Don’t Let Penguin and Panda Destroy Your Website Ranking

By | March 5, 2015

Penguin, Panda, and now Hummingbird are Google’s names for search engine algorithms that can downgrade your website or totally remove it from the rankings. The names may conjure up images of toys on a little girl’s bed, but these toys have big teeth. It’s possible to recover from Google-imposed penalties, but it’s far better to avoid penalties altogether.

How Does a Search Engine Work?

Did you ever think about how almost-miraculous it is that you can type in just about any search query and receive pertinent website suggestions? The search engines are getting smarter all of the time. At one time, a search would result in a lot of silly responses. Now, that happens far less often, even though the number of websites is expanding exponentially.

Within an incredibly brief period of time, a search engine must accomplish the following three goals.

  • All sites that are not relevant must be disqualified.
  • A list of all relevant sites must be assembled.
  • The relevant sites must be ranked, with those that best answer the query at the top of the list, on page one of the query results.

What the Algorithms are Searching For

The algorithms encompass all of the factors that the search engine uses to rank websites. The exact mix of factors is kept a deep, dark secret by Google (and the other search engines), but the following topics are included.

  • Content. What is most important is quality and depth. In other words, know what you’re writing about. Update content and keep it fresh. Social media reads and shares of the content help push the site higher.
  • Other page factors. The search engine will look for title tags (H1, H2, etc.) and how fast the page loads.
  • Mobile. It’s important that the site is designed for mobile use. Half or more of most website traffic is from mobile devices.
  • Links. Authoritative links, especially those ending in .org or .edu count as a positive. Links that have no reasonable relationship to the site (a site about fishing linking to a dog grooming site, for example) will be perceived as a negative.
  • Brand metrics. This refers to the volume of searches for the brand, specific keywords and how many times the brand was mentioned and cited.

Change is the Only Constant

Just as life is constantly changing, so are Google’s algorithms. However, don’t expect to receive a memo detailing all of the changes. The CIA should take lessons from Google on how to keep secret information secret. Experts spend endless hours trying to figure it out and then pass the information on to others. Once a website owner feels that they understand what Google is looking for so that they can implement strategies to get their site the coveted #1 ranking, it will change. Understanding the trends of algorithm changes over the last few years will make it a little easier to understand how to improve website ranking—and how to stay out of trouble.

How Important is Website Ranking?

There is nothing more important to a website than ranking. For a website, ranking is a life and death issue. Most people never look beyond the first page of the search responses. The #1 organically-ranked site (not an ad) will receive about 42% of the clicks. The #2 site gets about 12% of the clicks. The remaining 46% of the clicks are divided among all of the other sites. As far as most customers are concerned, if your site doesn’t appear on page one on a relevant keyword search, you don’t exist.

The Google Animals – Penguin and Panda (and Hummingbird)


Panda_Flickr_47456200@N04_4361902769 The Google Panda algorithm was ‘born’ in February, 2011. Panda was sent looking for low quality content. You can think of the algorithms as CSI teams, searching through every website to find “bad” sites and reward “good” sites. That is the flip side of the Panda algorithm. If you are “bad,” you will be punished, but if you provide excellent content, you will be rewarded with a higher ranking.Panda was primarily looking for:

Duplicate content: Find it and remove it or use canonical URLs (a complicated process best handled by an expert).

Low traffic content: Use Google Analytics to review all landing pages. Those pages with low traffic should be rewritten, removed or redirected to a better page.

Irrelevant content: Content that does not mesh with the overall purpose of the site should be removed. Necessary pages (such as privacy policy pages) are not considered irrelevant.

Panda triggered the popularity of content marketing, including blogging, guest blogging and social media participation.


Penguin_Flickr_cmichel67_11240321653 Penguin was Google’s response in April, 2012, to cheaters who used black hat SEO techniques for raising a site’s Google ranking. There were a multitude of link schemes, designed to make it look as though a site was being widely commented on. Links were bought and sold. Currently, a website owner should periodically check their site’s links and disavow to Google all poor quality links. Cheaters were penalized heavily with massive ranking downgrades or banning.


Hummingbird_Flickr_54548917@N02_14910027643 Hummingbird appeared in late 2013, reinforcing Panda and Penguin but also introducing the importance of searches by mobile devices. Contextual search was also introduced, allowing the algorithms to understand search queries that were entered according to how people naturally speak.

Google Penalties

It is possible to recover from a Google penalty, but it isn’t easy. The website might experience a sharp drop in traffic or a gradual decline. Recovery usually requires specific strategies designed and implemented by an expert. It is far better to gain traffic and customers honestly, by providing the best website possible.

Irving SEO Marketing focuses on getting customers for his clients. The experts know that most website owners don’t have time to learn all about Google, SEO, Panda, Penguin and everything else that is involved in getting a high website ranking. Owners want results, more clicks, more customers, more sales. Talk to this Irving Texas SEO expert today about how to get your website to that #1 spot.

Category: SEO