Volumes have been written on Google’s last two major algorithm updates – Panda and Penguin. However, many people have an incorrect understanding of one or both of these, so there’s some misinformation about them. I’ll attempt to summarize what each of these updates accomplish and simplify the explanation in this article.
The Panda update was released in April of 2011, and targets written content or text on webpages, and analyzes entire sites. Panda attempts to determine if a web page (or website) is poor quality by checking certain metrics, and then will apply a “spam flag” to that page or site if it has egregious issues. Panda targeted websites with duplicate content, duplicate page design, thin text (little or no text on pages), highly spun text, and pages with too many outbound links (especially if they are to irrelevant and/or poor quality pages). Basically, if Panda checks pages and websites to see if they have any of these problems, and depending on how extreme it is, or if there are multiple issues, it will apply a “spam flag” to that page and/or site as a whole. I’ll discuss what the spam flag does later on.
The Penguin update was released in April of 2012, and also called the “over-optimization” update. Penguin looks at content on pages specifically related to keywords, and attempts to determine if a web page is trying to over optimize for certain keywords. If a page has repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing), footer and sidebar keywords, and repetitive anchor text, Penguin will apply a “spam flag” to that page. To clarify the point on repetitive anchor text, if you have a page that has 1,000 backlinks with “widgets” as the anchor text, Penguin will give it a penalty for the keyword “widgets” because it sees it as trying to over optimize for that keyword. So, there are two types of Penguin penalties; one is from on-site repetition or keyword stuffing, and the other is from having too many off-site links that are either repetitive anchor text, and/or from spam flagged sites.
There are different schools of thought on what happens to a page that has been spam flagged, however, we have proven that a flagged page will provide less (or no) linking power to other pages, and if a webpage has too many spam flagged sites linking to it, that page will drop as well. It’s important to note that there are potential overlapping issues here too. Let’s say page XYZ is receiving 1,000 links, and 900 of them are spam flagged sites linking with the same anchor text of “widgets” – Penguin will apply a large penalty to XYZ for having both the spam link and anchor text over optimization issues. Now let’s say page XYZ has spun content and a high keyword density for “widgets” (written 40 times). These issues combined will create an even larger penalty for page XYZ. The bottom line is that you do not want sites that are flagged as spam linking to your site.
So what can you do? The first thing is make sure all of the content on your website is unique, relevant, and well written. Make sure you don’t stuff keywords on a page as well, or hide any keywords. Quality content is king! When building links, try to build them from relevant sources with high authority, and vary the anchor text of those links.
When determining link sources, be sure to check the site for the same things you checked your site for – good quality content, relevant content, and few or no ads on the page/site. Assuming the site checks out, the best links will come from a page with as much relevant content as possible. If you want a link for “widgets,” be sure to link it from a page relevant to “widgets.” Remember to vary your anchor text and not build too many links with the exact same anchor text.
If you are struggling to recover from a Panda and/or Penguin hit to your site, you may want to seek professional help from an SEO firm. Here at Submit Digital, we specialize in many platforms, to view a few, visit here.