It started in April of 2012. It is an updated version of the program that catches spammy links. These are the sites that are deemed to be low-quality. People behind these links generally buy up these links in bulk. These links try to boost the rankings for specific search engines, but they do it in a bad way.
What everyone needs to know about the Google Penguin 4.0 update
Those of you who live and breathe SEO need to be aware of a few things. This Google Penguin 4.0 update has changed the way Google rankings work and are seen.
1) This is where spam lives and dies. It began in 2012. It rolled out another version in October of 2014. Any site that is seen as spammy is put here. Some sites can get put here by accident. It has been known to happen. Most of the time, sites are put here for a reason.
2) This happens in real time. This is a good thing. Say you have a site that is put here. You will get instant notification of it. This way you can make the necessary changes.
3) It is going to hit specific pages and links. It will not hit the whole thing in one swoop. This is good news for Google users. Some pages will be okay. Some will not be okay. Penguin works on a granular scale.
4) No one is going to escape this update or the Penguin. It is going to hit you, no matter what country you live.
5) It is associated with the algorithms now. This has never happened before. They used to be two separate things. It can affect more than 200 things at one time. Any site that is associated with spam is going to be affected in some way. There is no way to get around it.
6) The Penguin will not give out announcements anymore. This is part of the algorithm association. It explains the association with real-time technology. Users used to get some sort of notification through an email in the past. This will not happen anymore. You will know right away once your site has been hit.
7) Not every data center is equipped right now. This is the one thing that is lacking with this. This is considered by many to be a major drawback. Some data center get notifications right away. Others may have to wait awhile.
It is getting updated as we speak.
8) There is a lack of fingerprints. Some pages may be refreshed and compromised due to the Penguin. It may be attributed to other issues. This is the beauty of the Penguin 4.0 update. It happens in real-time. You will get hit without any kind of trace. The Penguin 4.0 update is this good.
Make note that the old rules will still apply. The Penguin 4.0 update is like an old car with a new paint job. For more information, check out this detailed guide to the Penguin update from a well-known SEO expert.