Google Updates: Panda and Penguin for Dummies

Google Updates Big Red SEOIf you’ve read our blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard us mention these two prominent Google updates – Panda and Penguin. Lackadaisical names aside, these two Google updates have had a massive impact on how SEO works and which websites rank where. Furthermore, understanding what Google was trying to accomplish with Panda and Penguin will help you to understand more about Google’s goals for their search engine in general.

Plus, this is one of those questions that you can ask prospective SEO companies to see if they know their stuff. If an Omaha SEO Company can’t tell you how Panda and Penguin each changed SEO, you should probably stay away.

All About Google Panda

Google Panda was unleashed on the search-world in April 2011. It was one of the largest updates ever, and Google has continued to periodically update Panda since its original release. So, what did Panda do to Google search results? The goal of Panda was to eliminate “thin” websites with poor user experience from search results. “Thin” websites are defined as websites created for the express purpose of making money from one or two specific keywords. Usually they will have domain names like BialettiEspressoMaker.org or PrincessBarbieWithHorseKit.com or something like that. Instead of useful content, their pages are packed with ads and keywords.

To make things worse, webmasters would create hundreds of these ad-stuffed, unhelpful websites. Sometimes thousands. These types of websites, as you can imagine, were starting to clog up search results. Panda put a stop to that. The result of Panda was that websites with lots of advertising lost their rankings virtually overnight. Meanwhile, news websites and social networks stepped into the hole left by all the spam-sites. This was when we started seeing Google News in search results, FYI. March 2012 was the biggest Panda update we’ve seen, and it was aimed at “over-optimization”. Over-optimization is when you try too hard to rank well at the expense of user experience.

All About Google Penguin

Google Penguin was officially rolled out in late April 2012. The stated goal of Google Penguin was to punish “black-hat SEO”. Black-hat SEO had existed for a long time, but this was the first time Google really pushed to eliminate it by directly punishing websites using it. They started looking for “bad links”. They even started sending warnings out to webmasters they thought were guilty of using black-hat SEO tactics. So, what SEO practices fall under the umbrella of black-hat SEO?

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Link cloaking
  • Misleading redirects
  • Paid links
  • Blog networks
  • Scraped content
  • Duplicate on-site content

I’m sure there are a few things I’m forgetting here, but you get the picture. Google wants everyone to play by the rules. You will be punished for Link Building No-No’s.

What are Google’s Future Intentions for SEO?

Keep in mind that while these two updates are certainly the most prominent ones in the past two or three years, they are not the only ones. Believe it or not, Google updates their search algorithm an estimated 400 times per year. But, most of these updates are more like tweaks, affecting only a minuscule amount of search results. If you’d like to learn more about the future of SEO, then check out this article about SEO Trends in 2013 and Beyond. Alternatively, if you’re convinced that we know our stuff about SEO in Omaha, we’d be happy to talk with you about managing your business’ SEO. Please feel free to contact us today! Either way, thanks for reading!

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