SEO experts have a broad range of methods in their arsenal. Not all of them are fruitful and praiseworthy. Some tactics backfire, damaging your ranking. Google uses a powerful algorithm to counteract shady optimization methods. Here is an overview of three major updates every SEO manager should know.

If you need to make your site popular, avoid methods that promise quick results. If you buy backlinks or stuff sentences with keywords, Google will impose sanctions. Legit strategies may take time. In the long run, they prove more effective. Today, Google follows a strict “quality first” policy. Discover three silent judges that make it possible.

Google Panda

This is the update you are most likely to encounter. The system performs a site assessment based on content quality. The higher the latter — the higher the position in the ranking. Sites with poor content are pushed to the bottom. The changes brought by Google Panda underscore the value of on-page optimization. Here are the key triggers to avoid.

Thin Content

Sites with thin content are now doomed. The term does not necessarily describe text with few words. These are pages that provide little or no value to the user. For example, if you Google “Is it Christmas?”, the result you see at the top will give a one-word reply in your local language.

Of course, it is better to give detailed answers to common queries. Your content should also be original, as Panda considers pages with scraped and duplicate content as thin, too. Avoid stuffing your articles with keywords as well.

Low-quality Content

The second type of internet offense concerns the text and images you publish. Unreadable and poorly formatted pieces of writing are guaranteed to trigger Panda. Glaring grammar mistakes, oversized or distracting images, a design which is painful to look at — these are deadly sins now. Websites should be smooth to navigate, informative, and pleasing to the eye.

Duplicate Text 

Copying images is permissible, but entire chunks of text will get you in trouble. You may also include videos unless they are hosted on YouTube.

Therefore, if you really need to use quotes, mark them properly. Small excerpts are legit when they are formatted correctly. Never try to pass someone else’s text as your own work — Panda is sure to notice. If the same violation is found on several pages, the algorithm will punish you.

Article Spinning 

Unscrupulous website owners may use automation to rewrite articles. This is supposed to help you circumvent duplication blocks. However, machine writing is blatantly erroneous. It produces variations of the same text by replacing words or phrases.

All too often, these tools produce a text which is impossible or hard to understand. Manual spinning is generally better, but the system is intelligent enough to detect it, too — unless the writer is really creative.

Unreliable, Questionable Content

Such content is useless or harmful. If Panda detects fraud or viruses, it blocks the source. Google has zero-tolerance for crooks. Your content must be unique, well-structured, and valuable to the user. You can check its effectiveness by using content audit services.

Google Penguin

Unlike Panda, the Penguin update is focused on link profiles. SEO managers may boost a site’s ranking with backlinks. However, there are several important conditions. Penguin weeds out shady links from dubious sources.

  1. Backlinks must be placed on websites related to the subject of your site.

  2. They must be inserted into content that is related to the linked pages.

  3. They must come from a credible source.

  4. They must originate from various domains.

Overall, not all backlinks are equally beneficial. Some may cause your ranking to plunge. While Penguin is entirely automatic, Google may also detect unnatural links manually. In this case, you will need to send them a request for reconsideration. So, what triggers this update?

Buying Links 

Avoid this foolhardy tactic at all costs. By purchasing links that pass PageRank, you violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This spells trouble.

Identical Anchor Text 

It is necessary to diversify the text within your backlinks. Identical phrases may be interpreted as manipulation. This is an essential aspect of your link profile.

Inferior Link Quality

Backlinks inside poor content is another red flag for Penguin. Make sure the context is relevant to your page and valuable to the user. It may not be possible to check every backlink. Still, website owners should do everything in their power to eliminate shady connections.

Stuffing With Keywords

Like Panda, Penguin also detects unnatural use of keywords. You have probably seen weird pages where lengthy sentences seem to be entirely composed of search queries. This is a glaring example of the offense.

Google Hummingbird

This update has improved the quality of the search overall. On the one hand, it detects the intent behind every search query. On the other hand, it considers the context surrounding keywords. As a result, users get more relevant results.

This update started the semantic search trend. Knowledge of search queries is insufficient. It is important to understand what every user really wants. With queries formulated as questions, the task is easy. You need to provide detailed and well-written replies with contextually related words. Other cases may be tricky.

Strategies for Recovery

In recent years, Google has become more adept at detecting shady SEO. It can distinguish between valuable and poor content, and provide results based on the search intent.

To appease Panda, work on the quality of content. Use special scanners to find backlinks that trigger Penguin. Remove these manually, or ask website owners to do it. If all else fails, there is Google Disavow.

Tidy up your keywords, so your texts look natural. Finally, look for semantic search-friendly phrases. These may be found in social media communities and forums devoted to the topic. You may also use special keyword finder tools.

Writers should prepare by researching their subjects. They ought to choose the right vocabulary and apply it properly. Do not overdo it, or you will sound like a pretentious pseudointellectual.

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