Once Google caught on to shady webmasters and SEOs purchasing links in an effort to manipulate their rankings, it rolled out its “Penguin Update” to penalize black-hat-tactic-using websites. It has been a few years, but along the way Google has refreshed the update a few times in order to allow compliant and repenting webmasters a chance at getting back into the game. With news that a new update was coming out this year, the SEO world was on the edge of its seat waiting for news from the oft-vague search engine giant. Here’s what we know about it:

First, what exactly is the Penguin update?

Google’s webmaster guidelines forbid artificially manipulating your rankings through the building of unnatural links. So if you were spamming search results by buying links or getting them through link networks, then your website was heavily penalized. This slap on the wrist affected approximately 3% of all search queries.

What do updates and refreshes do?

When Google either updates or refreshes Penguin, it gives a chance for those sites that have removed their links using web tools to get rid of their penalties. An update changes the nature of the algorithm itself, either by adding in something new or completely changing how one aspect of it works. A refresh is just a chance for all changes since the inception of the update to take effect. For example, if your site was penalized by the update but your removed all of the links, then your penalty won’t be removed until the update is refreshed.

When is the next one?

Google announced last year that it was coming soon, and few weeks ago the evasive search giant spoke, saying that it was a matter of weeks until the next one rolled out. It has now been a few weeks, so we are waiting on a daily basis to see the changes take shape. One Google exec was quoted as saying it would be within this quarter, so chances are any day now we will see the update roll out. Expect the changes to allow past sinners back into the good graces of Google, and for the parameters of what constitutes black-hat SEO tactics to be expanded.

If there is one constant when it comes to Google’s algorithm, it’s that it is constantly being updated to give users the most relevant results in regards to their query. We know that it won’t stand for black-hat SEO tactics, and it punishes transgressions more harshly as the years go by. Make sure to ready your site for the next update, and stay tuned to see when it actually rolls out.