Penguin and Panda – What You Should Know

Penguin and Panda – What You Should Know

Over the past three months, many websites have faced the wrath of Google’s new algorithm updates and subsequently found themselves delisted from top 100 rankings. Both the Panda and Penguin algorithms played a major part in the suffering of thousands of website owners internationally, many of whom are still in a state of abject panic about getting their rankings back.

For many website owners, the effects of the algorithm updates were likely not to be their fault directly. Many placed misguided trust in so-called ‘SEO professionals’ who utilized outmoded techniques and black hat strategies in order to secure rankings for websites which, well lets face it, didn’t really deserve the listings they achieved. While many good quality websites suffered due to putting too much trust in the wrong people, the new updates have left a lot of room for good quality, well optimized and ethical websites to obtain top spots which were previously held by websites which had no right to be up there.

Panda and Penguin focused in on different aspects of negative SEO in order to remove offending websites from the more coveted positions they were holding. Panda, which was refreshed on April 27th, focused on removing and punishing websites with low quality content. Websites which contained duplicate or stolen content were most heavily punished during this algorithm update.

In contrast, Penguin, the Google algorithm most are complaining about, focused most heavily on removing website for unnatural link acquisitions. Sites guilty of buying links, urls which appeal in link wheels and those who routinely acquired massive numbers of links back from other sites via automated submission software found that their artificially inflated results fell substantially to well below the 100 position mark in Google listings.

As I said above, many website owners were not directly to blame for the punishment by Google waged on their websites. Many new clients I’ve spoken to who lost rankings significantly during the algorithm updates were victim to unethical SEO providers. The vast majority of these website owners were hit by the Penguin algorithm for unnatural link building, meaning that they acquired far too many links too quickly, or were subjected to mass amounts of negative links back to their website from link wheel or bad neighborhood websites.

What I find most surprising of all is that mass automated link building and negative inbound links from less than appropriate websites has been frowned upon by Google since at least 2005. During the early part of that year, Google implemented the Sandbox punishment for websites which acquired too many links back too quickly (ie via automated submissions). How do I know this? My first website was created around the time that sandboxing came into effect, and very little information was available at that point about the algorithm change which heavily punished websites for auto-subs. Six months in the sandbox and with zero attempt at link building, my website rebounded to hit top spots all around.

With so much long standing information out there at the disposal of SEO pros and website owners alike, it really is shocking how many people continued to utilize unethical practices far beyond what could be deemed an acceptable point. However, lets face some facts here, SEO is a lucrative business and automated link submissions take moments to complete. People charge through the nose for certain ‘SEO services’, and then spend 5 minutes filling in data to programs like Submit Wolf before hitting a button. Voila, work done and thousands in the bank.

It is my long standing opinion that link building should not be called SEO. It’s not. It’s LINK BUILDING. I have worked on and owned hundreds of websites with which absolutely zero link building has taken place, and I’m yet to not get a massive range of terms within the top 5 in Google, which remain there consistently and regardless of the algorithm update. Build it and they will come, if the content is good enough…and if it is good enough, people will share and back link organically. That’s the key.

So much misinformation remains about the power of link building. Why? Because it’s easy for companies to do this. It requires no skill and no effort. It’s easy money in the bank, and roll on the next poor person who falls victim. Real SEO services take work, skill and dedication. There’s so many aspects to consider and cover in order to help a website achieve its maximum potential, and automated link submission, link wheels and link purchasing does not fit into the scope. It’s time we were honest about this.

One of my newest clients, a nice person who put trust in the wrong person and was hit very hard by Penguin, recently told me that during his interview process for a new SEO person to help clean up the mess, he was told by so many ‘SEO pros’ to “just keep link building”. Have these people been asleep for the past three months, or do they just not care? That does not cut the mustard any more and it’s time people realized that there are far too many people out there offering damaging ‘quick fix’ solutions, when skill and hard work is what it takes.

One thing Penguin and Panda have both taught me is that there are far too many people out there who make claims and cause damage. While I’ve not lost one single ranking for either my own sites, or for my clients during these updates, it’s clear to see the difference between someone who cares about their clients and those who are out to make a quick buck.


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