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Google’s “Phantom” or “Quality” Algorithm Update Lowers Websites Rankings Badly

June 23, 2015 | Neha Arora
Google’s April algorithm update “Mobilegeddon” was designed to favor mobile-friendly sites. Hence, the fall in the search engine rankings of smartphone-friendly sites in a week after the mobile update was quite a shock.

Websites, both desktops and even mobile friendly ones, have lost rankings in the latest search results – especially those websites that don’t boast of rich, informative, value-added content.



While it is not Mobilegeddon algorithm that is causing the mysterious downfall in traffic, webmasters are wondering about this secretive algorithm update. Many search engine optimization experts are calling it “Phantom Update” because of its mysterious factor and the fact that something did happen that caused the search engine rankings to drop.

Google Quality Update

Google confirmed to Search Engine Land regarding the “changes to its core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals.”

Various low-quality sites are being penalized for their poor content. In fact, it would be better to aptly call the “Phantom Update” as the “The Quality Update.” After all, how else one can explain the declined traffic of HubPages, a site that offers a collection of thousands of well-written mini blogs.

According to the post by Paul Edmondson, HubPages noticed its Google search traffic drop dramatically to 22 percent on May 3, 2015. According to the stats by HubPages, Google is not accessing quality according to the page level. As per the mini blogs site, professionally edited highest-rated hubs suffered as badly as the lowest-rated, unedited content.

This indicates that the current “Phantom” or “The Quality Update” is ruthless and is sparing no one. Quality is not being judged at the page level. Rather a little bit of spam content on an informative site is inviting the wrath of Google’s new algorithm. In other words, low-quality content in some sections of a website can have an adverse impact on the whole website’s rankings.

Further HubPages post adds that Google is mostly targeting how-to sites. Sites that have lost traffic in the latest update, according to Searchmetrics include About.com, e-How, Answers.com and Wikihow. Whereas sites that have gained Traffic include Wikia, Wonderhowto, Instructables, Epicurious among others.

The Big daddy of search engines, Google has never revealed how an algorithm determines page or website quality. It’s a secret. However one thing that cannot be denied that every time an algorithm update has taken place, it’s objective has been to enhance the user experience. Google on its part, does provide tips on building high-quality sites.

Whether you have been hit by the rankings downfall earlier this month or not, it makes sense to strive to build a better website that enhances users’ experience. Here are some of the things you can do to ensure high visibility of your site:

• Improve the quality of your content
• Add informative, original content
• Invest in a mobile friendly responsive website
• Get rid of pages with low quality content
• Remove the duplicate content. It is fatal for your site.
• Ensure the content on your site is well edited devoid of grammatical errors.
• Add relevant intra-site links
• Don’t stuff in keywords. Overkill of keywords can put you in a fix with Google.
• Use the metas carefully with keyword enriched meta tags, heading tags, alt tags and persuasive call to action
• Keep a close watch on broken links and error pages.

If you keep your SEO health in check and follow the best practices without taking short cuts, you will be able to protect yourself from Google updates, whether pre-announced or hidden. The secret lies in getting the basics right. Build a solid foundation to be able to scale up and make use of the latest technology trends and Google updates.

 

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