A major algorithm update has taken place during November, where there has been some significant movement in rankings and visibility data for a number of websites and businesses. This update has been colloquially termed ‘The Phantom Update III’, and the effects mainly centered on the quality of webpages to ensure that users are getting a positive user interaction with the most relevant information provided for the searches made.
This update, which Google has not officially recognised or acknowledged, could be the response to the newly edited Quality Rater Guidelines which was announced on the 12th of November. As the name suggests, the Quality Rater Guidelines are the components Google adheres to in keeping their ranking algorithm consistent and in-check. The results of changes related to this guideline has been coined the “Phantom update”, due to Google’s elusive nature in announcing these updates or claiming ownership.
The first Phantom Update is thought to have occurred in May 2013 and provided a major shake-up to Google’s core algorithm. The next update took place earlier this year during May, which Google identified and claimed it as the “Quality Update”, giving insight to how this update was connected to the change made in 2013. Despite no formal announcement, the resulting evidence suggests that the new algorithm from last month is likely to be the continuation from May’s update. If Search Engine Optimisation is one of your top traffic sources, we'd recommend spending some time reading further.
Initial data shows that the November Phantom update has enhanced rankings for websites with high-quality pages, whilst pushing down sites with low quality, irrelevant content or spammy pages.
This update means that if your business fails to satisfy a search-user’s intent, your rankings is likely to have taken a hit, and will not recover unless you modify your pages so that it provides quality content fast and efficiently. Pages with poor user-experience, such as low-visible content or excessive pagination was a big contributor to lower visibility data for businesses.
Do you need to make any changes as a result of this update?
Consider what has been impacted the most, and what kind of modifications can help you recover and improve your rankings:
A manual audit of your website is perhaps the most complete way to approach this new update. By doing so, a list can be made of the number of user engagement issues that may have contributed to the drop in rankings. Based on the section above, we are able to breakdown a simple guideline which businesses can use to try and recover if they have been penalised by the Phantom update.