The SEO world seems to be in a bit of turmoil these days. Thanks to the late April release of Google’s Penguin algorithm update and all its related follow-ups.
These effects mirror similar reactions that occurred when Panda was released in February of 2011.
Thanks to pervasive gossip, rumor spreading and poorly informed opinion in some online forums, there are several misconceptions and myths floating around about both of these algorithm changes. In both cases, a lot of sifting has to be done in order to see what’s true and what isn’t.
Let’s take a look at few common misconceptions about Penguin and Panda as well as SEO itself in the wake of both.
Myth 1 – Your website will almost certainly be negatively impacted by the updates
For those of us who are tuned into the world of online marketing, SEO and website creation, the barrage of news about both updates would almost make it seem as if everyone who has an online presence will be negatively affected by either Panda or Penguin.
This is completely untrue. For example, it is estimated that the latest July 25th update to Panda affected approximately 1% of search results; hardly the definition of a majority.
In the case of both updates, specific algorithmic changes were made to the Pagerank algorithm in an effort to attack highly specific Page ranking and SEO practices.
The bottom line is that if your website did not engage in these practices, it almost certainly would not be negatively affected by either update or its numerous incarnations.
Not only this, but websites which had engaged in ethical, organic SEO by creating valuable content and stayed away from trick tactics like keyword stuffing their content, buying links, link farming, flooding their site with advertising or using duplicate content would in fact benefit from Panda and Penguin. The reason is simple; a lot of the competition for keywords was eliminated from search results by both updates.
Myth 2 – Penguin and Panda made SEO more difficult
On the contrary, if anything, SEO has become a much simpler process than it was before.
What’s more complicated? Constantly shuffling around from one link and keyword trick to the next in order to raise your SEO presence quickly, or simply focusing on delivering good quality content within the framework of a website that has been structurally well optimized in a onetime effort?
Panda and Penguin went after specific SEO practices that were geared towards unnaturally quick growth through content, keyword and link based manipulation of search spiders instead of gaining interest from human readers.
In the wake of both major updates and the more than 500 smaller algorithm tweaks that came out during 2011 and 2012 up to the current date, hardly any had much negative impact on websites that concentrated their content efforts on creating informed value and interesting others in linking back to their sites through honest or relevant interest.
Penguin and Panda made black hat SEO harder; straightforward value based optimization has actually benefited from the reduced competition.
Myth 3 – Keyword Density is still important for higher rankings
Keyword density is certainly not important for higher search rankings.
And, if you really overdo it by stuffing your content with keywords to the point that it doesn’t look natural to human readers, then you’ll actually stand a good chance of being punished by either Google’s Penguin update or by Panda, which is also aimed at poor quality content.
Instead of worrying about the highly over-hyped keyword density metric, just focus on naturally written content that’s packed with as much unique information as possible.
This will automatically create a reasonably good quantity of keywords in your text while at the same time attracting more interest from human readers who might then share your content on other sites or through social media (improving your backlink profile or raising your social network SEO).
Myth 4 – Reciprocal Linking is going to get me punished
Penguin in particular was designed to attack off-site SEO tactics that were unnatural, and one of these was massive link exchanging in order to build a better backlink profile.
However, this does not mean that any sort of reciprocal linking is now forbidden by the search giant. If you own a website and see something from another website that has relevance to you, then post it to your own content only to have the other site do the same of your own post or another related post or page, you’re probably okay.
Ultimately, it’s more of a matter of how natural the reciprocal linking looks than the fact that it’s being done. People do naturally exchange links all the time for the sake of sharing mutually interesting content. However, do avoid reciprocal linking strategies with sites that may have a reputation for being warehouses for backlinks and low quality content.
Myth 5 – If my site has been de-ranked, it’s almost impossible to get it back up
Not true at all. Panda and Penguin are designed to punish highly specific behavior in any given website.
As we’ve already mentioned, they go after low quality, thin content, keyword stuffing, unnatural link building, overuse of the same anchor text in backlinks and internal links, and too much emphasis on on-site advertising instead of content.
If your site had its search rank harmed it’s probably because you’ve been engaging in one or more of these practices at some point or another; removing bad backlinks, improving content quality by posting fresh and conceptually unique information and cutting back on keywords in an effort to make your content engaging to readers will all lead to your rank eventually improving.
Google does not review websites just once to determine their position; it’s an ongoing process that changes your rank depending on what the search spiders encounter each time.