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The Panda & Penguin Battle: What Are the Google Algorithm Updates and How Can I Keep Up?

Posted on July 9, 2013   |   

If search engine optimization is a part of your marketing initiative, you’ve probably heard of the Penguin and Panda updates. While their titles are deceptively adorable, these names represent the two newest and most advanced search engine algorithms created by Google, and they are not as black and white as you would think.

Google Penguin Update - SEOThese algorithms crawl and analyze your site based on a few factors including geographic location, relevance of content and keywords, visitor engagement and the quality of backlinks. It will then take each individual search engine inquiry, decide which websites have the most accurate and trustworthy information, and place those on the first page.

If you are unfamiliar with the algorithms and what they do, here are a few of the basics:

Google Penguin: If another website (site B) links to your site (site A), this tells Google that site B trusts you enough to share your information with its followers, acting as a vote of confidence in your favor. Google Penguin will evaluate your backlinks, and if you have too many that look like spam, your site does not look trustworthy enough to rank. Example: If ESPN.com links to your site, that vote is worth a whole lot more than if bobsblog–isamazing.com links to you. If your site has a lot of low-quality backlinks, it doesn’t look organic and you can be penalized for trying to cheat the system.

Google Panda Update - SEOGoogle Panda: While the most important aspect about your website is the content, you can’t forget about your visitors. Google has evolved its algorithms to evaluate a site as a human would. Does it provide valuable information? Is it easy to navigate? Are people leaving too soon? Google Panda looks at the entire experience to decide whether your site is something people find value in and want to engage with.

This all goes back to Google’s main goal: provide infinite knowledge at the click of a button. I imagine Google has settled many a bet throughout its time, but how does it know the right answer? At their core, search engines are just a piece of software and the algorithms are what make them tick. To get the most accurate information, Google must sift through millions of websites but we don’t see the gears turning behind the scenes, looking for the best, most relevant answer to our questions.

We are already used to Google’s instantaneous results, but they’re the kid in the front of the class, and they can always do better. The high expectations they have set for themselves, has put a lot of pressure on webmasters. Every day, Google is working toward a smarter analysis of each site to encourage better, more user-friendly interfaces. They are very active in updating their algorithms and are motivated to improve search results.

They want to make it as easy for us as possible (how nice of them!), but this tends to favor well-established brands over small or new companies. Be intentional about what you put on your website, and who you link to, but always put your visitors first.