword repetition in the title tags across multiple pages is too frequent.

  • Oliver St.John-Mollusc

    I heard penguins taste quite nice, like a fatty chicken.

  • Oliver St.John-Mollusc

    I heard penguins taste quite nice, like a fatty chicken.

  • Surendra Yadav

    It’s nice to find all
    history of panda and penguin updates. But I Little beet confused here Please
    any one clear me that “Panda” algorithm designed to fight low-quality of
    content or content and links both.

  • vikram

    my website in ranking last 6 month not getting any effected

    Thank you

  • Arun Kumar

    From yesterday, my traffic became 1/10′th of what it was earlier. I am pretty sure that i was hit by one of the updates. I just want to know which update hit me,

    Penguin 2.1 or Penguin 5 ? coz last update was on October 3rd and i got hit on November 1′st. I had gone through the webmaster tools for the sites connecting to me. There was one spammy site and i disavowed it but traffic didn’t picked up. I don’t have any paid back links. Is there anything else i need to check ? Hope to hear your suggestions soon.

  • Krzysztof Furtak

    I see sites with strange links (unnatural/spammy/low quality) went down but websites with good and valuable content went up. Or went up because that “bad websites” went down:D

  • joloshop

    Hi i think I got hit but not until October 28, until than i got good results and on the 28 i had a peek in hits. On the 29th it went down to almost 0!!!!

  • Pooja Desai

    After latest Google updates that previous methods of link building isn’t working like social bookmarking, comment, forum profiles etc. Now I started cleaning up some spammy or low-quality links, I also posted some articles on article posting websites.But I posted duplicate articles in many article posting web site with my site’s links in those articles. now i really don’t know whether should i remove this article or not ? to recover form Google penguin 2.1(May 22, 2013) update.

  • Gilang Gumilar

    i’m still confuse how it comes out and how will impact to my site..but recently its very good to get high content result if we search on google

  • myyouthupdate

    I thing Penguin is one of the most Site effected algorithm but link to high quality does’t effect you ranking. Overall Nice article

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