What are Panda and Penguin?
Both are algorithm updates enacted by Google to improve searcher experience. Along with these algorithm updates, however, rankings are often shifted because of changing priorities that Google places on specific factors. This can leave you scrambling to understand what your site might have done wrong, and dealing with a big drop in traffic and conversions due to lower rankings. Let’s break down two of the bigger ones:
The reality is, Google creates tons of algorithm changes many times over any given number of weeks. However, those algorithm changes are most of the time so small that few people notice and few rankings change. Panda, however, took the attention of site owners when it changed around 12% of rankings, total. That’s out of all the Google searches. Panda was designed to try and sift out what it believes might be low-quality site pages.Too many of these low-quality pages, and your whole site gets a beating.Â Things that signal a low quality page:
- content that is solely or nearly all aggregated from other sites
- too many ads/spammy looking ads on your page
- content that looks machine-made or is incredibly low-quality
- incredibly complicated to navigate
Overall, is the page helpful to a user? Â If you are genuinely convinced that it is, you have nothing to worry about.
Another major algorithm update by Google, Penguin targets those webmasters that are attempting to beat the system through seedy practices.
Things that can trigger Penguin’s wrath:
- keyword stuffing
- hidden text
- sneaky linking efforts like paid links, link swaps, link spam
- duplicate content
- too many toxic links pointing at your site
How do I get out of a manual penalty?
If you do get hit with a manual action, you’ll get a message in your Google Webmaster Tools Message Center. Google will go over why you received a manual action, and the reasons for those vary.Â Among them include linking schemes, cloaking and hidden text, spam, “thin content”, or hacked site elements, and other various user experience problems. Once you’ve addressed the problem that Google references, either in-house or by hiring an SEO expert, you can submit a manual actions report for a manual review.
I got offered to pay for links to my site; it is cheap and it seems like a great deal. Should I do it?
Only if you want to regret it later. Google is cracking down on things like paid links because they simply don’t like any action that requires you to keep something from them. That means things like cloaking, spamming, and under-the-table link deals are going to get you into a bad place, no matter how legitimate the deal looks.
How do I prevent bad sites from linking to me?
In most cases, you can’t. Matt Cutts, head of Google webspam, has quoted before “We have done a huge amount of work to try to make sure one person can’t hurt another person”. However, bad link profiles do happen when you don’t remain diligent of it. What you can do is target higher quality links that will make those lower quality links seem like an outlier. Â Also, you can start a negative link campaign that outreaches to the webmasters of those toxic links to your site. If you can get them to remove it, awesome. If you try a few times and you cannot, you can send a disavow report to Google. This disavows this link authority flow to those links.
How much does it cost to SEO a site?
The only answer I can give you for that is it depends on the extent of work you need done on your site. What I can tell you is that if you want to see significant change in traffic and sales, it won’t be free. SEO is one of those things where you get what you pay for. If you hire an SEO that promises $99 services and results in a week, you can expect a lot of spammy and blackhat practices that will get you stuck with a huge manual penalty. I’ve written a great post on matter of hiring a great SEO and finding a budget for your SEO goals featured on Searchengineland here.