With all of the different ways Google can penalize you these days, it is easy to get confused about what you need to do to fix your mistakes. Between Penguin, Panda, Unnatural Link Penalties, and Manual Penalties, there are more ways to get in trouble than ever.
Google’s increasing strictness is far from a bad thing, but it is also getting increasingly complex which makes for confusion when trying to bounce back from a mistake.
Marie Haynes knows just how confusing it can be. She has been working in SEO and writing for SEOMoz for years, but even she got confused when trying to help someone with what she thought was a Penguin-related penalty. She then saw another respected writer make the same mistake in a recent article but confusing unnatural links penalties with Panda.
It seems we need to go to the root of these issues and break down what each of these different penalties are and how they are different from each other.
The Penguin Algorithm came about last April as a algorithm change aimed at fighting webspam, which explains the initial title “The Webspam Algorithm” and it mainly targeted sites participating in link schemes and other questionable linking practices, though it also looked for indications of keyword stuffing.
The Penguin Algorithm isn’t to be confused with an Unnatural Link Penalty. The main difference is that Unnatural Links Penalties are manually taken against you rather than by an automated algorithm. They mainly place these algorithms when they believe a site is attempting to manipulate search engine results through the creation of links. The real question is what causes Google to investigate your site.
It is widely believed that filing a spam report will flag a site for manual review, but others have guessed that Google monitors more cutthroat niches such as “payday loans” or casino sites and consistently manually checks for unnatural links. Thanks to Google’s secrecy, we may never know exactly what makes Google personally examine a site.
So what is the main difference between Penguin and Unnatural Links Penalties? It really all comes down to the different way algorithms act compared to penalties taken by a living breathing person. Algorithms view all sites the same and is effective almost immediately. All sites hit by an algorithmic penalty will see the damage within the day of the algorithm update. Manual penalties on the other hand are being placed against sites at all times, and can be appealed more easily than an algorithmic penalty.
You can always recover from any of these penalties with effort, as Marie Haynes shows in her article, but you have to clean up your page and your methods. SEOs can’t get away with participating in link schemes or engaging other black hat techniques anymore, and there is no way to cheat the search engines anymore.