Panda, Penguin, and Why You Have Nothing to Fear

I may be just a lowly writer, but even my clients have been running to me–filled with fear!–asking, “What’s going on with Google?!” And though I be but a lowly writer, thanks to my own experiences in SEO (and generally staying on top of things!), I’ve been able to give them the gist of things. So, if you’re looking for an explanation “in layman’s terms” of the recent Google algorithm changes (Panda & Penguin), you’ve come to the right place… 

If Google’s Panda & Penguin start cracking down on terrible artwork, I’m going to be in trouble!

Google Algorithm Changes: Panda & Penguin

Late last year, Google made an algorithm change called “Panda.”It was basically an upgrade to their robots so that they were even more efficient at policing “bad” links. Panda chased after spammy scammy websites that practiced strictly Black Hat SEO.Panda cracked down on sites that had malware and viruses, hidden links, duplicate pages, cloaked text See how I hid all this writing? I hope I don’t get in trouble for showing you this… (highlight that blank gap with your mouse to see what I mean), and meta data titles & descriptions that didn’t match what was on the actual post it was connected with.
All in all, pretty much what you’d expect Google to do. You’re probably nodding right now going, “Yeah. All that makes sense. GOOD!” (I agree!)
Then, earlier this year, they released the “Penguin”update. And here’s where things are going to get a little nuts…

Whenever Google releases a new change, it takes a while (usually a couple months) to figure out exactly what it was that’s been changed. Penguin was released in April, but it wasn’t until late last month that the experts started catching on and going “Oh, snap!! The robots have become self-aware! It’s the end of the Internet as we know it!” And I’m only slightly exaggerating there.
The new robots Google’s unleashed on the web are a form of super-intelligent AI that are rapidly learning to read “like humans” and have their own set of robot “morals.” It’s really interesting!
Let me use keywords as an example: For the old Google robots, for them to realize that your article is about dogs, you would need to write it so that your keyword continuously appeared throughout–dog, dog, dog, dog. However, with the new Google robots, you could use your primary keyword, but also include related keywords–dog, canine, puppy, mutt–and the robots automatically know it all means the same thing! :O Did your eyes just widen? Mine sure did!

Changing the Face of Internet Marketing: The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between

Here’s how the recent Google changes look in my opinion:
THE GOOD
  • Website owners are now encouraged to write for the readers, not for the robots. As a writer, I cheered. Quality written content is now valued above all else. The days of keyword stuffing and bloated content may soon come to an end!
  • Most of the “White Hat” SEO techniques are still valid. Woo!
  • Google really has cracked down on spam/scam sites quite well!
  • It’s brought a lot of focus & stability to honest websites. Now that the content creators are back to focusing on the human visitors rather than the robot visitors, overall website quality is going up! Writers/podcasters/artists can get back to just saying what they want to say. Google’s new stance is “Pretend we don’t exist.” (Good luck with that, Google…)
THE BAD
  • Ranking on Google is now slower than ever!! This is the one that has me screaming. Everyone wants to be ranked “NOW!” but that’s just not going to happen. There’s no longer a “quick fix.” And any links that Google deems “unnatural” (i.e. Links you paid for–even if they were from an ethical/legit source) can get you the stink eye.
  • Page Rank matters more than ever. Google previously determined site “authority” by the amount of links leading to a website. Each website that linked to your website was like getting a “vote” that your website was worthwhile. With the new “quality first” stance of the recent algorithm changes, Google is looking at each of the links and then judging their web “authority” to determine your Page Rank. In other words, a quality website linking to your website will boost your Page Rank more than a new or poor quality website linking to your website would. It’s crazy-making. And it’s leading to a new era of web-marketing where people are feeling afraid to link to others for fear of getting sued (i.e. “I’d love to link to my favorite website in this article, but my website isn’t well-respected on Google and could bring their website Rank down…”). I really hope they change this with their next update, but, for now, everyone has to live with it. UGH.
THE IN-BETWEEN
  • Heavier emphasis on social media outlets. Since social media is, by definition, social, the “new” Google has been favoring websites with more social interaction. Fortunately, “social media” covers a lot of ground–in addition to Facebook and Twitter, Blogs are also considered to be “social” as long as they’re frequently updated with real content. Writing guest posts for relevant websites (and getting legit reviews from others) are also being taken into consideration.
  • Ad Placement rules have gotten a little wacky. In addition to cracking down on websites with “excessive” ads, Google is also messing around with how the ads are placed. It’s a little weird, but, to my understanding, ads for your own products can be fully visible “above the fold” of your website (what you first see on your site without having to scroll down), but sponsored ads or pay-per-click ads are now having to be placed “below the fold” (as in, you’d have to scroll down to see them) in order to not be considered “spam-like.”
  • Google is still in love with Google. So anyone with a Google+ account or a YouTube account is feeling the love. Even with all their “quality first” moral chest thumping, they still put their own websites above all others. Haha! In the end, they’re just another business.

Where Do We Go from Here…?

Many of you are probably asking, “Where do we go from here?

For me, the process looks something like this:

  1. Write quality content–or hire someone else to write it for you.
  2. Don’t participate in skeevy SEO techniques.
  3. Wait.

Good, honest, hard work is being rewarded. Slowly. But, in the end, your website will come out on top.

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Posted in Freelance Life, Freelancing, Freelancing Advice, Uncategorized, Writing
2 Comments » for Panda, Penguin, and Why You Have Nothing to Fear
  1. Meygan says:

    Actually, there are a lot of people who got affected with panda and penguin update.. Anyway, I just love this information you have shared us here.. Keep it up!
    Meygan recently posted..GoPro HD Hero ReviewsMy Profile

    • littlezotz says:

      Thanks for the comment, Meygan!

      It’s true. Many, many people got hit by the wrath of Panda & Penguin. And sometimes the robots were a bit overzealous, stomping on website owners who weren’t REALLY in the wrong.

      Fortunately, Google realized that this was happening and set up a form for website owners to let them know if they were wrongly accused: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEVxdmdRWFJRTjRoLWZVTHZkaTBQbkE6MQ

      Hopefully Google will continue to improve their system and all the websites with quality content, writing for REAL people, will truly come out on top. So far, I’m liking the direction they’re headed in, but there’s always room for improvement, in every business! :)

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