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The Difference Between the Panda and Penguin Updates

The Difference Between the Panda and Penguin Updates

by Philip Armstrong12th March 2015

Countless website and blog owners have been reeling since the release of both the Panda and Penguin updates. If you’ve seen a massive drop in your levels of traffic, and your search engine rankings, then more than likely you too have become a victim of one of these algorithmic updates.

Which Update Affected Your Site?

Understanding the difference between the two updates and knowing which one has affected your rankings most can play a big part in helping you to recover your traffic. The changes that you should make to your website and marketing efforts after being bitten by the Panda should be different to the changes you should make after being… pecked by the Penguin.

So let’s look at the two updates side by side and see some of the differences:


Google UpdatePandaPenguin
Update ObjectiveTo penalise websites that have thin (low quantity) or poor quality content. This can include websites that have little content above the fold, and websites that have many low word count articles.To penalise websites with many low quality “spammy” backlinks. This is intended to affect websites that have bought links from public/ private blog networks.
Date of First Update of its KindFebruary 2011April 2012
Other NamesFarmer UpdateOver Optimisation Penalty
How to Avoid Being AffectedMake sure your content is: original; well-written with good spelling and grammar; and comprehensive and useful. If your site has multiple low quality content pages, then you should either improve the content on these pages, or even remove them?Avoid purchasing or building low quality links / link swapping. High quality links from real, trusted websites and business are what is required to improve your search engine rankings.If you have purchased poor quality links then you can use tools such as a hrefs and Majestic SEO to find links from low quality websites. You can then contact the webmasters of these websites and kindly ask them to have these links removed. Alternatively you can disavow these links using the Google disavow tool.
How many pages can be affected?Panda generally affects the whole website. The algorithm looks at the quality of the content on the website as a whole. This means that an extremely well written article on a blog can be affected by the many poorly written articles on the same blog.Penguin affects sites on a page by page basis. While one page on a site may have a healthy link profile, another page may have a toxic link profile and therefore not rank for any relevant keywords in the search results.
Once Hit – How Do You Recover?As Panda is an on-site update, all of the changes that you will be required to make in order to recover from this update will concern your website content. You will need to look through your content and remove any plagiarised articles, any articles with poorly written content which has bad grammar and spelling, any “thin” content which lacks substance or usefulness. Once this is done, you will benefit from having Google re-crawl your website to take account of the changes that you have made.In order to recover from Penguin, the toxic links that are bringing down the quality of your link profile need to be removed. This can be done manually by speaking to each of the webmasters who host the links on their websites, and asking them to remove the links. The effect of links can also be removed by going into your Google Webmasters account and using the Disavow tool.
How Do You Know Which Update Affected You, Or If It Was Both?Check when your site lost its traffic and rankings. If it was around February 2011 then it was quite likely down to Panda.If not, did it coincide with one of the later Panda updates? Check the dates of each of the algorithm updates:

If the change did not coincide with an algorithm update, then maybe it coincides with a change you made to your onsite content. Did you add or remove content to your website close to the time the damage occurred?

Was your site hit around April 2012? Was it hit close to the time of one of the later Penguin updates: also if your site losing its rankings coincides with either losing or accumulating some links.


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About The Author
Philip Armstrong
Philip Armstrong is a content writer for the Just SEO newsroom. Having served as an Adword's manager for a number of paid search campaigns, he is an expert in spending money to make money, and regularly contributes in-depth articles on the latest news and updates on pay-per-click (PPC) matters.

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