As the most popular search engine in the world, everyone is familiar with Google, and has a fairly basic understanding of how it works. You input a keyword or phrase you want to look up, for example, “seo services for real estate”, hit enter, and voila!
A thousand different search results pop up onto your screen, with the very best and most reliable at the top of the list. But how does Google decide which websites deserve to go on top? Everyone who knows and has been on the internet long enough would know that this is because of Google’s ranking algorithms.
But those more familiar with search engine optimization, or SEO, and the inner-workings of Google as a search engine would know that there is a lot that goes into fine-tuning these ranking algorithms. In fact, professional SEO consultants would know more than just what goes into these ranking algorithms. They’d know just how to turn these algorithms to your website’s advantage as well.
Two of the most well-known algorithms SEO consultants have been known to study and employ are Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm.
Here are a few Google algorithm tips to keep in mind with Panda and Penguin:
Google’s Panda Algorithm: Quality over Quantity
Contrary to what you might believe, Google’s Panda algorithm was named after one of its engineers, Navneet Panda, and not the beloved black-and-white bear. But much like a panda bear choosing only to eat the highest quality bamboo shoots, the Panda algorithm was created to filter and reduce the number of low-quality sites at the top of Google’s search results.
It was initially thought that Panda was created to attack “content farms”, websites that would build credibility off of aggregating other sites’ higher quality content, or that Panda was meant to filter backlinking.
Eventually, Google’s Webmaster Central blog posted a guide to Panda, including a checklist of questions that would help determine whether a site was of high quality. Some questions include:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
- Does the article provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Panda was created to filter out sites whose content quality was not high enough. In particular, the Panda algorithm looks out for sites with any of the following: thin content, duplicate content, or low-quality content.
A page is deemed “thin” if it does not contribute to the overall value of the site. While the Panda algorithm doesn’t look out for word count, multiple pages with only a few sentences that are registered into the Google index will drastically lower a site’s quality in the eyes of Panda.
The Panda algorithm also filters out content that copies from other sources on the web, or even from your own site. If Google can tell your content isn’t your own, it will lower the site’s quality. Nearly identical pages on your site may also cause issues.
This is where the questions from Google’s guide to the Panda algorithm come in. While it is important to add content to your index, you must also take into account whether this is content your audience will want to engage with. The questions ask you to take into account what your audience is seeing and create content from that perspective.
While Panda is all about content, it was initially thought to target backlinking in websites. On the contrary, this was addressed shortly after, with the rollout of the Penguin algorithm.
Google’s Penguin Algorithm: Knowing When to Link Up
The Penguin algorithm was in fact named for the animal, and not an engineer with an interesting surname. It was created to filter out websites that had unnatural backlinks from Google’s top search results.
The Importance of Links
Backlinking is a major strategy employed in search engine optimization. Think of a link as a vote for your site, but not all votes are created equal. A link back to your site from a high-ranking site counts as, say, 10 links to your site from lesser-ranking sites.
Prior to the rollout of the Penguin algorithm, the strategy that some SEO consultants used to employ was backlinking as many sites as possible back to their website. With Google constantly updating and employing the Penguin algorithm, those working search engine optimization have had to become more discerning and prudent when employing the backlink technique.
Penguin is simply another way to ensure higher trust in your website, and the websites your site is associated with.
Navigating the ins and outs of Panda and Penguin, as well as the many other algorithms Google has employed on their search engine, can be confusing. Despite that, search engine optimization is an important tool for every website trying to reach an audience.
If you’re trying to navigate Google’s complicated algorithm and employ search engine optimization, we’re here for you.
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