Google Panda – An Overview

User Experience, Quality & Duplicate Content Penalty

On 24th February 2011, the major search engine, Google, released the algorithmic update, “Google Panda”. The Panda algorithm is mainly implemented to separate a high quality, unique content website from a low quality content website to provide a better search result for users. There were sixteen (16) Panda algorithmic updates from February 24, 2011 (Panda 1.0)
till April 27, 2012 (Panda 3.6)

Google Panda Effect – Impact on SEO

A reported 12% of all search results were affected by the Panda, and a flood of frustration and complaints flowed in to Google. Marketers and website owners were critical of the fact that scrapers and copyright infringers were starting to receive higher rankings than the actual websites that posted the original content. Since the release of the Panda, Google has acknowledged these adverse effects on website publishers and has released numerous updates to the algorithm. Google has also posted advisory notifications on their blog in order to increase the quality of publishers’ websites – hence helping to increase their rankings.

The main aim of this Panda algorithm was to lower the rank of low-quality sites, and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.
The Panda update mostly affects websites with the following issues:

  • High percentage of duplicate content on the website
  • Low or no quality inbound links to a page or a website
  • High amount of irrelevant ads on website
  • Thin content on web pages
  • Keyword stuffing on websites

The purpose of the Panda

The change is implemented in order to eliminate ‘low quality’ content, or in other words, spammy content trying to rank in the search engines. Google is specifically trying to eliminate results that are not relevant or not useful because its users have requested it.

The Panda update has affected sites like Mahalo, Ezine articles, Wisegeek and a lot of other websites. Some websites that were affected by Google Panda are listed here:

How to Recover From Google Panda

  • Make sure your site content is original or error free
  • Articles on your site should be original & not duplicated
  • Remove or improve any duplicated content
  • No keyword stuffing
  • Keyword density should not be more than 3-4%
  • Use correct grammar and punctuation
  • Include back links from authoritative sites
  • No excessive ads
  • Build the brand
  • Use social media
  • Update frequently

Google Penguin – An Overview

Over-Optimization and Web Spam Penalty

Google’s latest algorithm update is now officially called Penguin. The update was originally called the Over-Optimization Penalty, then the Webspam Algorithm Update, and now Penguin. Google’s Penguin update came down tough on websites that have been over-optimizing their websites, for the most part on the back linking the front. Hundreds of links from a high page ranking unrelated sites pointing to the same page with the same anchor text will cause you problems in the future. So, check the following points to see if your site has done this.

  • Sploging (Spam blog comments)
  • Linking schemes and links that add no value
  • Using exact match domains as doorways to your main site
  • Using exact match anchor text excessively
  • Keyword stuffing

Penguin Updates & Release Dates

  • Penguin Update 1.0 – April 24th 2012
  • Penguin Update 1.1 – May 25th 2012
  • Penguin Update 1.2 – July 2012

Penguin is the latest algorithm update designed to punish spammers. Google doesn’t like sites to be “over-optimized” as it is a misleading term. Google rewards the White Hats SEO process, and at the same time punishes the Black Hats SEO process. We now call this Google Penguin.

Impact of Penguin in SEO

Google Penguin decreases the search engine rankings of sites that now follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines – i.e. those sites that include Black Hat SEO along the lines of keyword stuffing, cloaking and duplicating content. Link quality is the buzz word of the Google Penguin update.

The SEO community recently published a graph showing that Penguin has had an even bigger impact than Google’s past updates, including the controversial Panda that shook the very foundation of the web in 2011.

Google says the Penguin goal is to help the overall search experience, versus putting legitimate businesses at risk of losing valuable web traffic.
According to the website rankings reports, the Penguin update has about a 3.1% impact on search result rankings.

How to Recover From Penguin

Here are some tips to escape / recover from Google Penguin penalty.

  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links
  • Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects
  • Don’t send automated queries to Google
  • Don’t stuff pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Don’t create multiple pages, sub domains, or domains with substantially the same content
  • Don’t create pages with malicious or spam behaviour, such as phishing or installing viruses, Trojans, or other badware
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

Many webmasters / site owners have been affected by this Penguin update and, as a result, they have signed a petition to roll back this Penguin update from Google.


Google Panda Vs Google Penguin

Panda Update Penguin Update
Targeted at pages that are not high quality Targeted at pages thought to be indulging in Webspam
Panda went after Thin Content. Thin content is basically not enough information on a website page. Content needs to have enough content to engage a visitor and drive them to take action. Penguin primarily went after Link Relevancy and Anchor Text Diversity. Sites engaging in typical Black Hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and sites with unusual linking patterns, were affected.
Panda 1.0 (also known as Farmer Update) is designed to reduce rankings for sites considered low quality (sites which are low-value add for users) in terms of content/information. Basically three types of websites can be included in this – scraper sites, content farms and link farms which spoil the search result quality Penguin is designed to penalize sites that attempt to propel higher rankings by over-doing on-page SEO, engaging in link exchange schemes and building partner pages for the sole purpose of cross-linking, and in so doing, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites.
Panda 1.0 (also known as Farmer Update) affected 12% of search queries Penguin has affected about 3.1% of queries

Many in the SEO community have speculated that some contributing factors to Penguin might be:

  1. Aggressive exact-match anchor text
  2. Overuse of exact-match domains
  3. Low-quality article marketing & blog spam
  4. Keyword stuffing in internal / outbound links

There’s not much difference between the Panda and Penguin updates. Panda was put in action to fight against content scrappers or content farms, and Penguin was to fight against the Webspam. Both major updates from Google have a common goal – to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs.

Here are some tips on how to deal with Google Panda & Penguin updates:

Focus on creating high quality content, updated on a regular basis, that offers value to the reader Don’t create multiple sites with similar content
Work on creating more natural links Avoid many reciprocal link exchanges and link buying
Keep all page-linkings to a minimum, and stop all kinds of hideout link practices Don’t use Doorway/Bridge pages created simply to trick the search engines
Build genuine links, and drive diversity and quantity of traffic for your brands by giving equal importance to – 1) Design and User-Experience and 2) Content/Information Don’t buy links from blogs, creating excessive links to your site with a particular anchor text
Read Google’s Quality Guidelines and use White Hat SEO practices Avoid Black Hat SEO tactics