The Google algorithm experts are at it again. Earlier this month Google officially confirmed to Search Engine Land that it has performed another “quality update.” This quality update has appropriately been dubbed the “Phantom Update.” But what does it mean to the average website user? What does it entail for small business owners?
What is the “Phantom Update” and what does it mean for your site?
There are a fair amount of rumors concerning Google’s “Phantom Update” swirling around webmaster blogs and SEO chat rooms. In essence, the update has shown that Google has made changes to its core ranking algorithm. The recent changes are aimed at better processing website quality signals. In other words, quality will continue to “reign queen” on Google’s search ranking algorithm.
To date, Google has failed to provide specifics about how quality will now be assessed. However, previous statements made by Google show that a particular page or website’s quality is determined by a wide range of specific, individual factors. With these breadcrumbs in mind, we are quickly led down a path that leads straight to the following conclusion — Google has changed how it is weighing some of the core quality factors. Now, certain (albeit “phantom” or unknown) factors will be weighed more than less.
While this might seem like a bit of an ambiguous change, it is in fact quite meaningful. Since it’s release, the “Phantom Update” has caused a ranking switch in many website’s performance. There are a number of theories about what sites are performing better. One of the most prevalent theories is that informational, how-to, and news sites are going to be favored in the latest Google algorithm. In short, the Google update didn’t “go after” any type of particular site; rather, it was an update to the overall ranking algorithm itself, which leads us to a few pointers on how to improve your website’s quality.
Improving Website Quality to Enhance Your Google Ranking
Back in 2011, Google wrote a post on what it means to have a quality website. To recap, the post explored a number of vital questions that a “quality website” should answer.
- Would you trust the information presented on the website?
- Was the content written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does the website have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
By reviewing the above questions, exploring your website, and making changes, as needed, you can help to improve the ranking of your website. Keep in mind that Google will continue to make algorithmic changes to improve the quality of their search engine results. With this in mind, the best advice that we can give is to keep focusing on building the best website that you can build for your intended audience.