You may have noticed this, it may have gone totally unnoticed, and for a few of us, it had a major impact. But recently Google rolled out what has been termed the Phantom update. It hasn’t gotten as much attention as the more famous creatures, Penguin and Panda, but had significant impact all the same for more than a few websites.
While Google says it does between 500-600 search algorithm updates a year, many of them are very minor, and attract little attention. Others, like the aforementioned critters, wreak havoc.
This one is between those. Let’s take a quick look at what the Phantom update was all about, and how you can respond if needed.
The Google Phantom update – What was it about?
Google warned us all that they were on the warpath for thin and poor content, and it looks like Phantom is another update designed to combat this pox on search engine results.
This included sites like HubPages, eHow, WikiHow, Answers.com and others. It is also looking to more domain oriented, meaning that more than the offending pages could be affected. Not good.
Several specific things got their attention this time around. A few of them are going to sound familiar to many who got burned in other recent Google updates. Pages with “thin” content, meaning scant content on the page designed merely to get a click or another action, were targeted. Also high on the list were pages with “clickbait” headlines, as well as lots of stacked videos, too much poor user-generated content, pages with tons of ads, or unedited curated pieces.
Key takeaways for your use
If you think that you may have fallen prey to the Phantom update, the first thing you’ll want to do is to perform a sitewide content audit. Once you’ve got the data showing you which of your pages were negatively affected, fix or delete this content. Often in the case of old stale content, it’s advisable to lose it entirely than to try to apply a band-aid.
What you want to do here is come out of this with your best foot forward, showing Google and all who arrive at your pages that it contains the most relevant and current content you can provide. Do that and you needn’t worry about Phantoms!