Penguins and Pandas and Google, Oh My!

Penguins and pandas are cute, but they can get you into trouble with the #1 search engine if you’re not careful. Penguin and panda are actually the names of Google algorithms designed to catch spam, duplicate content, and other dishonest practices.

Panda was officially released in February 2011, but there have been about 13 data refreshes of it since then. Panda 3.7, the most recent version, was designed to catch sites with thin, stolen, or duplicated content. It also picks up on sites with a high ad-to-content ratio.

Penguin was released April 2012, and it put more strict guidelines on website optimization and web spam factors such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, unnatural links and content spinning.

Although it may seem otherwise, Google doesn’t intend to get rid of every website. Once you rework your content and get rid of all the filler and duplicated content, you’ll be taken off their naughty list; you won’t have to worry about getting into trouble.

Fortunately, this is easy to do. Below are five easy ways to get off Google’s bad list and get all those pandas and penguins off your back.

Keep Track of Your Links

Yes, you can include keywords in your URL that will make it easier for search engine users to reach your site. No, you shouldn’t always do this. While you do want keywords in your anchor text, a natural link profile should be more important. Work on having more brand name links than keyword links. This applies to your URL, too. Also work on producing natural-looking links like “click here” and “contact us here.”

Keep Track of Content

One of the best ways to get back on Google’s good side is to produce solid, natural content. You can do this by keeping a weekly blog, putting out monthly press releases and releasing whitepapers. Creating content can be time-consuming, but it’s one of the most important things you can do.

Keep Track of Webmaster Tools

Google is helping all of us with webmaster tools. They teach us what our website looks like to Google, as well as give us a direct connection to the search engine itself. The webmaster tools will alert you of spam on your website, as well as 404 errors, server errors and blocked content. Penguin won’t get into the specifics of errors like these, but it’s helpful to know they exist so you can fix them ASAP.

Keep Track of What to Avoid

Always, always avoid cloaking and content spinning. Avoiding them means staying in Google’s good graces, but employing them means calling forth the Penguin. Cloaking occurs when you send different versions of your website to search engines so you can improve rankings. Content spinning means editing an existing article slightly and then publishing it. This is the easy way out.

Keep Track of Your Keywords

Because Penguin was working hard to get rid of over-optimization, some websites went so far in the other direction that they got rid of keywords completely. Keywords are essential. They help search engines know what your site is about. Without keywords in place, it would be very difficult to get to your site. If you want to hang on tightly to your keywords, remember these simple steps when building your website:

  • Don’t add in keywords later. Keep them in mind as you write your content, and they will fit much more naturally into the flow of your post.
  • Reread what you write. If it causes confusion because of excess keywords, fix it.
  • Put your most important keyword in your title tag, and make sure your brand name is in there as well.
  • Name your images your keywords only if it makes sense for the individual images.

Following these simple steps will keep you out of trouble with Google, Penguin, Panda and any other zoo animals you don’t want around.

Blogger Kris Hubner works hard to keep her website in Google’s good graces. If your website has recently been attacked by zoo animals, you might want to let a professional help (click here for a Clearwater marketing firm that specializes in website design).