Firstly, it is worth knowing that there are two pretty defining Google Core Search Algorithms.
Panda - this is all about your content and making sure that sites with decent, top quality content are at the top of search results.
Penguin - this is all about your links and Black-Hat SEO techniques of old, where 'link schemes' were employed and irrelevant or 'bad' links were created to try and manipulate rankings. Penguin is about decreasing the ranking of sites with links that are in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines (see https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en#3)
The Penguin Algorithm was updated at the end of September with Google stating that Penguin had now gone 'real-time'. This means that any changes to your links will be taken into consideration as they occur, so changes to your Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will be visible much faster and 'typically taking effect shortly after we (Google) recrawl and reindex a page'.
Previously, you may have had to wait months and months to see any improvement once bad links had been disavowed - so this is great for those looking to get out of a penalty.
The Penguin update is also now more 'granular', meaning that spammy practices (links, keyword cramming, etc) are devalued 'by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.'
This means that instead of penalties being applied to entire sites, Penguin will now look more specifically at pages and therefore might only affect a page or sections, while other pages will still rank.
Penguin is now built into the primary algorithm and there won’t be any more updates after this. Google are now rolling out this release of Penguin, so if you see a dip in your ranking, this could very well be why.
It's worth bearing in mind that Google uses more than 200 signals to determine the ranking of a website, and as Google states and we tell our clients, the focus for any 'webmaster' should be to create fantastic, engaging websites. Need a site that does just that? You have come to the right place…