Panda and Penguin – Did Your Website Drop in the Search Engines?

By now most website owners or their webmasters have heard about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. We have touched on this topic lightly in a previous blog or two, but people still have questions.

panda and penguinHere’s an Overview of the Panda and Penguin Updates

Google’s Panda affects the ranking of an entire site or a specific section rather than just the individual pages on a site…

The frequent Panda algorithm updates began in early 2011 (and continue into 2013). Panda is aimed at targeting webspam, and while Google has always targeted webspam, the updates are a further effort to reduce webspam and promote high quality sites.

Google’s aim is to reward websites that utilize “white hat SEO” and whose pages contain original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on. They are penalizing sites that engage in “black hat SEO” tactics such as keyword stuffing, link schemes, or are basically “content farms.”

Link schemes are basically black hat SEO tactics intended to improve web pages’ PageRank rating from Google. Some examples include buying or selling links that pass along some PageRank “juice,” building partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank, and so on.

“Black hat link tactics” are actually a fast track to a lower Page Rank!

Content Farms: According to Wikipedia: ” … a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.” And… “Articles in content farms have been found to contain identical passages across several media sources, leading to questions about the sites placing search engine optimization goals over factual releveance.”

Many, if not most, content farms hope to generate income from advertisers who want to place advertisements on the farm’s site as they expect the site’s pages will attract more eyeballs than other sites.

panda and penguinOne of the Panda updates reduces rankings for sites that don’t make much content available above the fold. According to Google, “This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.”

For websites, “above the fold” refers to content that viewers can see without having to scroll down the page.

In March 2012, Google updated Panda once again and stated that they were implementing an “over-optimization penalty,” in order to level the playing field.

If your site dropped down in the search listings after some of the Panda updates, the only road back up consists of getting rid of any spammy SEO tactics or poor quality content, improving your content by ensuring it is truly relevant to the search terms that bring people to your pages, and make sure you are not stuffing an inordinate amount of keywords – even valid ones – into your content.

“I Don’t Deserve This!”
You may feel that your site didn’t deserve to be dropped in the listings or have it’s PageRank lowered because you are not knowingly using black hat SEO. But perhaps the quality of the content on your site does need improving. Or maybe there’s just not enough of it. Perhaps there is an overabundance of ads or banners or graphics with no “alt” tags in ratio to textual information.  Keep in mind the search engines can only read textual information. So your photos, graphics and videos need some text to explain their “content.”

Or maybe you have some low quality backlinks coming into your site. There are quite a few things that could affect the ranking of a website in the search engines, and its PageRanks as well.

Be sure to also check out our Blog article titled, “Pros and Cons of the Disavowing Link Tool” for information on how to handle poor quality or spammy backlinks to your site.

panda and penguinPenguin
This update was first announced on April 24, 2012 and is aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Basically, it penalizes websites using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings. Some of the black hat SEO tactics mentioned in Google’s announcements concerning Penguin include keyword stuffing, link schemes, cloaking, deliberate creation of duplicate content, etc.

To quote from Wikipedia again, “Cloaking is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser.”

The bottom line concerning all of these changes, updates and tweaks to Google’s algorithm, is that they will reward websites that utilize “white hat” SEO and provide original, relevant content for their visitors, and penalize sites that engage in “black hat” SEO tactics or have little or no original, relevant content for Google’s users.

So make sure your website is providing good, relevant content, and use only white hat SEO. And if your website did take a dive due to one or more of these updates, contact your webmaster, or contact an internet marketing company that you can trust to help get your website back up the search engine ranks. It can be done!

Written by Bob Nelson

Bob is a very experienced Marketing Specialist for both the internet and traditional methods. He is a valuable member of the Results Professional Marketing Company team.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RESULTS PROFESSIONAL MARKETING and a clickable link back to this page.

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