Panda & Penguin – Pet or Pest

There are not a lot of significant differences between Panda and Penguin, both complement each other.  However Panda tends to look more toward link farming and Penguin looks at the quality of the links and content. In all it ensures ranking factors result in high-quality sites.  Here is a comical look at how Panda and Penguin work together.

By the way, have you ever wondered where the names Panda and Penguin originated from?.  Well with Panda a great deal of human research was used to assess thousands of websites to try and ascertain several quality control parameters.  These search results were then correlated and an engineer managed to create a robotic algorithm capable of searching for specified parameters to comply with Google’s new algorithm requirements. The name of the engineer responsible was Navneet Panda – hence the name.

Where did Google get the name Penguin for its new algorithm?.  Well, like all computer geeks, Matt Cutts likes comics.  He surmised that as the Penguin from the Batman comics was a tubby man known for his magic umbrellas and spammers were usually tubby guys who hide behind technology to try and fool Google, they were somewhat alike – hence the name Penguin was awarded. Here is a comical look at how Panda and Penguin work together.

PANDAPanda watching your web site

There are vast differences between Panda and previous algorithms. Most of you think that the Google Panda update is a fairly new invention (or intervention if you like), but it’s not.  Panda – affectionately called the “Farmer” – has been around since April 2011 and has had 13 updates to date (August, 2012).

Panda quietly slipped into being in April 2011, receiving very little reaction from webmasters or SEO (search engine optimization) companies.  They saw the small changes and tweaked their method of operation and then carried on.  Very few people even knew that Panda was making changes for over a year before the big hammer descended on April 27th 2012,  then the internet lit up with complaints, articles and assumptions that SEO was dead.

The panic soon died down, but it achieved great results in tidying up the net and ensuring illegal, spammy sites were eradicated. Some SEO companies still continue to be sceptical of the changes and have continued their old methods of operation, particularly in relation to  link building.

The main reason for the panic was the deletion of Link Farming.  Link Farms are hundreds, if not thousands of sites with high page rank containing links to your site to (for a price of course).  All of these links would stick (remain) because the owners of the link farms would ensure it.  In some cases, if you removed your subscription from the link farm, your links would also be removed. Panda see’s this form of linking as unnatural – let’s face it, it’s not squeaky clean is it?. It also gave unfair advantage to people who could afford to purchase these links.  This meant that the top quality sites that Google wanted it’s searchers to find were being beaten down by poor quality sites designed only as sales platforms.

Also frowned upon by Panda is Over Optimization of web sites by Webmasters and SEO companies.  This includes too many keywords being shown in alt text and descriptions and in the articles themselves.  How many times have I literally closed down a site because the keyword was written 12 times in a paragraph and the paragraph made absolutely no sense at all.

Another ploy was to spin articles so they could be dispensed to hundreds of sites, via a robotic program, to gain back links for that particular article.  These articles, in most cases, were woeful and just did not read correctly.

Panda also looked at back links that were obviously bogus.  How many of you purchased 1,000 back links from overseas companies for the princely sum of $5.00?  Fortunately, I didn’t but thousands of sites were penalized when Panda checked on the quality of the links and where they came from which showed a sudden spike of 1,000 links on the same day. A definite no no.

Also, Panda looked at key.word stuffing  For many years this was the done thing, and educators were telling us that we must enter keywords at least once every so many words, sometimes 5% of the article had to be keywords, or you won’t rank. Fortunately this has changed.  We still have keywords and our articles are still ranking well if they include these key words, but only if they are in context with the subject of the article.  This has the added bonus that in high quality articles, Google will find other words that it likes and you may find yourself ranking for unexpected search terms related to the original keyword.

Quality is paramount when writing articles.  Links within the article to interesting sites where further information on your subject can be gleaned, together with internal links to highlight other articles or related pages on your own site, improve the overall enjoyment and education of the searcher and attention must be paid to grammar and spelling. One other notable thing Panda looks for is the alt text.  Ensure you do not duplicate any link here.  Try to link to other sites with high PR rank that contain good quality information on the subject you are writing about.  Also use alt text to link to relevant articles/pages on your own website.

During a conference on SMX West, Vanessa Fox said this about the Panda updates.  The information was taken straight from Google and are their words.

Our recent update is designed to reduce rankings for
low-quality sites, so the key thing for webmasters to do is
make sure their sites are the highest quality possible. We
looked at a variety of signals to detect low quality sites.
Bear in mind that people searching on Google typically
don’t want to see shallow or poorly written content,
content that’s copied from other websites, or information
that are just not that useful. In addition, it’s important for
webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a
site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole. For this reason,
if you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you
should evaluate all the content on your site and do your
best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your
domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a
different domain could help your rankings for the higher
quality content.

PENGUIN

Penguin checking your web sitesThe Google Penguin update graced the world wide web on 24th April, 2012.  The main objective of the Penguin ranking algorithm was to assist  Panda to target sites that used keyword stuffing techniques to boost their back links.

Penguin pays particular attention to anchor text.  You need to diversify your anchor text so that your links are not always using the same key phrase, thus ensuring you don’t get penalized.

The complete link profile of your site is taken into consideration by Penguin.  Ensure you don’t use an internal link to a page on your site that has the same keywords.  Penguin will see this as an unnatural link and will impose a penalty. Ensure that when placing external links into your site they are relevant and of high quality.

Another duty of Penguin is to seek out duplicate copy. When a site steals copies of articles written by someone else (known as scraping)  and includes them on their site, Google may ban that site completely.  Duplication is a practice all good Webmasters hate and should report any duplication to Google.

There are three ways to get back links, these are:

  • White Hat, being totally legal and approved by Google, Panda and Penguin.
  • Grey Hat, which is not totally in line with the approved methods.
  • Black Hat, which in Google’s eyes is cheating and will get your site banned.

The most important page is the first page of your site.  You have only about 6 seconds to grab your visitor’s interest before they decide to move on.  Your front page must be structured to intrigue your visitors and make them want to look deeper into your site to see what’s there.

THERE IS HOPE

Google is attempting to clean up the internet so the surfer gets valuable advice.  Below are some things that you should avoid:

  1. Avoid making automated software submissions to Google
  2. Don’t place too many advertisements on your site and ensure that any products on sale are linked in some way to the site’s niche.
  3. Try not to place any advertisements above the fold.
  4. Do not use hidden text or links – you can’t get away with that now that Penguin is on the prowl.
  5. Steer clear of doorway pages
  6. Make sure your content is original, even when creating similar sites, domains or sub-domains.
  7. Check your article is free of viruses, such as Trojans, Malware etc.
  8. Ensure your articles are free from spelling and grammar mistakes.
  9. Keep an eye on the bounce rate of your site.  If it is high, change the appearance and layout.
  10. When using anchor text, use varied and interesting links, do not over optimize.
  11. Do not stuff your articles full of keywords, write naturally.

Here is a list of positive things you can do to get your site ranking:

  1. Create a blog on your site.  This will possibly not get much attention at first, but it makes the surfers visit to your site more rewarding.
  2. Join Blog sites such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com, where you can create your own blog on a site that has a huge ranking of PR9.  Be warned though, they will only accept top quality material (do not use spun articles).  Ensure your chosen keywords are included in the articles you submit. Make sure that the articles you submit are different for each site.
  3. Write as a guest blogger for blogging sites that have high quality articles with plenty of readers.  Ask Google to list blog sites that allow guest blog posts, they are most helpful here.
  4. Include Video to your site.  Submit your video to all the top ranking video publication sites, such as You Tube and Daily Motion.  Be wary of no follow sites which won’t get you ranking in Google for anything.  You Tube has a whopping PR9 ranking, so well worth the effort.  Again Google the question “Where Do  I Find Top Video Hosting Sites?”.
  5. Social media.  Not mentioned before, because this is a very special form of linking that requires specialist care.  Facebook, Twitter etc.  Facebook is particularly good as it allows videos, comments, fans, likes (similar to links) and a whole heap more.  Google likes social links as they are usually genuine and of great interest to readers.
  6. Creating articles for Squidoo is a good idea.  This used to be massively utilized years ago and went through a small slump, but has now re-emerged as an authority site now that the link farms have exited.  Hubpages is also a good article site, however, they are particularly picky when it comes to the commercialization of your site – they will check your site and if they don’t like it (too commercial) they will ban your article.  Ezine Articles are still a worthwhile avenue to creating links with your articles as well.
  7. Get involved with Yahoo Answers.  People appreciate receiving interesting and correct answers to their problems.  Include links back to your site in your answers.
  8. Content Sharing Sites.  i.e. Mediafire or Scribd are two of the highest ranking sites to link to.  You put your PDF articles (containing your keywords) and people link to and read them constantly.  Ask Google for a list of “Content Sharing Sites”.
  9. When creating an article or PDF document try to ensure your links are contextual (your link to your site is within the content of the article/document) some sites won’t allow this, but keep in mind their page ranking and use your own judgment as to whether they are worth linking from.
Here is a video by Matt Cutts from Google about how to make a quality web site:

So there you are, two Google algorithms that have revolutionized the internet and given SEO companies and Webmasters a lot more work to do, but with the aim of a better outcome for all concerned.