Most website owners have at least some level of awareness that Googles’ search index is built on a search algorithm that allows it to rank a website according to its relevance to the end user. If you operate a website and rely on the traffic received from Google, then it’s always in your own self interest to stay in the loop when it comes to any Google algorithm change.
Having said this, you might have heard about this, it may have gone totally unnoticed, and for some of us, it had a major impact. But recently Google released what has been termed the Phantom update. It hasn’t gotten as much attention as the more famous wildlife, Penguin and Panda, but had substantial impact all the same for more than a handful of websites.
The good news is that most search algorithm updates aren’t nearly that dramatic. Google says they perform between 500-600 updates yearly, and the majority are very insignificant, and go largely unnoticed.
This one is between those. Let’s take a peek at what the Phantom update was all about, and how you can react if need be.
What is the Google Phantom update?
It appears that Phantom was all about poor quality pages. Pages that had a dependence on “clickbait” headlines, thin content, tons of poor user-generated content and old, out of touch and non-relevant comments were the first to feel this wrath of Phantom.
Some of the more well-known sites suffered with this update as well. Sites like HubPages, WikiHow, Answers.com and a few others took a significant hit.
Other items that got the attention of Phantom were thin content accompanied by related articles listings, tons of stacked videos, lots of curated content added as-is, and pages with far too many ads.
Key takeaways for your use
If you think that you may have fallen victim to the Phantom update, the first thing you’ll want to do is to perform a sitewide content audit. Once you have the data showing you which of your pages were affected, fix or delete this content. Often times in the case of old stale content, it’s better to lose it entirely than to try to apply a band-aid.
The solution here is to make sure your content reflects the best information you can offer to your audience, and that it is not flooded with advertising and extraneous material. Do this and you’ll no longer be bothered by Phantoms!
It is always useful to maintain a reasonable level of knowledge of any Google algorithm changes. This allows you the best chance to execute your content planning and marketing in a way that gives you the best opportunity to provide useful information not only for your visitors but in way that conforms to Google expectations. Organic traffic is always great traffic to have. It converts well, pure and simple.