The Winners and Losers of Penguin and Panda Algorithm Updates

Google algorithms are formulas used by a search engine to rank domains and to produce search results for its users. Each algorithm is created by Google to achieve a specific goal, but generally speaking all the algorithms are seeking to reward domains that are obeying Google’s quality guidelines and punish those that do not comply with these guidelines.

After an algorithm is launched, those who have been penalized have no early warning or indicator of the punishment. You will know that you have been penalized when your website is nowhere to be found when you search for your top keywords.

Google’s Penguin Update

Google’s Panda & Penguin Updates

Google’s Panda & Penguin Updates

Google’s stated purpose for the Penguin update was to target websites engaging in bad SEO practices. The Penguin algorithm decreased rankings for over-optimized sites that Google believed were violating their existing quality guidelines. The algorithm was meant to catch web spam that was previously slipping through the cracks.

Websites that were negatively affected by penguin suffered a reduction in rankings. These websites had the following common characteristics:

  • Used farms to create low-quality content
  • Engaged in the practice of keyword stuffing
  • Added text links in irrelevant content
  • Used excessive keyword-rich anchor text
  • Over-optimized for a single term
  • Attempted to manipulate search results by using link building schemes coming from low quality sites, sites not with no relevance to the websites.
  • Websites with paid links

Once the misbehaving websites were penalized, this made more room for quality sites to rank higher in the search results. Quality websites saw a great traffic increase after the algorithm was launched.

Google’s Panda Update:

Google’s stated purpose for the Panda update was to make search results more relevant by targeting domains with thin content lacking in any real substance or value to the reader. The panda algorithm focused on the content quality. Its goal was to remove redundant, irrelevant content and spam from Google’s index. The domains hit particularly hard by Panda were those posting content from “content farms,” the use of which, (in the eyes of Google) made their results less relevant.

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how the process of search engine optimization is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and finesse. We cannot predict Google’s actions nor know the details of their algorithms, but we can ensure that we respond to any changes in a prompt and efficient way every time. Sites hurt by the update will need to make significant changes to get back that traffic, and this is where reputable agencies like come in.


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