Google is known for regularly tweaking and updating its search algorithm. Most of these changes do not really get the attention of an average user. However, the past few months have witnessed two big updates, whose effects are resonating throughout the online world. These changes have caused web rankings of some legitimate businesses to drop, making users question Google’s algorithms.
Google’s Panda update that went live in April 2011 for the first time targeted sites that were of low quality. Panda is designed to target sites that ‘borrow’ information from other sites without giving any valuable original inputs. The idea was to get rid of ‘content farms’. This gave Panda nickname, the ‘Farmer’ update. Consequentially, webmasters began focusing on increasing the quality of content and reducing duplicate content so that the usability of their sites increased.
The most recent update by Google is called the Penguin update, which was released on the 24th of April 2012. The new update penalizes sites that overuse optimization techniques. The main areas of focus for the new update include over usage of anchor text and off-page optimization.
Although many Google users are supportive of the update as it aims at making the internet a better place for everyone, some people fear that they may accidentally lowering the ranking of some high quality websites.
The importance of knowing
If you are a part of the SEO industry, it is vital to understand that Panda and Penguin aim at two distinct issues. You need to recognize and understand which update affected your site. While Panda targets low quality content, Penguin targets spam in terms of unnatural inbound links. In case you assume you have been hit by Penguin when you haven’t, you will end up removing links unnecessarily. There are a few ways you can figure out which Google update you have been hit by, they are described below.
Launch Google Analytics and check your dates regularly. Look for the traffic on and after specific dates, when Panda and Penguin are rolled out. Always keep in mind the regular trend of visitor numbers. These figures should not be mixed up with the effects of Penguin or Panda. In Google Analytics, you should study the organic reporting. That gives you the option of studying traffic according to keyword or links.
The penguin update affects websites that have many inbound links and filters out most of these as spam. This in turn affects their ranking on Google. Although big businesses may be able to handle these changes and sustain, smaller once get largely effected and need to put in a lot of effort into their SEO strategy.