Once you can get past the fact that Google enjoys naming high-tech algorithms after cute zoo critters, you can begin to establish exactly how the recently launched Google Panda and Penguin updates affect your website.

At the core are the differences that exist between the two systems and what these mean for your website. Whether or not you like, or even agree with these changes, really doesn ‘t matter. The important part is that you understand how these systems work so that you can best optimize your website and make sure you don ‘t lose out.

In short, Panda updates target pages that are low in quality. These pages aren ‘t necessarily spam, but they don ‘t offer any value either. The first of these updates was launched in February 2011 and was referred to as the Farming Update. It helped to decrease the amount of similar content on the internet that was submitted to numerous sites to boost the click count. As of now, there have been 20 Panda updates.

You may be wondering, “Do I have any of this so-called thin content?” Sometimes, website owners know exactly what they ‘re putting out there isn ‘t quality content, so they expect to suffer the consequences. But even unsuspecting website managers don ‘t always realize that what they ‘re doing is up for penalty. It takes just one or two pages of thin content, and your whole site can be penalized.

Here are a few factors to be aware of:

The content must be high in quantity and quality
The content must be accurate and relevant
The site must have a low bounce rate
High click-through rates for each page
Regular traffic to the site
Consistent clicks from organic traffic

The bottom line: Google ‘s Panda is looking for high-quality content that makes your site relevant and keeps users engaged. Always ask yourself when posting a blog or article, “Is this content valuable to my readers?” If not, think before you post.

How about the Penguin update? Is it just as forthright in penalizing pages that don ‘t fit the bill? Yes. We suppose this is Google ‘s way of setting the precedence.

With Penguin, there have only been two updates so far, and both are largely focused on offsite work such as internal and outbound links. It also picks up on factors such as exact-match anchor text, exact-match domains and low-quality article marketing. Since the Penguin update is the more subtle of the two, it actually hit website owners harder because they weren ‘t sure what the updates were looking at. Link building is at the core of this update, so the better able you can diagnose the problem, identify the bad links and build in accurate, high-quality links, the better your website will rank with Penguin.

The Panda and Penguin updates are the new standard for Google. While it certainly takes more effort on the webmaster ‘s part, the updates force people to stay on their toes and keep producing quality content to make the internet a brighter, more interesting place to be.