Search engine optimization or SEO refers to the process of making your website more search-engine friendly, so it appears on the top for online searchers.

There are plenty of ways to optimize your website for search engines. However, not all SEO is equally good.

There are certain optimization methods that end up doing more harm than good. Moreover, there are also several SEO techniques that used to work perfectly fine just a few years ago, but they aren’t the best SEO practices anymore.

The SEO world is constantly changing and evolving. It’s very dynamic.

What works one day may not work a year later. However, the core concept remains the same, i.e., you need to create a website that provides users with the very best content and user experience.

However, since specific SEO techniques can be complicated — and some may work and some don’t — SEO professionals and online business owners are almost always somewhat confused.

This confusion can be resolved by understanding the major Google algorithms.

Google’s search engine ranking algorithm has undergone several changes. Google has introduced several algorithm updates, such as Google Panda and Google Penguin.

Keeping track of all of them — and what is recommended based on these algorithms — can be a tricky job. However, Google expects you to always abide by the rules and standards that these Google algorithm updates set.

Otherwise, because of the SEO mistakes you make, your website may end up getting a penalty.

In this blog post, we are going to discuss the two major Google algorithm updates, so you can understand what they’re about, what triggers Google Panda and Google Penguin, and which SEO mistakes you need to avoid in order to stay safe.

Let’s begin.

1. Google Panda

Google Panda is one of the most renowned Google algorithm updates, and it is also the most likely one to hit your website.

Since Google Panda specifically deals with content and on-page optimization issues, most websites nowadays are hit by it.

There is a severe scarcity of high-quality content — which is a big reason why so many websites get penalized by Google Panda. Moreover, new on-page search engine optimization techniques are constantly being added by Google, which makes it all the more difficult for website owners to keep track of everything.

In summary, if you have high-quality content on your site, and if you are following the best on-page SEO practices, you should be safe from Google Panda.

Let’s discuss in detail what triggers the Google Panda algorithm update:

i) Duplicate text

One of the biggest reasons why Google Panda penalizes a website is because of “duplicate content”.

Duplicate content could be of two types:

  • Content that you have blatantly plagiarized from some other website.
  • Poorly rewritten content from another website.

It is okay to reuse small portions of text if you are quoting a website or a person with inverted commas, but passing entire blog posts as your original work will not do.

ii) Thin content

Apart from duplicate content, Google Panda also penalizes “thin content”.

It is important to remember that “thin” content is not just measured by its word count. Thin content is primarily measured by its usefulness to its readers. Other factors such as relevance, trust, etc. also play a part.

In short, if your answer clearly and explicitly answers the query, it should be fine.

iii) Unhelpful content

You’d be surprised to see how many content creators try to trick their audience as well as search crawlers with unhelpful content or misleading titles.

Content with click-bait titles that don’t provide any value to the user also experiences the wrath of Google Panda.

iv) Low-quality content

If your content is poorly formatted and full of grammatical errors, readers are not likely to have a very good experience. Google Panda also penalizes such websites that offer a poor user experience via low-quality content.

Recovering from Google Panda

If you are ever hit by Google Panda, the best way to recover from the penalty is to take a good, hard look at your content strategy.

Rethink what type of content you’re creating, how well you are writing each piece, and whether or not readers find it useful.

Publish stuff that you can be proud of.

2. Google Penguin

Other than Google Panda, Google Penguin is the other big algorithm update that is likely to hit you.

Unlike Google Panda which deals with on-page optimization, Google Penguin deals with off-page optimization and backlinks.

Many SEO professionals and e-business owners believe that all backlinks are good, but that’s not the case. While good backlinks add a lot of value to your website, poor backlinks do a lot of damage to your link profile and SEO success.

Let’s see what triggers Google Penguin.

i) Irrelevant links

One of the biggest reasons why Google Penguin attacks a website is because of irrelevant links.

For example, if you have a website in the pet grooming niche and the majority of your backlinks are coming from a casino-related website, it doesn’t appear relevant or contextual to Google Penguin.

Contextual and relevant links are important to have a healthy and natural link profile. And while you can’t always control who creates a link to your website, you can get rid of irrelevant and non-contextual backlinks to keep your link profile healthy.

ii) Buying links

Buying links is a big no-no. It’s a violation of Google’s policies and will land you in hot water sooner than you think.

iii) A lack of diversity in anchor text

The text you use when creating links (anchor text) to your web pages is another important factor that Google Penguin considers.

Here is the basic concept.

The anchor text — just like your link profile — must appear natural. However, if you are forcing a particular keyword or keyword phrase, its ratio would be much higher than other anchor text phrases.

This may trigger Google Penguin.

Ideally, it should be a nice balance between topical matches, branded keywords, domain name, and naked URLs as anchor text.

Diversification is important.

iv) Over-optimization of certain keywords

Although keyword stuffing is mainly Google Panda’s area of concern, Google Penguin also monitors websites that over-optimize certain keywords.

Even if Google Panda misses your keyword stuffing, Google Penguin will catch you. Therefore, it is extremely important to avoid over-optimization of keywords and keyword phrases.

If you want to rank for a certain keyword, just produce the best possible piece of content on that topic and promote it. It should be enough. Keyword stuffing is never the answer.

Recovering from Google Penguin

If you are hit by Google Penguin, chances are that you have a poor backlink profile. Therefore, to recover from the penalty, you will have to clean the house.

Identify the poor, low-quality, and contextually irrelevant backlinks that your website has and remove them. Disavow links that are not doing you any favors.

Moreover, also take a look at the anchor text diversification and see if it requires any changes.

Don’t forget to use our free SEO Site Checkup Toolbox to analyze your backlink profile.