When most people think of words like panda and penguin they get images of cute animals in their head . The reaction is different among people in the search engine optimization business. Some have positive reactions while others practically start to break down. Those two words can represent big profits and countless hours of work lost in just a matter of days. If you are just getting into SEO you need to know about Google Panda and Penguin and what they represent.
Both terms are codewords for updates to Google’s algorithm. They specifically refer to large changes that significantly affected rankings across the web. Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm and releasing updates on an almost monthly basis but named updates are relatively rare.
The first of these two updates was Google Panda. It was released on February 23rd, 2011. Panda had an impact on around on over a tenth of Google’s total results, which may seem small until you consider the millions of sites on Google. The update targeted what Google saw as low quality sites. Two of the main varieties affected were content farms and sites with thin content. Content farms are sites that accept user submitted content without any regard for quality. These sites sacrificed quality for quantity and Google punished them for that reason. Thin sites took a hit for for similar reasons. A thin site is one with pages that are short and few in number. Google prefers sites with more authority, filled with many in-depth articles rather than just a few short articles that barely skim the surface.
Google Penguin went into effect a little over a year later, on the 24th of April, 2012. Immediately SEO professionals began to notice the difference. The new update targeted what many call black hat SEO techniques. Put simply these are advertising methods that violate Google’s guidelines. Any and all sites that Google saw as attempting to manipulate its ranking system were punished. A prime example of a forbidden technique is keyword stuffing, or filling on page content and meta-tags with keywords. These sorts of methods have nothing to do with user experience, sometimes even making sites harder to use, instead focusing on gaming Google’s system. Another example is duplicated content, used to get extra links out of every piece created for the web. Sites using these and other black hat techniques all took a hit as Penguin was released, with around 3% of sites being affected. Once again, small on a grand scale but the results were still felt in the SEO world as many came to rely on these sort of tricks.
These two updates are just two of the most recent and important changes that Google has made to the way it ranks sites. There have made changes like these throughout Google’s entire history. Those working in the SEO field have always had to adapt to Google’s demands. After all, Google has the highest worldwide share for any search engine. For most people Google is the search engine, not just one out of many. If you want to be relevant you have to go along with what Google wants. Some people still think these updates were unfair but as a whole most sites made it through fine.
The biggest lesson is that true SEO company success must be based on creating great content and promoting it acording to Google’s wishes. Cheap tricks do not create lasting results.. Google is all about promoting the sites that provide the best information and products for their users. No one knows for sure what the next major Google updates will change but we can safely assume that they will punish some sites and promote others in the name of this ideal.