Google releases secretive algorithm update early May 2015, dubbed the “Phantom 2” update

Google continues their relentless push for search improvements and algorithm updates with a new round of secretive changes, pushed out in May 2015.

From the “Mobilegeddon” update last month in April, to this most recent hush-hush batch of silently released updates. After initially being asked to confirm the algorithm update, Google denied any changes. They later came back to confirm a quality based update occurred early May.

Names given to this algorithm update

  • Phantom 2 update – As this is the second algorithm update ever that Google has not confirmed
  • The Quality Update – We think this name is less relevant, because Panda & Penguin are also concerned with quality
  • Reverse Panda – This is a very apt name, since some SEOs have noticed the latest update has the effect of rewarding sites that produce quality content, whereas Panda was all about punishing sites that produce thin content.

What is the Phantom/Quality Update?

  • Google wouldn’t provide specifics in their press release about how quality is now assessed after the update.
  • We know from past statements by Google that quality for a particular page or site is determined by a wide range of individual factors. It is likely, given the change impact of the most recent update be that Google is now weighting some of those factors more and others less.
  • Google claims the update was not part of a Panda update.

Reported impacts of the Phantom2 update

  • Significant reported losses of organic traffic for some websites
  • How-to and informercial sites have reported a large negative impact – source
  • According to Yoast, you probably won’t see reports in the “manual actions” section in Google WMT relating to the Phantom2 udpate. This is due to the fact that it’s not a manual update, but could be the start of even more real time algorithm updates – Source

Conclusions and recommendations to optimise for the Phantom2 update

  • More than ever before, Panda and Penguin were concerned with quality content, but this update looks to be an extension of that, another layer of control that Google uses to reward or suppress websites on the quality of their content
  • Thin pages should be avoided (or no-indexed) at all costs. Pages you hope to rank, need to include at least 500 words of unique content, social shares, and links also help to boost the perceived value of page

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