Penguin and Panda

If you are a small business owner who finds Google alliterative algorithms Penguin and Panda to be intimidating territory, you’re not alone. You have enough on your hands with running a business and maintaining a website without having to decipher what each Google algorithm update means for your marketing and SEO strategy.

While it’s certainly possible to make a full-time career out of the analysis of these search engine rank determiners, it’s also possible to break it down into manageable and actionable bites. Let’s start with some clarifications:

What is Penguin?
Penguin (3.0), updated as recently as last Friday, is focused on spam fighting, and the overall quality of the links to and from a website.

What is Panda?
Panda (4.1) is aimed at the actual content of the websites themselves. The latest iteration of Panda came on the scene on September 25.

What does this mean for me?
Both Penguin and Panda were put into service in order to help Google ensure that the websites they’re recommending to search engine users are the best possible results. In order to avoid disappointing their users, Google uses Penguin and Panda to help bring the most deserving websites to the top of search results, and push those that have artificially inflated their ranking back down where they belong.

Put more directly, if Google is kind enough to bring you to the party, then you better not embarrass Google while you’re there. Here are the two areas of your own small business website that you can optimize for search in order to make Penguin and Panda work for you:

1. Domain Authority
Because domain authority deals with links, this is Penguin’s purview. The algorithm looks at both the quality and relevance of the sites a website links to, as well as the quality and relevance of the websites that link back, in order to determine the authority of that website. It’s a delicate balance of quality and quantity. Having just a few links to and from authoritative websites is more effective than having dozens of links to and from lower-quality sites (Jonathan Brinksman at Delucchi Plus explains this concept with simple graphics very well if you’re more of a visual learner).

In order to increase your site’s domain authority, you’ll need to do two things: create more outbound links, and get more inbound links. How do you do this? Content, my friend. The more you write, the more opportunities you have to link out. And the more you share what you’ve written, the more opportunities other people have to link back your site. This can mean updating your current website content to include relevant links, or you could consider starting a blog (on your site’s domain) in order to have the opportunity to link out to quality sites on a regular basis. Which brings us to your next opportunity to impress Google:

2. Content Richness
Now we’re moving into Panda’s territory. The algorithm crawls you website looking at the quality, relevance, and richness of the content found there. This ensures that once a search engine user clicks on a result that Google serves, they’ll actually find what they were looking for on that site.

And while the inbound link (links back to your site) requirements we talked about above with Penguin can be somewhat hard for small business owners to control, the content requirements that Panda is looking at are entirely in your own hands as the website owner. Even better news? Panda’s most recent update is intended to be kinder to small and medium websites, in order to help level the playing field with the website behemoths they compete against for search rankings.

In order to take advantage of this new, ‘softer’ Panda, website owners need to look at their content from two angles: richness and specificity. According to MarketingLand’s analysis so far, Panda 4.1 is benefiting sites that have a lot of content about a niche topic, and penalizing sites that have a lot of content about a wide variety of topics. It is also penalizing sites for having “thin content” or not enough content richness. This seems like a good time for a Venn Diagram, doesn’t it:

Venn Diagram on Content

While it should not be news to you that creating relevant, quality content on a regular basis will help you rank higher in search results, the recent Panda update should serve as a reminder, and a reward for good behavior if you’re already doing the right things.

Hey, what about that infographic?
That’s right! We promised you an infographic in the title of this post. Echoing and expanding upon the points we’ve made in this article, here are 10 good things to do on your website and why Google thinks they’re important – courtesy of AudienceBloom:

10 Hidden Gems from Google’s Leaked Quality Rater Guidelines [INFOGRAPHIC]

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog and Google+.

2 Responses

  1. Reply
    Oct 31, 2014 - 09:54 AM

    Agree with all the steps and one more concern, if that matters where to put the cite reference sites in the body or at the footer (like in Wikipedia pages)?

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      Oct 31, 2014 - 11:54 AM

      You’ll want to put the reference cites naturally throughout the body of your page. Linking relevant words and phrases that flow well with your content.

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