Difference between Google Panda and Penguin Updates

Google Panda and Google Penguin Updates would not be new to you if you deal with SEO. There has been a lot of speculation about these right from the day they were launched. This arises a list of question to people who are new to this industry like: What are these updates? What is their purpose and what is the difference between them?


We will be going to detail in this post to try and answer all the above questions but before that Let me give you an outline of these. Google being the king of search is working very hard on improving the quality of search results and to make it as relevant as possible to the users requirement.

But we all know that there are billions of sites in internet world which also include spam and poor quality content. So for showing the most relevant and best result from such a huge repository, Google has created different algorithms which are updated on regular basis and Panda and Penguin are part of it. So lets dive into the world of Panda and Penguin:

Google Panda Update Overview:

Created in order to target low quality sites and display it lower in search results.

googlepandaThe Panda Update was first launched on 24 February 2011. Initially it was referred as “Farmer Update”. This was because it was created in order to tackle the increasing problem of Content Farm (these are sites that churn out tons of low quality content in order to rank well in search results). Many SEO professionals believe that sites affected with panda update have on page quality issues. Any site affected with Panda Update signifies the presence of either duplicate content or thin content. Google does not see any reason to show these sites top in search results. As a result many sites with lot of advertising and poor or less content saw huge decline in their rankings.

Google Panda is a site wide penalty, means that if enough (no specific number) of pages are found to have thin content or duplicate content, the whole site could be penalized even if contains few good quality content also. Sites with high bounce rate were also affected.

The main contributing factors for Panda update are:

  • Thin Content (less words)
  • Content Farms
  • Bounce Rate

It was one of the first of its kind algorithm targeting thin content. The impact of this were tragic for the sites affected. Sites like Hubpages and About.com were also affected by Panda Update and saw huge decrease in traffic and revenue.

Google Panda affected sites

And even after two years they are still reeling form the effects. According to data from SearchMetrics, Hubpages SEO visibility became 62% lower than what it was before Panda update.

Google Penguin Update Overview:

Created in order to target Over Optimization.

google penguin updateThe Penguin Update was first launched on 24 April 2012. It is also referred as Over Optimization Penalty. This is because it was targeted in order to tackle sites involving into activities against the guidelines of search engines by over optimizing their site. The main target of Penguin are the sites who are involved in Black Hat SEO Techniques which include tactics like keyword stuffig and cloaking. Most SEO believe that that the main cause for Panda update loss is due to getting low quality links with keywords as anchor text with an aim to manipulate rankings. Lets read what Google has to say on this:

Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.

According to Google overall 3.1% of queries were affected by the first Penguin update compared to 1% by Panda’s first update. Google has still not made it clear as what are the factors which they focus in Penguin update. So many site owners who were affected are still in dark as to know why were they attacked by penguin update.

But most SEO professional believe the main contributing factors for Penguin update are:

  • Low Quality links
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Over Optimized anchor text
  • Over use of exact match domains

Google updates these algorithms on a regular basis and it becomes really difficult to keep track of every single update. So how to remain up to date with every update? Well just follow a simple rule of creating a content which is liked by users and everything else will be taken care of. Because the ultimate aim of search engines is to provide best user experience. Here is a summary of the above post:

Google Panda
Google Penguin
Intro Introduced on Feb 2011 with the name of Farmer Update in USA. Introduced on April 2012 with the name of Webspam Algorithm.
Aim Created in order to target sites with thin and duplicate content and display it lower in search results. Created in order to target webspam ie, sites not following Google guidelines.
launch Date 24 Feb 2011 24 April 2012
Also known as Farmer update Webspam Algorithm and Over optimization penalty
Causing Factors
  • Thin Content
  • Content Farms
  • High Bounce Rate
  • Low Quality links
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Over optimized anchor links
  • Over use of exact match domains
Effect on site If Panda detects thin or duplicate content on your site then the complete site will be penalized. Individual pages are not targeted in this algorithm. Penguin generally affects a part of a website either at apage or keyword level. Unless spammed for keyword stuffing on entire site, it does not affect entire site.
Number of Updates Panda has over 25 updates till June 2013, with last update being on 14 March 2013. Penguin has 4 update till June 2013, with last update on 22 May 2013.
Does a recovery request help? No, because the changes are for overall website. Only if a manual warning is issued.
Is manual removal of links needed? No, because content plays the more important role here. Yes, Manual removal of low quality links is helpful.
Time taken for site recovery If the changes have been made then probably by next launch. It should take time as updates are not frequent and no specific dates.
How to prevent from them? Check for pages with duplicate or thin content and update them with more useful and unique content which provides value to users. Review your backlinks on a regular basis and remove the spammy and low quality links. Also avoid links from same domain name or IP address. Do not try to over optimize your site. Be natural and create value for users.
5 replies
  1. aarontaylor says:

    Amazing article.. Great comparison between the two.. These are the most dangerous updates for any sites and very difficult to recover.. There are some link removal and google penalty recovery services available to recover the sites.. For more information, check this out http://seorecovery.net/penalty-removal/

  2. Tehzeeb says:

    Penguin Businesses are maturation solon alert of the essential to interpret and apply at lowest the fact of examine engine improvement (SEO). But if you translate a difference of blogs and websites, you’ll speedily see that there’s a lot of incertitude over what makes up “the principle.” Without admittance to high-level consulting and without a lot of change learned what SEOhttp://dtxwebsolution.com/seo-tricks/

  3. Siya says:


    Well, Google has made it difficult for newbies like us, with these algorithm updates. I am really trying hard to learn to comply with these updates, after one of my blog got hit from last panda update and I guess Penguin is also coming.

    So, reading a lot about these updates, so I can remove the risk of penalty from my blogs.

    Is there any special thing, which I can follow?

  4. Reene Smith says:


    Well, I have been trying out to understand Google Panda and Penguin, by reading more and more and this is helping me a lot. I know Google Panda is all about Quality Content.

    Although, It would take some time for me to understand, How to avoid any penalty from Google Penguin. It is bit complicated for me, they say, Only natural links are safe, but After reading articles, including this one, i get bit confused.

    Anyways, Will try experimenting a bit.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *