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Many website owners will have been affected by the recent updates of Google Penguin and Panda. They will have either noticed a large increase or reduction in traffic flow to their site. To notice a considerable reduction in site traffic can be a devastation, especially if you do not know the cause of it.

Google Penguin and Panda are based on two different algorithms. Panda is targeted at poor quality content sites that depend on exact match of their domain names, whilst Penguin is targeted at site spam – webmasters who engage in building backlinks by spamming forums, blog commenting and general black-hat SEO.

Google Penguin

The latest Penguin update was made in October. It is aimed at websites that contain scraped content, cloaked links, and content stuffed with keywords. Google has been modifying its algorithms to nullify the activities of webmasters who are dedicated to creating spam backlinks, but the latest update suggests that Google is attacking relentlessly at such webmasters. They have also made it clear that websites that do not take part in such malpractices are not affected. They have also developed a tool specifically to give anyone who want to clean up their website to remove all links they believe might be spam.

Google Panda

The latest Panda update came out in September 2012, and Google stated that 2.4% of English queries were affected by the update. Compared to previous updates, this latest one has had the most impact. Website  owners are constantly reporting that their sites are disappearing from Google search results. Those who have depended on traffic from Google have experienced a massive slowdown in incomes. The purpose of Panda is to penalize poor quality websites and reward those that have rich content. The filters are run periodically, and at any given time, a website with poor quality content, and totally dependent on exact match domain can disappear from the radar. Conversely, websites with great content see a rise in their ranking, their position in search results, and consequently in their traffic – that is the theory! However, I have noticed many cases where search queries have returned many pages from the same website occupying the top positions. There are also instances when a query returns several 30-seconds Youtube videos. Does that equate to better quality in search results?

Google Disavow Link Tool

To improve the performance of their website and consequently start to increase traffic to their website, Google encourages site owners to utilize the Disavow tool. Put simply, the tool allows site owners to create text files, listing all URLs they think are spam links. For example, if you want to disavow the URL www.yoursite.com, simply enter it on a text file – each URL must be entered on a new line. Comments can be added using a # tag, for instance, to notify Google that every effort had been made to eliminate certain backlinks with success. Webmasters are encouraged not to disavow links they are uncertain of their authenticity. One contentious point is that website owners may utilize this tool to gain unfair advantage over their competitor. Once the file is uploaded, Google will re-index and crawl your website again!

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