Every blogger should read Google’s quality guidelines. There have been at least nine major updates to Google’s “Panda” algorithms since they were introduced February 2011 to purge search results of duplicate content and low quality content. Google’s Penguin Update launched on April 24, 2012 was a change to Google’s search results designed to punish pages that have been spamming Google.
Though my sites were not affected by these updates, there have been bloggers posting to the WordPress.com support forums, who have sites that do appear to have been caught out in these algorithm changes, which are aimed at ridding the SERPs of spam, low quality content, duplicate content, and/or over-optimized content.
Earlier this year, Google revealed that we sent out over 700,000 messages to site owners in January and February 2012 via our free webmaster console at http://google.com/webmasters .. well above 600,000 were for obvious blackhat spam, and under 25,000 of the messages were for unnatural links
At the SMX Advanced conferenceAdvanced conference in Seattle, Google’s web spam chief Matt Cutts told Search Engine Land Editor-In-Chief Danny Sullivan that Google’s definition of a “penalty” is when manual action is taken against a site, Google doesn’t use the term “penalty” but insetad say “manual action.” Matt Cutts also said neither Panda nor Penguin are penalties; they’re both algorithm updates.
Danny Sullivan: What’s the deal with Penguin. Is it a penalty?
Matt Cutts: We look at it something designed to tackle low-quality content. It started out with Panda, and then we noticed that there was still a lot of spam and Penguin was designed to tackle that. It’s an algorithmic change, but when we use a word like “penalty,” we’re talking about a manual action taken by the web spam team — it wasn’t that.
We don’t think of it as a penalty. We think of it as, “We have over 200 signals, and this is one of the signals.” — Matt Cutts On Penalties Vs. Algorithm Changes, A Disavow-This-Link Tool & More