Most people think of cute animals when they hear the words “Penguin” and “Panda” but for many search engine optimization service providers, these two words are to be feared. Google’s Penguin and Panda are algorithm updates that play separate roles in improving the overall experience of online users.
While algorithm updates should be primarily a concern for companies providing online marketing services, business owners who use SEO services should also know about them. That’s because if your SEO service provider happens to violate Google’s SEO guidelines, these algorithm changes will drastically affect your website’s ranking and your business will suffer the consequences. So before it’s too late, read our guide on the dreaded Google Penguin and Panda updates and what they mean to your business.
Introducing Penguin, the Web Spam Fighter
The Penguin algorithm is targeted at web spam. It was launched in April 2012. Its second version was released just this May, with two other updates in between Penguin 1 and 2.0. “The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines,” says Google’s official announcement. “Next generation” Penguin affected 3.1% of search queries.
Google search spam chief Matt Cutts advised webmasters to build websites that “people will tell their friends about and bookmark,” as opposed to conducting spamming. Web spam is often conducted by SEO providers desperate to get back links. In short, Penguin is about links.
Get to Know Panda, the Crusher of Poor Content
The other algorithm change that shook the SEO industry was Panda, which was designed to target poor quality content, particularly duplicate articles. It was launched in February 2011, with the most recent update rolled out just this July.
“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” says Google’s announcement. At the same time, Panda will also improve the rankings of “high-quality sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.”
What These Updates Mean to Your Business
In the online marketing world, there’s a popular term called “slap” which is when Google penalizes a website for “black hat” methods, or practices that violate its guidelines. Sometimes a penalty can be as “subtle” as a slight drop in rankings. Sometimes it’s as worse as being removed from search results. Regardless of what penalty your site receives, it can lead to a massive drop in traffic and in the overall positive reputation of your website. No traffic means no visitors, no leads, and no sales.
The hard part is recovering from these penalties. You will need to clean up your website, remove spammy backlinks, and so on. And then you will need to reinvest your marketing budget on more SEO efforts, this time hoping that you will not be penalized. Investing in non-compliant SEO service providers, therefore, is not a wise move. Any black hat activity they conduct can result to penalties for your website, and lost opportunities for your business.
How to Tell Compliant SEO from Spammy and Poor SEO
Not all business owners have the technical know-how when it comes to online marketing. That’s why they rely on trusted SEO service providers to take care of their websites and online presence. In essence, they entrust their business to SEO service providers. It is therefore crucial to know if you are indeed entrusting your business to a provider that is compliant with Google’s SEO guidelines and in tune with these search algorithm updates.
Here are some indicators that your provider is up to date with SEO best practices:
Focusing on High Quality and Fresh Content – Content must be written for the target audience and not for search engines. Content must be something of value, something useful to users connecting your business, products or services to them. It is therefore important that your provider makes an effort to understand your business, target market, products and services through consultation and provide a mechanism for regular creation of content.
Building Natural Backlinks – The best way for people to link back to you is to publish high quality content that is engaging and worth sharing.
Using Social Media – A smart SEO service provider uses social media to help spread your content in the digital social sphere. Likes, pluses, shares, tweets, and retweets strengthen your social signal which is important as it is part of the SEO signals that Google detects.
Saying No to Spammy Techniques – Make sure your provider does not involve spamming in their SEO practice. Unnatural or spammy links will get you and your website in trouble. A compliant, high caliber SEO service provider does not do the following:
Massive submission of articles to article submission sites
Massive forum postings
Massive guest postings
All of the above with the same sets of keyword-rich anchor texts
On-Page, Off-Page Optimization – Ensure your SEO provider optimizes not just the content on your site but also your navigation, SEO tags such as the title, description, alt texts; overall site structure. They also optimize (but not over-optimize) content and links placed on external sites such as blogs, press release sites, social media and social sharing sites.
Knows Panda & Penguin Updates – Online marketing services providers must know all about Google’s algorithm updates. If they could not provide consulting about it, then it’s either they’re not yet compliant or worse, they really don’t know about them.
How to Deal with Google Algorithm Updates
Recovering from Panda and Penguin penalties will be difficult and time consuming. But if that happens, you will need a comprehensive website audit report to know what could be the possible causes of the penalties. Bad links need to be removed. Bad content needs to be improved or taken down. Your compliant provider will know what to do.
The best way to deal with algorithm updates still, is prevention. While business owners need not know the technical aspect of SEO, it will help if they can determine whether a provider is up to date with the latest search algorithm changes. All it takes is to ask the provider about the items above. Doing so will give you some idea on whether they are compliant and if you can indeed entrust your website and your business to them.
Our SEO methodologies comply with the latest search algorithm updates, including Google’s Penguin and Panda. We are not into black hat techniques, spammy practices and over optimization of anchor texts. We focus on creating high quality and fresh content, building natural links, uses social media, maximizing Google+ for improved SEO footprint, and conducting on-page and off-page optimization.