When owning a website one thing you need to keep in mind is searchengine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO; it is what ensures that visitors are able to find your website when they type relevant keywords and phrases into a search engine. In an attempt to ensure that the websites appearing on the first few pages of search engine results were not full of spam and had actual content, Google released two crucial updates known as Panda and Penguin. If your website’s ratings took a large dip at the time these were released, it is essential to know which one affected you so that you are able to fix the problem and boost your rankings.
Understanding Google Panda
Panda’s goal was to reduce rankings for sites with low-quality content for users. This consists of websites with low-value for the users or with content copied from other sites. It also boosted sites with original and well-researched content. The most notorious websites hit by Panda were content farms that continuously published low-quality content stuffed with keywords. The update penalized the entire site, not just the subpages that had thin content. The original Panda update was released for English speaking countries on April 19th, 2011, and then it was updated on April 27th, 2011.
Understanding Google Penguin
Penguin was released for a different reason than Panda. It specifically targeted what Google deemed as webspam. Any sites that were suspected and found to be in violation of the quality guidelines established by Google experienced a drop in site rankings when the Penguin update rolled out. These tactics included keyword stuffing and placing irrelevant outgoing links in pages of content. Other factors that are suspected of contributing to a site’s drop in rankings as a result of the Penguin update include an overuse of exact-match domains and anchor text or low-quality article and blog spam. The Penguin update was released on April 24th, 2011.
Knowing Which One Affected your Site
It is necessary to know which update penalized you, because each update targeted a different issue. Unless you are an expert from an established Atlanta SEO firm, you may be wasting your time if you attempt to fix issues you believe were penalized by Penguin if you were hit by Panda and vice-versa. Analytics can help you determine which updates directly impacted your traffic. Go into Google Analytics and look at the reporting tool. Change the date range to April 1st through May 15th, 2011. Look at the graphs to see where the dips in traffic occurred. Keep in mind that Panda was implemented on April 19th and updated on the 27th, while Penguin debuted on April 24th.
You can also look at the keywords that were hit by changing the primary dimension in Analytics to keyword. Then set the date range. If, based on the first analysis, you feel you were hit by Penguin; you’ll want the date range to cover from April 24th to May 15th. If you were hit by Panda, select April 19th to May 15th. You will see the increase and decrease in popularity for each keyword now.
Google periodically releases updates to these algorithms, and it is possible for your site to experience a hit at any time. It’s important to be proactive and keep on top of the constant updates to ensure your site doesn’t get hit any harder than it already has from Google’s algorithm changes.