When the Panda algorithm was first launched in February of 2011, while it caused wave of panic and hysteria within the SEO community, it was pretty easy to define its focus. Busting thin content sites, (the majority of which were being paid for by Google through Adsense).
Then In April of the following year, along came Penguin. While a little more fuzzy as to the actual target, the objective of both algorithm alterations were similar. It was generally accepted that Panda focused on eliminating thin content from top results and Penguin’s aim was pointed to more basic, (and outdated), SEO techniques such as hidden text, keyword stuffing, cloaking etc. The reason there have been so many updates to Penguin has been to incorporate more and more basic shady SEO techniques that have evolved since the late 1990’s. These included the well known Over Optimization Penalty for example.
Somewhere around the 11th update of each of these oddly named algo changes, the definitions of what each was intended to eliminate began to blur. To me, it was always about trying to minimize the damage done to Google’s control over the organic results due to the manipulation of links. Since page rank became known as a ranking factor, there have been countless linking schemes such as paid link networks and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
From the beginning, Google NEVER liked thin content sites as almost all search engines including Google built prior to 2010 were based around analyzing text. In other words, no matter where links came from or how they were secured, without supporting text, links alone would not put content of any kind on top of search results. What made useless, spammy pages/sites rank wasn’t just the links, it was the combination of content AND inbound links. Same O, same O.
What made weak pages rank in organic results were the auto generated, thin content and inbound links that could be created with cheap PHP scripts to spam blogs with auto generated comments and forums with auto generated profiles.
Panda saw thousands of pages eliminated from the search results, naturally, seriously disrupting the revenue stream of a lot of sites that had been using these techniques. With Panda, it was mostly sites that were built by SEO’s and affiliate marketers promoting things they made commissions on. It didn’t hit a LOT of client sites of the people using these techniques, but some. Mostly because for several years it was relatively easy to show a client positive results using shady tactics.
Penguin, with a stronger focus on more of the SEO “tricks” naturally affected more client sites. As more updated came along, these “tricks” included more and more link building techniques and the sad fact is that far too many SEO companies don’t approach SEO as a marketing tool, they feel their responsibility is only to provide improved search rankings. This approach has little alternative to relying on the onsite and off site tactics mentioned above.
Now around the first May, 2013, rumors started circling in SEO blogs and forums that a major update to panda and penguin were coming, they were coming soon and they were going to be huge. These rumors were fueled by none other than the primo Googler himself Matt Cutts. For some reference reading you can check out:
(be sure to check out the comments on these posts as well!)
You can do a search for Panda Update and see for yourself the freak out quotient among 100’s of seo bloggers and pundits. Not only are a lot of companies scared of this one, as indicated by all the “How to Survive a Panda Update” posts, but we’re already seeing a lot of talk about ANOTHER update by the end of the year. It must be tough to have to live in fear.
So, why aren’t we scared too?
We’re not scared mainly because since February of 2011, over two years ago, our client’s placement have had no noticeable drop in placement. Of course we get about a 5% fluctuation monthly in all our client placement, some up and some down, but we have had the % of fluctuation since we started offering SEO services in the Dallas metro in 2007. We have never had a client’s site penalized or removed from the index.
Not because we think we are morally or ethically superior. We believe that online marketing, just like any marketing, is a war, a conflict and our job is to win. Our job is to beat our competitors by giving our clients a superior position in search results. BUT, we don’t see any advantage in taking short cuts that put our clients at risk.
Our impressive track record is mostly due to our philosophy. We accept that we only play the game but Google makes the rules. We follow the rules!
We do not buy links
We do not auto generate anything
We create unique, relevant content
We don’t spam people, we engage them
We don’t hide keywords in the code of our sites
We don’t use re-directs to try to trick the search engine spiders
We don’t use any cloaking software
We don’t stuff keywords into our text
We don’t hide anything
We work with our clients to understand their business model and their unique selling proposition and then promote that. We’ve been doing this kind of work on behalf of our clients for a long time and we know what it takes to generate traffic online without breaking guidelines or using shady techniques.