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Google Panda And Penguin: A Survival Guide
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Google Panda And Penguin: A Survival Guide

The internet is a place which evolves at a dizzying rate and survival of the fittest is definitely the name of the game in SEO and search engine marketing. Google seems to have taken this analogy to heart, naming the latest Google algorithm updates after animals, most famously Panda and Penguin, the major updates to Google’s algorithm in the last two years.

Both Panda and Penguin were designed with the same goal in mind: reducing the page rank of low quality sites, while improving the rank of sites which offer higher quality content to web users. However, the similarities largely end there, with Google Panda and Penguin being two very different kinds of updates.


One feature of Panda which distinguishes it from other Google algorithm updates is that it’s not just individual pages on a site which are rated in terms of quality, but entire sites (or in some cases, sections of sites). What this means for webmasters is that a site which has enough pages consisting of poor content, the entire site may be penalized with a lower rank in search results.

The kind of content which was given a boost in search results by the Panda update is original, unique content, particularly well-researched information or well-written analysis; and automatically generated or non-unique content was penalized by this update. Sites hoping to improve their search engine ranking in the wake of the Panda update should start by removing low quality content. Even a few pages of content which lacks any real value can lead to the entire site’s page rank suffering, regardless of the quality of the rest of the site.

Essentially, the purpose of Panda is to penalize duplicate content, redundant content and anything else which offers little to no value to web users. The Panda update was largely intended to reduce the page rank of content mills; sites which consist largely of low quality articles with a high density of popular keywords – sites which exist solely to drive traffic and build back links, in other words. One of the other intended purposes of Panda was to keep websites using duplicate content from outranking the original publisher of the copied content.


This Google algorithm update has a different goal in mind – to push webspam out of top positions in search results in favor of sites with high quality content. The update penalizes websites which are in violation of Google’s webmaster quality guidelines, including sites which use keyword stuffing, spam anchor text, cloak links and keywords and use purchased links. It also targets some less well known webspamming techniques, such as adding irrelevant outgoing links into page content.

Google hasn’t been entirely transparent about just what Penguin looks for or how it determines whether sites are violating Google’s standards. What they have said is that it targets sites which do “much more than white hat SEO” and that Google perceives as using webspam methods to artificially inflate their search engine ranking.

If your site has had trouble since Penguin was rolled out, the first step is to remove low quality links and undo any keyword stuffing your site may be engaging in. Anything that could be seen as black hat SEO exposes your site to the risk of being penalized and should be remedied, in other words. Usually, Google will give you a chance to fix any issues it finds with your site by notifying you through your Webmaster Tools account. Check this regularly and take action immediately to fix any issues you find there and you should be able to protect your site’s search rank.

Evolve or Perish

Google Panda and Penguin are updates to the company’s search algorithm and webmasters should keep in mind that the penalties that they impose are automatic. You’re not being penalized by capricious Google employees who have singled out your site, so it’s not going to help you to plead your case to the company. You’ll have to fix your site’s problems and then wait until your site is recrawled before you’ll start to see your search engine ranking starting to recover. While Panda and Penguin problems are fixable, it’s best to avoid running afoul of these Google algorithm updates in the first place. Things move fast on the web and if you don’t want to be left behind, the last thing you need is to be sidelined by the world’s most popular search engine.

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