Whats The Difference Between Google Panda and Google Penguin Updates?


Google Updates

SEO marketers would have surely loved to receive a heads up regarding the fine details of the Google Panda and Google Penguin updates.  The now infamous search engine updates that caused several brands to lose visibility, and forced even more to make dramatic changes to their search engine optimization strategy. But then again, Google rarely announces changes to anything it does behind the scenes, especially when it involves its precious search algorithm. That’s what makes its recent revelation so strange.

Google was on hand at the 2012 SXSW Interactive event in Austin, Texas discussing Google+ and other topics. Among those topics were upcoming changes to the company’s search algorithm. Matt Cutts, one of the top software engineers at Google, actually warned the public about some of the changes in an interview. Cutt’s friendly heads up involved two main issues regarding search:

  1. Over optimization will start to negatively affect rankings.
  2. The quality of content will soon be more of a focal point when determining rankings.

In Cutt’s own words, Google is attempting to “level the playing field” by essentially giving both SEO marketers with great optimization skills and great content an equal opportunity to increase their visibility in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The mission is all about enhancing the efficiency of the so-called “GoogleBot”, the company’s software that crawls the web and indexes pages, and in turn, create a more relevant and useful experience for the internet searcher. As a result, those who go overboard with their SEO will start to be penalized, while those who improve in the quality department will be rewarded.

Too Much of a Good Thing …

There are many ways to drive traffic to a website, but SEO has been proven to be the most reliable method of all. When people need to find something online, what do they do? While some refer to the resources archived in their Favorites or actually type in a URL, most begin their quest at a search engine like Google. This means that if your site has what people are looking for and is optimized to attract the GoogleBot, you can enjoy scores of quality traffic from search alone. Having said that, we have learned good SEO can lead to manipulation of the system.

Difference Between Google Panda and Google Penguin

Google Panda

Build Backlinks

Image by ‘dominiqueb’

Google dropped the bomb that was the Panda update in February of 2011. As you probably know, Google Panda had some complex components to it, but its primary objectives were simple – penalize sites with lower quality content and in the process, return sites with high quality content to the top of the results where they belong. While some would say the accuracy of the update was equivalent to a one-legged blind man in a butt-kicking contest, Panda made it be known that SEO marketers would have to start appeasing Google’s search algorithm beyond good keyword and linking strategies.

Google Penguin

SEO update

Image by ‘the.approximate.photographer’

Google launched the Penguin update in April 2012. This focused more on tackling spam and penalizing sites that didn’t follow Google’s quality guidelines. Google Penguin also looks to tackling Black hat SEO techniques that many sites use to increase their search engine ranking. This includes techniques like;

  • Keyword/keyphrases stuffing within content.
  • Comment spamming by including links using the same anchor text.
  • Links from article directories and directory listings.
  • Having excessive/unnatural internal links.
  • Too many external links pointing to your site that use the exact same anchor text.
  • Excessive links from low quality sites.

Google’s initiative to level the playing field is just another step in the road to making quality more important than quantity. It may take SEO marketers some getting used to, but those who want to keep benefiting from search traffic will embrace the Google Panda and Google Penguin updates and do what it takes to keep their rankings intact.

What do you think? Have you been affected by either of the Google Panda and Google Penguin updates? Have you not noticed the updates and continued to grow your site traffic? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About Aidan Hijleh

Aidan Hijleh is an SEO specialist, marketing expert and blogger for Benchmark Email. An accomplished writer and former non-profit organization liaison, he works with numerous top-tier blogs to deliver valuable intel to the small business owner. You can learn more by following Aidan on Twitter or Google+.

  • Main difference for me: Panda was nice to my niche sites, Penguin kicked my sites ass. Can’t complain too much though: that’s what I got for being lazy and relying on mainly blog networks for links. Thanks for the great post!


    • Hi Thomas! Well at least you didn’t get hit twice, I know many people did and they have basically given up now. AT least you know what aspects that you need to fix to get everything up and running again.

  • One of my niche sites was hit by Panda. Penguin killed it 😉 But most of my niche sites are even stronger after these updates. So, someone lost, someone won 🙂
    Aidan, thanks for sharing.
    BR, Chris

    • Hi Chris! I had a similar experience to you. OnlineIncomeTeacher was relatively unharmed by the updates (touch wood), whereas some other sites that I’d been working on were more affected. I welcome the Google updates because they are genuinely trying to supply better content for their search engine, which in turn should encourage bloggers to produce better content and get rid of all the spammers.

  • Hafiz Mahmud

    Thanks for the great post, new updates from Google really do give lots of benefits to the hardworking webmasters.. I kind of love it..

    • Hi Hafiz! I’ve said it before, but I welcome the Google updates. It encourages websites & bloggers to create quality content that people want to read. That’s what the internet was meant to be for.

  • Wonderful post Matt and it’s great to see the two differences like this. I was affected by both updates, Panda being the biggest ass whooping for me. I made every effort to recover and then a year later I got smacked back down to the ground again. I made so many changes to the site and I’m still doing so now, and I’m actually seeing not just a recovery, but an increase in traffic… until Google decides to unleash another animal out of it’s cage lol. I’m actually grateful for those updates as it made me better the site.

    • HI Fabrizio! I like what you said “..I’m actually grateful for those updates as it made me better the site.” I couldn’t agree more!

      I welcome Google’s updates as they are genuinely trying to improve their search engine. They only want to provide quality content to people searching, so it’s in both there’s and our interests to produce high quality content for our websites. Yes, in the short term it can be a pain and require work to adapt, but in the long run it will make us better bloggers.

      Thanks for the comment Fabrizio!

  • Richa Parekh
    • Thanks for that Richa. Great infographic!