What You Should Know about Google’s Penguin and Panda Updates

We touched upon Google’s Panda and Penguin updates in the previous lesson. Here, we expand on that and tell you what you need to know about the Google Panda and Google Penguin.

The Google Panda Update

Google Panda was introduced by Google in 2011 and it affected 12% of all the searches that were made. It was the most significant change that Google had made to its algorithm in years. With the Panda update, Google hoped to focus on quality and user-experience. This meant cracking down on sites that had very little content in them, sites that had too many ads and so on.

Google was primarily focused on promoting a better user experience and this meant taking on Black Hats in their own den. Panda made it possible for Google to check for the amount and quality of the content that appears above the fold. If you’re not familiar with the concept of above the fold, “fold” is basically the part of your website which the browser screen cuts off when loaded. Above the fold is anything that appears above it.

What does this mean for you? Well, simple – focus on high quality content and ensure that the content starts as close to the top of your site as possible. So keep your content at the top of the website and don’t clutter it with too many ads or any unnecessary element at the top.

With the Panda update, Google was able to focus on an approach that focused single-mindedly on value creation.  So, sites that rose to the top of its SERPs were usually those that provided relevant and high quality content, i.e., the most value.

We will talk at length on creating value in future lessons, but here’s what you should know – your content will be seen as providing high value when it is well researched, relevant, well written and free from errors.

The Google Penguin Update

Black Hats around the world were already reeling under the impact of Panda, when Google launched an even bigger assault in April 2012, with the Google Penguin update. The Black Hats at this point were trying hard to figure out the direction that Google was taking. And with the Penguin attack, Google introduced penalties for over-optimization.

Many businesses had over-optimized their content for years and this hurt them really bad when the Penguin update came along. Businesses that focused on creating value and better user experience for their customers were left unhurt – in fact, they saw their rankings on Google’s SERPs go up by a major extent.

Ultimately Penguin was less effective than Panda as it affected only 4% of the search results, while Panda affected 12%. But it did attack a lot of internet marketers and online businesses who were over-optimizing out of sheer habit.

So what does over-optimization mean?  It can mean a lot of things that Black Hats and Gray Hats do, such as keyword stuffing, meta-tag stuffing, using invisible text in the content, use of doorway pages and sneaky redirects, using machine translation and article spinning, etc. We will explain each of these malpractices as we go along.

The most important thing that the Penguin update did was to go after shady link building practices, such as creating artificial links to boost a website’s position on the SERPs.  With the Penguin update, Google was able to focus in link quality and link acceleration – so if a site went from 5 links a month to 5000 links the next month, Google knew that there was something fishy going on and took action.

So, with the Penguin and Panda updates Google was able to attack Black Hats who were so far gaming the system. They Black Hats were dealt with a serious blow and this made the Web so much safer and better for the rest of us.

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