Penguins and Pandas: A Black and White Issue

The news this week was that the Google “over-optimization” penalty that was fervently discussed over the past month or so is alive and kicking, and goes by the name of “Penguin.”

This morning, I was chatting with Bruce, and he said:

Did you notice both the notable algorithm updates were named after animals of the same color?

To which I said:

That’s because it’s a Black Hat/White Hat issue.

The lesson? Don’t do spam. Plain and simple.

Last week, I wrote a post about the over-dramatization and the anxiety over algorithm updates and what they mean. Every time Google makes an update, everyone wonders if SEO is dead.

While we could continue to give tip after tip of how to avoid the penalties of Google’s algorithm updates, the safest route is to simply stick with White Hat SEO (if you’re unsure of what that means to Google, look to its SEO guide); always trust your instinct on things that seem if-y; and be proactive about the maintenance of your site – including looking at things that may seem out of your control, like inbound links.

And none of this is really new news, which is why I’m not going to get into a lengthy post here. But if you want more insight on what Bruce believes is spammy in the eyes of Google and the new algorithm updates, he offers insight in this recent video:

So, what about those instances where it doesn’t seem like a black or white issue? What if you think you’ve been doing everything right and still get hit? Like I’ve said before, algorithms aren’t perfect. Algo updates hit hard and fast, and then tweaks are made following the initial release for improvements to targeting.

It looks like with the Penguin update, Google is gathering feedback and attempting to help those who believe their sites have been wrongly penalized by offering a place for people to complain.

So to recap:


= Don’t do spam.


= Don’t do spam.

What’s next? According to Bruce:

orka morgan

… which will almost guaranteed mean, once again, don’t do spam.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (10)
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10 Replies to “Penguins and Pandas: A Black and White Issue”

Thanks for the info, these updates have been wreaking havoc on websites, we wrote on the subject also

I am sorry, but looking at the serps these days, most of the site on the top are sites that have done just the opposite of what you and I would call “Google guidelines”. That old myth of just build quality content and they will come” is just that, a myth!

Penguin is a complete failure. One of the worst algorithm updates so far from Google.

Interesting observation on the colors. It all does come back to whether you are being black hat or white hat. I’ve always said that if you follow the Google guidelines you shouldn’t have a problem.

I got hit hard by that Penguin update, completely unfairly also on domains that have been online since 2000…with PR3 and up

Reason is because of bad IP’s from HOstgator, it is NOT a myth that a bad IP neiborhood can get you in trouble.

Google is NOT “no evil”….

These days things are getting more and more out of a webmaster’s control, and Google doesn’t care at all

So you say “That’s because it’s a Black Hat/White Hat issue.” so if they are just targeting black hat seo why don’t they call it the panther or the black bear update. It’s because they are targeting both.


Hi Jessica,

Bruce has given an example of Christmas card website linking to computers website is inorganic and might get the site penalized. What if our competitors are doing it for our website. I’m seeing websites buying lot of spam paid links on behalf of other websites. How can we control this ?

According to me, Google has just transferred its work to webmasters. Now they have an extra job of keep monitoring all the links and get the bad links removed even if they have no control over it.

What do you think about this issue . Kindly reply

The only problem I have with these updates is that now it seems that search results are less focused on providing what the user actually wants to read, and more focused on just trying to weed out bad SEO. Apart from sites like Wikipedia (which is FINE,) The top 10 results in our industry are now sites who seem to only be ranking because their site has the keyword listed in the URL and densely written throughout their website. The quality of their product certainly does NOT seem to be better.

As always, you deliver great content. The problem with these most recent updates from what we have seen reported across the web, is that its very possible to have someone in a lower cost labour country to comment spam blogs with the anchor (for example “Bruce Clay” or similar) and spike 1,000,000 links and flag a GWT warning.

The task of removing such links manually by requesting (or begging) for them to be removed would take years.

I totally appreciate what Google is trying to do, but it was them who started the whole Page Rank thing in the first place.

Perhaps focusing on the good content, siloing strong and not giving a rip about who links to you from where is (using non keyword specific anchor text / laundering page rank into the silo) could still be a good approach, but it seems that they have in fact drawn that line in the sand that negative SEO is now a new industry. Sad to think this is where it has come…

Cheers – Dallas

Great video, but I would like to interject one thing. After reviewing the tops sites in the organic listings, past Google’s Penguin update, most of them, i.e. (Most), not all, have the main keyword as a branded name, for example, this sites linking structure main keyword word would be Bruceclay.


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