The last 12 months have seen massive changes in the world of SEO. These changes started with Google opening the doors of its zoo and sending forth a menagerie of animals to combat bad websites and to clean up Google’s search results. Initially these animals (Pandas and Penguins) seemed rather tame but as they have grown up their bite has become much worse. This blog looks at the basic question of what is Panda and Penguin?

It’s important to remember that these updates are not algorithm change but separate programs that are manually released from time to time to go out and hunt down bad sites. But what are these updates I hear you cry! They currently come in two forms, Panda and Penguin.


Named after one of Google’s engineers Panda was introduced in February 2011 and it landed with a big bang, impacting some 12% of all websites. The sites that it targeted were considered low quality so the sites were no great loss to the world; however over time the factors Panda uses to decide if a site is low quality has increased. This has meant more and more sites are seeing themselves bitten by Google’s Panda.

Panda is primarily an on-page issue. This means that it looks your website as a whole to decide whether your site is worth having in Google’s results pages. Factors include:

• How many adverts are on each page
• How many ads are “above the fold” (“above the fold” means the content you first see before having to scroll down)
• The number of links on each page
• Low-quality or “thin” content
• Canonicalization and duplicate content
• Site Speed
• How often is a site updated?
• Social Signals – Facebook likes, Google+ 1’s, and other things like Twitter activity


Penguin on the other hand is focused on your link structure, both on and off-page. Penguin came about to try and stop people from building links from poor quality sites, or use on-site factors such as exact domain matches to try and game the system, or “webspam”. Introduced in April 2012 it has kicked the stuffing out of a number of sites across the internet.

Penguin primarily focuses on:

• Aggressive anchor text match
• Low-quality article marketing and blogs
• Overuse of exact domain match domains
• Keyword stuffing in website links

These two changes to Google have had a massive impact and it could be argued that they have introduced more change and flux in the world of SEO then any other Google update. However annoying they may be these two beasties should be seen as a force for good. They have made webmasters and SEOs take a good long hard look at what they are doing and in many cases make people start to produce great websites with content worth sharing.
Here is a great example of a site on Fireproof safes that is structured in the right way.

At this point I should stress that Google push out hundreds of updates every year and these are just two of them. To get a better picture of what has been happening head over to SEO Moz and check out their Google Algorithm Change page.