In 2012, Google officially launched the “Penguin algorithm update,” which changed the way SEO works, as Google through this algorithm targeted spammy link building tactics.
It was launched as “The Webspam Algorithm” and later Matt Cutts through a tweet shared that they have named the Search Algo “Penguin algorithm”. He was the head of the Google Web Spam team at that time.
Webspam in simple words is a blackhat technique to gain google rankings by building backlinks on other (usually low-quality) web properties.
Minor weather report: We pushed 1st Penguin algo data refresh an hour ago. Affects <0.1% of English searches. Context: http://t.co/ztJiMGMi
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 26, 2012
How do the Penguin Algorithm works?
Whenever a new Penguin update is released, websites that perform manipulative link building tactics may get penalized or pushed down in the search rankings.
Related: On-page Vs Off-page SEO
If the site takes action to remove spammy links through Google disavow links tool or manual action may regain rankings. It’s important to maintain the quality of SEO work if you actually want Google to consider your site as a good site.
In January 2015, Google’s John Mueller said that a Penguin penalty can be removed by simply building quality backlinks
The last update: Penguin 7 (also known as Penguin 4.0) was released on September 23, 2016. This update was different from the last Penguin updates. With this update, Google stopped demoting sites when it finds bad links. Instead, it ignores them rather than punishing sites that use them.