Google Panda and Penguin updates
Introduced in 2011 and 2012, Penguin and Panda updates are major algorithm changes by Google. Their aim is to improve the quality of organic search results by ensuring that all material shown as result is relevant to user’s query. These shifts have helped Google to identify spams and underperforming websites or web pages which use different tactics to be on top of organic search results thus leaving better and stronger content behind them. These updates rank web pages on the basis of their content and performance of the website apart from other factors such as user statistics and reviews. They are famous for their penalties shaking up the world of SERP. Sites have seen a huge shift in their rank if they got hit by any of these. This article covers an overview of the most important features of both the updates. It talks about people who got victimized by both the updates and ways to survive the attack made by Google.
The Panda update
Panda update was launched to categorize websites into higher and lower qualities. It considered content that was displayed on a webpage. It always focused on digging into content of the website and came up with a list of lowering down features in a website.
The mission of Panda:
Panda update came with an aim to promote high quality sites and demote the underperforming lower quality site. Its purpose was to refine search result and provide users with quality content. Originally called the “Farmer update”, it affected mostly the content farms (content farms are websites with copied material from other sources for the sole purpose of a high ranking in Google search results). All the low quality content farms got shaken heavily with the sweeping that had been started. The original function to push quality content up turned into somewhat a cleaning agent from which all were afraid. Some farms even disappeared from visibility as all their tactics got caught up. Google used its own checks to ensure originality of content on a website. Previously the system preferred websites with higher volume of information on the top results. This made SEOs to advice the client for blogging daily to show their activity on Google. This act frequently landed up in vast number of pages with repeated information, low quality data or copied down summaries of other blogs. The ones who suffered the most were high quality content pages which did not believe in such tactics to get on the top. Panda got an opportunity to all good quality pages to rise. Google frequently refreshes thee update which scans the web pages again to re-order search results.
The latest panda update is Panda 4.1, is a softer less harsh version which is affecting less number of search results. Its main aim is to support smaller website with high quality content. This move of Google to promote high quality content is making smaller and medium sized sites able to compete with the bigger names that were once thought to be unbeatable. This encourages the smaller websites to produce quality content that could win them a place at the top.
How people got affected?
Panda’s hunger for bad quality content and its lust being the high content has shaken up the SERPs quite a bit after its arrival. Traditional methods to stay on top completely failed and those following them had to bear heavy losses. There were people who suffered badly and then those who got less affected by Panda. Rather than looking for quality content, Panda identifies lowering down characteristics in the web pages and ranks accordingly which automatically promotes higher quality content. A summary of key target areas can be collected from the list of questions Google Employee Amit Singhal throws at us in his blog post. He sets a criterion to consider trustworthiness of a website which determines position that the site will achieve in organic search results.
Trust of users: Does the user trust the content on the website? Would he easily provide his credit card details or some personal health information to the site in question?
Thin content: Is the website having a large number of pages with very less content? Google system scans such pages and if you have more of them your rank is destined to lower. Longer detailed content is what is famous now-a-days as it maximizes user’s engagement and prolongs his presence on a website.
Duplicate content: Copied down content gets easily caught up and nears no fruit to the websites owners or content developers. Websites having very similar content repeatedly are also targeted by Panda.
User complaints: Google keeps in view the statistics for like or dislike of a certain page and reviews that have been given. If one cannot satisfy the user, he goes down the lane.
Out dated content: Depending on some high quality content from the past and not bringing innovation in the work makes writers suffer. Old content generally produces less traffic and has fewer chances to appear on natural search results.
Keyword manipulation: The old game of playing with the keywords and repeating them in title as well as the content for the sake of higher rank is now over. All such tactics miserably fail if long term outcomes are considered.
The Penguin update
This update originally rolled out in 2012. It centered spams and unnatural backlinks created to rank higher in organic search results. Like Panda, Penguin was also able to shake the world of ratings on Google. Cheaters were once again suffering loss.
The mission of Penguin:
Penguin aimed at sweeping the search results from pages having unnatural backlinks or other such tactics. Though it has other features to refine the results but its main objective remains unnatural links which have given huge advantages to people.
Penguin was once again a big hit on people using shortcuts to achieve a higher place. Spammers all over the world got shaken up as creating backlinks was a very famous and effective method of improving search result ranking in the past. There was a shift in target from content farms to link farms. All creators of repetitive or unnatural links went down the line and faced Google penalty.
Links work as a strong building factor to a website. Having a backlink from a large website denote success of a content and holds a lot of value. Links from smaller websites also add up to increase the worth of content on a web page. Previously SEOs tried to create as many links as possible to increase position of a website as links were then an important factor in determining order of natural search results. Links still hold an important place but removal of unnecessary backlinks has shortened the number of contenders for a position.
How people got affected?
Spammers could not cheat Penguin as it is quite good in differentiating between a natural and an unnatural link. The only way out of a Penguin hit was to avoid all such links and produce quality content that is capable of dragging audience’s attention and creates links that are natural which add up to strength of a website.
The past practices of creating multiple links from various channels and creating anchor text for personal advantage were helpful to SEOs but Penguin update clearly identified the difference. Having a top rank now shows the trust Google has in a website. Fewer the unnatural links, better is the position occupied by a particular content.
Recovery tips from Penguin and Panda hits
Panda and Penguin are both site wide algorithms. This means that lower quality material caught on a particular page or few pages could affect the ranking of whole website in natural search results. Here are a few tips to recover if you have been stricken by a penguin or panda hit.
Remove thin content:
Thin content clogs the entry of a website into top results. Thin content can be avoided by reducing number of irrelevant pages with useless or low quality repeated information. To take for example a website selling clothes. If the site contains multiple pages for each color and design shift it would result in a high number of less visited pages. This could affect the rank of this particular site in SERP. One way to come out of this difficulty is to avoid making multiple pages and adjust information in fewer pages in an effective way.
Avoid duplicate content:
Having multiple pages with similar content or content that has been copied down from other mediums f information is generally not supported. Duplicity of content should be avoided to gain trust of Google in the website.
Use the Disavow tool:
Disavow tool is an easier manageable way to get rid of unnatural spam created links. It is difficult to find individual links and remove them. This tool by Google makes it easy to identify all such links and disavow them to reduce these unwanted links to the website.
Do justice to anchor text:
Anchor text manipulation is easily caught by Google sensors. It is not acceptable and Penguin algorithm kicks off such pages. One should use relevant anchor text to improve quality of content and not to have a better place in natural search results.
Promote to get promoted:
One easier way of having backlinks is to firstly help others increasing it and building a strong name and reputation by supporting others. This would create a trust and the person would be obliged and thankfully create a backlink for you in his future posts.
Increase quality to maximize engagement:
Writing quality content is an essential to secure a good position in the result. To produce good content one must have first-hand knowledge of what are the most frequently searched queries. Writing on hot topics provides more chances of user engagement. The content should be well structured having no grammatical or spelling errors. The information provided should be beautifully incorporated in the text. Relevancy of content with the topic should be maintained.
Leave no room for errors:
Stay up to date with the latest tricks to produce high quality materials. Do not perform any act such as unnatural link building which is likely to lower your position. Be very well equipped with strategies and implement them effectively to get better outcomes.
Poor formatting can easily distract a user from the text. Content which is formatted well is able to capture more audience and encourages the user to read on.
All content that is put on the website should be relevant to the topic it belongs to. Dragging for the sole purpose of having greater length is a big no.
Don’t bury your head in the sand:
Be aware of all that’s going around you. Stay up-to-date with all new upgrades and master them to be able to use them for your advantage.
Avoid keyword manipulation:
Keyword repetition in the text was an old method of increasing the rank which is not as effective now and should be avoided as it results in lowering of Google’s trust on your website.
Short and sweet information is always liked but don’t be too short to exclude many necessary points in the text. Your content should be long enough that the reader learns something from it. It should not be ere statement of facts which is uninteresting.
Give what users love to read:
Always pick hot and trendy topics to write on. Remember you are not some bestseller author whose every piece of writing would be read and praised. Choose your topics wisely to target the audience.
Make content easy to read and understand:
Use examples and illustrations to explain your view. Where necessary use bullet points or numbering to give a short summary which thee user can read quickly and refer to.
When you have taken all above actions, sit back and wait for the next Penguin and Panda updates so Google is able to detect improvements in your content. For some websites it may take around 3-4 updates to recover from a hit.
Google has further taken a step to improve its results by Hummingbird, a new addition to the Google zoo. Stay connected for more information.