There are many animals humans are terrified of, and rightly so, since many of them have the ability to kill, maim or devour. However, for webmasters there are only two furred and feathered beasts to be wary of, the penguin and the panda. The ones from Google, not the ones you’ll find in a zoo.
Google Panda is an alteration to Google’s search results ranking algorithm, and was first used in February 2011. Its aim was to lower the search ranking of sites which Google believed had lower quality content: the changes affected nearly 12% of all search results, with sites heavy on advertising and poor quality content seeing drops in their rankings. Google helpfully provided a list of 23 bullet points to help webmasters recover from any drop. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Spam, advises that sites steer clear of duplicate content, and added that content that was too general and nonspecific could also lose out in search rankings.
Google Penguin, which first appeared a year later, in April 2012, was an algorithm update that is used to seek out websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. Sites that artificially manipulate search rankings by adding too many links to specific sites are penalised. Few sites were caught out because they only had a few keyword linking sites, but the rest of their content was deemed acceptable.
With Google updating their search algorithms at a scary rate, it’s good to be prepared. Have a look at Algaroo, SERPmetrics, SERP.com and Mozcast, which keep an eye on Googles changing algorithms. And remember, keep your content focused, clear and original. Then you’ll have nothing to fear from your black and white friends.