So earlier this month we all noticed a significant change in the rankings of several pages on Google. It was no random update to algorithms like panda and penguin, which has been confirmed by Google, rather an update to the core guidelines of quality. Algorithms like Panda, Penguin and Pigeon focus on specific areas such as content, back links etc. This Phantom update, as being called by webmasters, focuses on the overall quality of the web page. Its being called Phantom as it is not a regular algorithm update, but has been implemented nonetheless, and has no official name by Google.
So how do we tackle with this algorithm? As I have always believed and said, algorithms are not penalties, rather guidelines by Google which will determine the ranking of your page. If we make efforts and adhere to these guidelines, our pages won’t be ‘penalized’. Google has always focused on providing organic and relevant results. In case you have noticed a significant drop in the ranking of your page, you may have to run a troubleshooting process throughout your page or website, for there may yet be certain discrepancies that may have evaded your notice.
There is no particular area that you may start or focus upon, as the new update does not target any specific areas. Though we don’t have much yet by Google as to where and what this phantom update is targeting, we can always make sure that the things we do know are checked and taken care of.
You can start with the content published on your site. There maybe certain pieces of content which may be having a negative impact on the SERP of your page. This can be something which is not too informative or useful for users, even misleading in certain cases, and is just there eating up space. Go through your content and make sure it is updated regularly and is something which would engage users in a positive manner.
Another area you can focus upon is back linking. Often even after heavy scrutinization, we fail to keep a check upon certain inorganic links leading back to our page. This may be due to informative and good quality content or related matter. Whatever may be the reason, certain sites create links routing back to your page. You can use Google tools to check which sites have made links connected to your page. Accordingly, you can ask the respective administrators to remove links. Before removing links you might want to consider the credibility of that page, as organic links from reputed pages can in fact work in your favor.
Regardless of the fact that it was an update to the core algorithm, as opposed to one of the channels like Panda or Penguin, it’s still an “update” in the feeling of delivering observable change. Since it is affirmed, I am naming it the Quality Update, rather than calling it the Phantom.
Google wouldn’t give specifics about how quality is presently evaluated. We know from past proclamations by Google that quality for a specific page or site is controlled by an extensive variety of individual components. It may be the case that Google is currently weighing some of those elements more and others less.