“Panda” and “Penguin” updates – how to protect your website?

SEO panda and penguin updates

"Panda" and "Penguin" – in the nature both are nice animals but if they visit your website you won’t be happy to welcome them…For those of you who are not familiar with these terms – these are names for updates in Google’s algorithm with goal to rank higher websites with good quality and to decrease spam. These changes are made periodically from Google and they decrease the ranking and traffic of many websites. In this article we will reveal in details what is the difference between them and how you can protect your website.

What aren’t Panda and Penguin?

You have to understand that both Panda and Penguin are not penalties from Google. They are just a change in the ranking algorithm, which is made periodically, and they are different from manual penalty from Google because your website was reported by somebody. If you receive a manual penalty you will receive message about it in Google Webmaster Tools (that’s why it is important for you to create account there) but you won’t receive it for algorithm updates.

panda update SEO

What is Panda update?

The first Panda update was in February 2011. It was named to one of Google’s engineers although it is the same name as of the animal. This update hits mainly websites:

  • with many pages without enough content (1 or less paragraph).
  • websites with low quality content (f.e.: translated using Google translate or copied by other web sites).
  • duplicated content (it happens often when you use different content management systems) – a visitor can go to the same address from different url addresses.

F.e.: Let’s say that we can go to the page www.example.com/page from urls www.example.com/page?en , www.example.com/com_content=page, etc. If the content in these 3 urls is the same, Google will see it as duplicate content.

Advices how to protect your website from Panda?

To protect your website from Panda update:

  • increase the number of your pages with unique content
  • remove your pages with low quality content
  • remove duplicated content in your website using canonical tag or 301 recirect of your pages
  • make unique titles (<title>) and description of your pages

What is Penguin update?


It is first released in April 2012. Penguin update hits websites which:

  • has aggressive link building with the same anchor text (more than 50%…60%).
  • use of exact match domains (IDN) (EMD update).
  • backlink building based on low quality articles (websites) and spam comments in blogs.
  • backlinks from websites unrelated to your topic!
  • websites with fast growing unnatural and similar backlinks like comments, forum signatures, profiles – if the backlinks to your website are increasing very unusual and not gradually – this can be very strange for Google.
  • backlinks from websites with bad virus or spam history like link farms

Advices how to protect your website from Penguin updates?

Problems from the Penguin update are related mainly from lack of diversity and quality of the backlinks to your website.

  • There has to be a balance of backlinks which point to your home page and the internal pages; also you have to have not only dofollow but also nofollow backlinks to your website (if you have only dofollow backlinks to your website this would look very unnatural to Google)
  • it is better to increase the quantity of your natural looking backlinks type URL which are surrounded by text, which contains keywords about your website

f.e.: „about symfony framework you can read at http://cholakovit.com/en/category/simfony/, with detailed instructions.“

  • Backlinks from relevant to your topic websites (comments- forums, blogs)
  • Backlinks from news websites/ relevant articles
  • Backlinks from regional websites (governmental, industrial associations, etc.)
  • Content and links from experts in the niche who has Google+ profile linked with rel="author"
  • IMPORTANT: don’t use 301 redirect to change to a new domain; that won’t remove the consequences from Penguin update!
  • Disavow tools– this tool from Google is very new; it’s aim as said from Google is to remove unwanted links to your website. We can say Disavow tools is the last step to cure a Penguin. It still is not used enough and it cannot guarantee success and it can take according to Maria Moeva from Google up to 6 months to have a result.

Make your website a brand


Many SEO specialists share that websites who have all reasons to be influenced by updates in Google’s algorithm, weren’t because they were brands. F.e. in 2006 Google had removed BMW’s German site from its Web index after the site included "doorway pages" that would automatically redirect visitors to a different URL and it showed different web version to Google. After the German website removed these "doorway pages", their website was immediately indexed again which is not done usually for any other website. This is showing that Google prefers brands and make some compromises to them.

How can we know what caused low organic search traffic to our website?

The first thing that you will see is that the traffic to your website has decreased by some date. See if you haven’t done by mistake something on your website (f.e. to disallow access to Google’s bot via robot.txt file). If you haven’t done something like that and the decrease in traffic started at particular date, when there was a new update from Google (you can check the dates here), it is very possible that this is where the problem with your traffic comes from.


Penguin update is related to the quality of your website’s content and the Penguin update – the quality and diversity of your backlinks. In short try to have quality and not duplicated content together with diverse and quality backlinks to your website. Keep the advices above to protect your website. Build a brand.


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