Google Penguin and Google Panda Penalty - What's That?

Google Panda and Google Penguin
As we all know, Google is a pioneer, and the world leader in internet search. It owns around 2/3rd (66%) of the shares in the industry at the time of this writing, making it bigger than any other internet company. It has been around for quite some time now, and has been updating its search functionality regularly. Since the past few years though, we have seen some radical changes in its search model. For example, it was only last year that the dreaded Panda update was unleashed onto the world! And these days, everyone is talking about the new Penguin update that rolled out just a few days back. Head of Google's web-spam team, Matt Cutts tweeted a picture of a stuffed penguin along with a stuffed panda. How cute :). Or is it?
Some people would agree. But many will say quite the contrary. These animals are supposed to give out a friendly image about the updates. They are monsters in disguise though! Many websites have been punished and penalized by these two. So what actually are they all about? And how do they effect websites?
Penguin and Panda Series
Part1: Google Penguin and Google Panda Penalty - What's that?

So why are these updates needed?

If this is about any one thing, it's about Quality Content vs Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The concept of SEO has evolved ever since search engines like Google have come along. SEO is good. It allows you to take your website ranking to a higher level. But that's precisely where the problem lies. You see, it provides a shortcut where you can skip writing quality content, and still be able to take the low quality content to a high ranking. In late 90s and early 2000s, when Google was still newborn, some webmasters started doing just that. They would spare themselves the trouble of writing good quality content, and would learn SEO tricks instead, which brought their poor quality content to the top.

Through he years, search engine optimizers kept at it. Google has been constantly improving its search module, but these people learned to duck and dodge everything Google had to throw at them. Fundamentally, this practice defeats the basic goal of Google, which is to provide good quality content to readers, instead of bogus websites that spam the web and gain the high ground in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Hence, the need for an advanced screening mechanism which would let quality through but not spam content.

Google's spam filter

Although Google has been implementing such a filter throughout the past few years, it only rolls out major algorithm updates once a year. Google Panda was just such an update last year. And may I say, it was the deadliest update yet. The major update for this year is the Google Penguin update, and it looks relatively less harmful than Panda, although it still has effected a lot of websites. So basically, these updates are aimed at promoting quality and filtering out spam.

Google Panda

Google unleashed the Panda on Feb 24 2011. And immediately, it made its mark and hit so many blogs and websites that the entire ranking structure was shaken, with new websites coming at the top while some old established websites dipping down. According to Google, it was aimed at filtering "thin or low quality content". Since its launch, Google have made changes to it 13 times as of 20th April 2012. And a total of 12% websites have been effected by this update.

Google panda

Google Penguin

Google Penguin is another installment in Google's arsenal of weapons to be unloaded onto the online world. This was introduced on 24th April 2012. Again, it aimed at discouraging / punishing spam websites. By far, it has effected about 3% of the websites. Prior to its release, Google said;
In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at web spam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted web spam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.
Google Penguin

Panda and Penguin penalty

Once again, these updates are aimed at punishing spam websites, although there could be a lot more reasons for the updates to hit your site. Sites that are hit have seen a demotion in their Google PageRank, and their traffic has dipped, while sites that have benefited from this update have seen a soar in their traffic. The saying "One man's gain is another man's loss" never seemed more appropriate.

Why have you been effected?

There can be many reasons why you got hit. But the exact factors are known only to Google insiders. Google doesn't disclose this information, because if they do, search engine optimizers would grab on to those points and cheat Google once again. So Google does not give out the precise details, thank you very much. Here are, however, some probable causes as to why you took a hit.
  • Over optimization - This is very important. People who don't have quality content over optimize their websites. So you should do what is necessary, and no more!
  • High keyword density - This is like calling out loud to search engines; "check me! check me! I have the most keywords!". And they don't like it when you call them. Using excessive keywords is also a form of spamming, since you are seeking for search engines' attention. In the past, pages were ranked according to the number of keywords they had. Not anymore though. Always keep that in mind.
  • Virus and malware - People simply hate it when they land on a website infected with a virus. And so does Google. Having a virus on your site, or even having too many spam or bot scripts can trigger the alarm bells for Google. Please review your website regularly from now on.
  • Lack of user experience - Now this is very crucial, and Google has been stressing on this a lot lately. Pleasing the search engine is one thing. Pleasing the visitors is another. Even with adequate SEO, a website that lacks a good user experience might have been hit by Google.
  • Duplicate / copied content - Yeah you think you are making things easier for yourself when copying content, but actually, you aren't. In fact, quite the contrary, you are axing your own feet. Google hates it when it finds duplicate content on your website. Never copy from another source, and never use redundant content.
  • High Bounce Rate - Make sure to reduce the number of banners and other heavy graphics as much as possible to make sure your site loads faster. Slow loading blogs are hated by visitors and so by Google. Do not reduce the size of the page so much that it may begin looking dull and grey. Be creative yet smart!
Watch this video from SEOmoz for even better understanding:

These were some of the tips we had for you. This is the first post in a series that looks into these updates from Google in more detail. We will discuss reasons for failure (in more detail), how to avoid them, and best practices. We also hope to prepare you for the next major Google update. So stay tuned, and give us your feedback in the comment section below. Peace :)

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  1. Again, it just goes back to having good content! Thanks

  2. I have One Tip:
    Be Honest Be Unique Be Special Write Good and You will Avoid These Cutie Pandas and Penguins

    Nice Post BRO :)

  3. Thanks ... I will be careful now buy these ...

    Tell me please .. how bounce rate effect your blog's SEO.

  4. Hey Qasim bro ... i've submitted a guest post using Contact page ... Can you please check that out ? :)

  5. well written Qasim, I would like to know ,which is appropriate size for page load ,I have seen that you page is of more than 2 MB and mine is just 1MB but it seems your page load faster .

    Pls give us tip

    whether page size is important or page load time is important? if both then which is most?

    Further , will you please give us the idea what should be the ideal page size ,or ideal page load time ,some rough estimate

  6. Nice article. liked analysis on what could be the reasons for google penguin to affect you; but google does it with a bot or crawler and it advises to check the website content on text browser to get the picture of how they will be interpreted by the google crawler. So how its able to think about "lack of user experience" remains the mystery though! what you think?

  7. Sorry out off topic..
    How to upload custom template in New Blogger UI ??
    Thanks before.

  8. My Page rank drop from 3 to 2 very sad may be these were the reasons!

  9. Help With Bounce Rate

    This answer is pretty complicated. Google robots love crawling sites that load faster. A webpage can not be smushed too much in size just to make it load fast i.e. within 10-20 seconds. Competition is increasing and people now prefer visiting sites that offer good user interface and quality content. Readership suffers largely if the site design isn't attractive. If you are looking to keep load time low and at the same time do not want to compromise your site's design and appearance then below are some requirements that will keep you safe:

    Maximum Page Load Time: 20 seconds ( takes 33 seconds!)

    Max Page Size : less than 2MB

    Remember that a blog's trafic depends largely on its content, rest everything else has secondary priority. So if your Average Post word limit is above 700 then you can expect a consistent flow of traffic and expect to be safe from all such Google penalities. The aim of these penalties is only to let bloggers realize that they must offer High quality, unique and first heard Rich TEXT to Google.

    Text should be given more preference than graphics or other media. robots can only see what you write, they can't read images and videos unless tagged and captionized respectively.

    The simplest rule of thumb is : Make your articles pesentable to both readers and robots and stop spamming Google. Peace and blessings pals. :)

  10. Thanks Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai ,

    For reply about page load and page size

    Off topic I want to thanks for your Facebook pop-up widget given at this link

    Now face book like are increasing 100-150 per day for last three days

    Thanks one again

  11. My Blogger Plugins has to take care about

    High Bounce Rate - Make sure to reduce the number of banners and other heavy graphics as much as possible to make sure your site loads faster. Slow loading blogs are hated by visitors and so by Google. Do not reduce the size of the page so much that it may begin looking dull and grey. Be creative yet smart!

    This is my opinion, its up to you what you choose :)

  12. hey.thanks for the tips about google penguin and google really helps.i never know it may affect a site that bad.

  13. Hey Guys Iam new to this world of seo
    Bahut bahut shukriya aapka

  14. Nice Article.


  15. Thanks bro i always wondering to read more and learn more great post

  16. why don't you interlink any of your previous blog post with this post as this is the result of precautionary measures taken by you to safe from Google updates

  17. Hi MR / Qasim Zaib

    i would like to thank you about your

    efforts to give us effective useful

    information about Google Penguin . If it's okay with you to add that


    thing you quickly have to do when you discover that your

    website is punished by Google's penguin update is to check google’s


    tool in order to discover the errors to fix them and if you still

    find any errors you can use the file reconsedration request on google’s

    master tool for making google have a second look on your website for


    any new errors on it .

    Thanks a lot and Best regards

  18. Thanking a lot for this tip. I think most people are making duplicate contents and they are hopping much traffic.