So what are they?
Panda was first released into the wild online world in 2011. Its job is to punish sites with poor, spammy content so that they can’t get to the top of Google search rankings.
Penguin came a year later, and it’s more interested in fishing for bad links and spammy search results.
Basically, both of them work to stop poor-quality sites gaining a high rank on Google, instead promoting good-quality, reputable sites with relevant content.
The surprise updates are both good and bad: on the plus side, if you’ve previously been hit by a Panda or Penguin, and you’ve worked to improve your site, the penalties on your rankings can be removed. On the other hand, if your site’s escaped so far with outdated and dubious SEO techniques, it’s more and more likely to be caught – particularly in an ambush in the middle of the Christmas shopping season.
How do I know if I’ve been hit?
If you or your webmaster has noticed a sudden drop in traffic in the last few days, it could be due to a Panda or Penguin update. However, there are also other issues which can lead to a drop in traffic, so you’ll need to have a deep analytical look at your site.
If you think Panda or Penguin is the cause, then you’ll be waiting until the next update to get your rankings back on track. However, the updates come fairly frequently, and you can use the time to make sure your site is as clean as a whistle.
How can I stop my site being hit?
Of course, prevention is the best cure, and Google’s algorithms are not out to punish genuine sites trying to produce good quality content and services. Basically, the same rules apply onlne as in the real world.
To keep Panda happy, your content has to be original work. That doesn’t mean earth-shattering insights, it just not copying content from elsewhere on your site, or from anyone else’s for that matter. You can quote or share small amounts from other people’s sites; just make sure it’s properly referenced, and not passed off as your own. You also need to ensure that your site is polished: no error pages, no loading issues, no intrusive ads.
Penguin likes good links. It wants you connecting with other reputable sites, and seeing your site mentioned elsewhere for genuine reasons. The sites you link to should be relevant to that specific section of content. Basically, links should be the product of respectful, businesslike interactions – think relationship-building, rather than link-building, and Penguin will like you a whole lot more.
If you’re confused or concerned about Google’s animal algorithms, then we can help to make your website a tasty treat for Panda and Penguin, rather than unsavory spam.