What do pandas and penguins have to do with my website?
Although Panda updates have been around for nearly 2 years, Penguin just joined the Google family in April 2012 and many website operators are still confused with regards to the difference between the two, as well as the specific implications of each. Here's the breakdown:
- Panda Updates - The role of Panda is to target lower quality webpages that aren't necessarily spam. These penalties are assigned to pages with "thin content" that is stuffed with keywords (and often submitted to multiple sources) but offer no real value for readers. If enough of your site's pages become flagged for poor content quality, your whole website could be at risk of a Panda penalty.
- Penguin Updates - Penguin is an algorithm developed by Google to target spam. These types of sites are flagged for both obvious Black Hat SEO tactics and also some less obvious White Hat SEO tactics intended to manipulate SEO rankings, from keyword stuffing to using links incorporating irrelevant outgoing links.
Pages with keyword-loaded content that doesn't actually benefit its readers should take actions to recover from the Panda penalty by improving the quality of their content. If you have been outsourcing your content, you should consider switching to a more reputable company. Keep in mind that Google doesn't continuously re-scan penalized pages for positive changes; you may need to wait until your site is re-crawled for the improvements to be noticed.
Penguin penalties may actually give you the most trouble. If your traffic loss occurred between April 24th and 25th, you were probably flagged by Penguin. Unfortunately, Google hasn't outlined the exact signals that Penguin zeros in on, though there is quite some industry speculation about which tactics are most likely in their crosshairs. Be sure to check your page for keyword overloading in internal/outgoing links, overuse of exact-match domains, and aggressive exact-match anchor text.
How can I avoid future penalties?
The best way to avoid Panda and Penguin penalties is to supply your site with high quality content that is completely original and is relevant to your readers and to avoid excessive keyword usage or unnatural SEO keyword linking strategies. Review the extensive amount of SEO information posted on industry sites for further tips on how to avoid or recover from penalties; or avoid the hassle altogether by enlisting the help of SEO expert services.