The Panda and the Penguin: What They Mean to Your SEO Strategy

Panda Penguin Penalty

The Wild West days of SEO gunslingers are over. Sites can no longer manipulate links in order to gain more traffic, strengthening SEO and their reputations. Google is the new sheriff in town, armed with two black-and-white friends to keep the peace and restore civility to the search giant.

With the Panda and Penguin updates, Google has effectively shifted SEO strategies to focus on content for the consumer. While that may be the case, sites found themselves losing as much as 90 percent of their traffic when hit by penalties from these updates, created by on-page and off-page factors that didn’t measure up to certain quality guidelines.

Whether you were a victim or a benefactor of this shift, you need to know why it occurred and how you can optimize your site for the consumer in the future.

Why the Shift?

Prior to the Panda and Penguin updates, users were forced to sift through irrelevant links that provided little or no helpful information about what they were actually looking for. An established site could use its reputation and SEO strength to pull users in with manipulative links.

User engagement with these sites fell off the map, bounce rates skyrocketed, and viewing time plummeted, so Google took action against these websites.

In order for Google to win in the search game, the links had to be relevant; otherwise, Google would just be serving as a distribution channel for bad links to spammy affiliate sites. It had to realign its focus to become what users wanted, not what Internet marketers wanted users to see. In order to make the switch from SEO trickery to a user-centric mindset, keep these things in mind:

1.     Be useful. Your site’s prowess is a reflection of how useful your content is to the audience. Instead of boasting about how great your site is, explain exactly what you can offer users. They aren’t searching for the site that can market best; they’re searching for the site that can offer them what they need.

2.     Don’t focus on features. Provide tangible solutions for consumers’ immediate needs, rather than explain the multitude of product features you offer. Appealing to the specific needs of a large audience is nothing short of a challenge, but perfecting this craft can prove highly successful. To hone your audience-identifying skills, base your data-driven content on demographics and psychographics. Be personable, and show how your product or service can truly help the customer in each different area.

3.     Go mobile. Creating a mobile-friendly site is a necessity. Internet searches are increasing steadily on mobile devices, so appealing to the mobile user can create long-term gains in SEO. Always give the visitor the option to view the full site. Users don’t like restrictions, so keep them happy with fewer restraints.

Improvement Needed

If a company has currently undertaken an optimization strategy primarily with search engine crawlers in mind — and not the user — some major changes may be required. They should take the following steps to improve the consumer’s experience.

  1. Begin by paying more attention to site metrics and user engagement metrics in the analytics data, making changes to navigation, page layout, usability design, and persuasive copy wherever needed to make improvements in those metrics.
  2. Take stock of the backlink profile to make sure it does not come across as “unnatural” (as Google calls it) or contrived. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether a site looks like one you would trust for information on your topic, or visit on a regular basis.

    If the answer is “no,” you don’t want a link from the site. Nevertheless, you must keep in mind something that is counterintuitive, and that is that some links from low-quality (not spammy) sites are good for you because a backlink profile that includes those is natural.

New Trends for a Trending World

If your site is currently optimized for search engines and not the user, you’ll want to adjust in order to gain optimal results. You might not have seen traffic diminish yet, but the Google updates will inevitably catch up with you. When beginning this transition, you’ll want to pay more attention to site metrics, engagement, navigation, page layout, usability, and design.

Mobile compliance is also essential for embracing users who rely heavily on the Internet outside of the office. Attracting an audience is your key concern, which is only possible by meeting the quality standards search engines now demand.

The growth of the influential roles played by social signals will likely become important in 2013. Mobile readiness and compliance is becoming imperative as well. In your overall strategy, you should include a plan for capturing traffic from non-text-based searches via platforms like Siri.

The need to leverage benefits that are gained from semantic markups, such as authorship tags and rich snippets, should also be prominent this year.

Quality content is, above all, the most important aspect of winning in search, and if the user doesn’t care about the content, then neither will Google. Stay ahead this year by optimizing your site for the consumer. Tangible information leads to satisfied users, and a satisfied user will always be trending.

Article by Michael Marshall

Michael has written 1 articles.

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  • SEO Company Philadelphia February 27, 2013, 6:03 am

    Google Panda and Google Penguin are both code names for different Google algorithms, which are used to rank websites. Both means a lot to SEO as our websites are fully depend on their updates.

    • ZK February 27, 2013, 7:42 am

      The bigger challege is to work around these algo to ensure your blog or site is not penalized

  • Nick Stamoulis February 27, 2013, 9:21 am

    Panda and Penguin didn’t kill SEO as some believe. The updates just changed the way that SEO should be approached. The focus should be on the end user, instead of the search engines.

    • Michael Marshall February 28, 2013, 11:45 pm

      That’s exactly right. Metrics focused on user benefit and engagement have a lot of weight with these algorithms

  • Karol February 28, 2013, 7:48 am

    So anyways – if your social interactivity index is high, you have nothing to worry about? :)

    • Michael Marshall February 28, 2013, 11:46 pm

      It’s also important to have trust and authority built up for your site in addition to good social signals.

  • Parol February 28, 2013, 11:06 am

    As my opinion, google is killing the seo so in the future google will choose what website they want to rank. They will rank you if you are in their program like adwords.

  • Zion February 28, 2013, 12:34 pm

    Google Panda and Google Penguin definitely did not kill SEO. It just upped the ante of SEO, taking it to a higher level which focuses on people and great content.

  • Yasir Khan February 28, 2013, 7:48 pm

    Google Panda and Google Penguin updates was released with the aim of punishing webmasters and small businesses websites that continued to use black hat SEO just to get listed and increase website ranking. They absolutely spam the web which Google doesn’t like because it always wants to maintain a reliable and credible search engine.

  • Mobile App Development India March 1, 2013, 12:41 am

    Well …..I have read many articles regarding both updates few of them are really good when it comes to panda update but i didn’t find the clear idea to escape from penguin updates…..

    Few expert advising to replace linking policy by placing links on brand name Or words like view more, Click here etc etc …But all of these doesn’t work practically….Moreover we cant find when & why our pages have been penalized…..

    What i believe that world of SEO didn’t came out with right conclusion Or search engine like google have started playing unfair …

    If any one can give me the exact ideas of promoting web paged without alarming the panda & penguin guys………….”I welcome the opportunity”

  • Mark March 4, 2013, 2:39 pm

    It’s true that the way SEO is to be approached has changed massively to what it was 5 years ago. Google is becoming stronger and more sophisticated, but still so important to many businesses. There has been quite a lot of moaning about these updates, but to be fair to Google, it is a step in the right direction, even though it is a little bit frustrating…

  • Nanvy @ CRM Software Solutions March 6, 2013, 7:15 am

    It is all for preventing low quality links and spamming. If one follows the guidelines of search engine, there is no need to worry about these updates.
    When it comes to Content, one must provide rich and unique content in order to gain more visitors or traffic to the site. If it is not done like that and one provides the duplicate content, it is obviously not going to work in terms of Google Updates.

  • web design March 16, 2013, 8:20 am

    i like the way u have written “google is the new sheriff in the town”!!
    two of my created sites were also effected by these two google algorithms..
    but then i think its the right step from google to avoid spammy sites from top results.. one must write good contents and avoid posting duplicate contents to drive traffic.. this is what google wants..

  • hebergement web pas cher March 20, 2013, 8:32 am

    With the update of Panda and Penguin, the scenario is that, everything for the SEO changes. all the strategy and various plans do not work properly. With this up date the business of SEO turns into a challenging way. In fact the information given here is very valuable.

  • custom logos March 21, 2013, 5:32 am

    I personally think that this year will be very tough for SEO industry because after back to back updates of Google Panda and Penguin SEO is not easy thing for anyone. In this scenario your shared points are very effective to learn about the right way be successful in SEO business.

  • website design April 24, 2013, 2:23 am

    I personally think that after Google Penguin update SEO is very tough job now because you have to do every activity after a lot of research work. However it is helpful to reduce the spam searching results in Google searches. After Google Panda and Penguin update we should use only those methods are not prohibited according to search engines.