Phantom Update Test Results

Filed in Blog by on July 19, 2015

 
Google released an update to it’s core search engine algorithm in April/May 2015.

The algorithm wasn’t announced in advance, like many of the other big updates: e.g. EMDs, Panda, Penguin and so on.

Google did confirm after this big update that it had made changes but it declined to give much detail. There was a significant shake up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and this is what we found based on our testing:

In summary, the update wasn’t Panda but it was related to much of what Panda focused on: i.e. On Page content. This meant that low value pages dropped.

Here’s what action steps you need to take if you were affected:

 

1. Check The Quality Of Your Content

If you’ve got many pages on your website thare are just being used to as keyword fodder – i.e. it’s content that has been created primarily for the search engines, and which doesn’t have much value for an end user, then either beef it up with real content, delete the page or no-index it.

I’ve mentioned before that a good way to build up authority on your website is to increase the number of pages that you website has indexed in the search engines. But if those pages are full of garbage then it can now be doing you more harm than good. Don’t use automated tools to create hundreds or thousands of additional pages with poorly written content on them.

 

2. User Interaction On Your Pages

Is there any interaction on these pages? If not then delete them of no-index them. If there was some interaction, e.g. you’ve got legitimate comments, then make that content of value. If it’s too much hassle, get rid or no-index it for now. Then when you do have time to add value, re-index it.

You can use the robots.txt file on each page of your website to achieve this. It’s a small file that basically tells the search engines whether they’re welcome to crawl that particular page on your site or not. The robots.txt files doesn’t stop every search engine but the major ones will pay attention to it.

 

3. Avoid Doorway Pages

I created a post on this so if you’re not sure what a doorway page is then click here to read it.

 

4. Ads and Affiliate Links

Don’t litter your page with them. It’s been known for a while that running Google Adsense on your website will bring about a small negative effect on your rankings.

The search engines don’t like websites that use affiliate links. They’d rather you advertise using PPC (Pay Per Click) then send you free traffic to promote your affiliate links!

Here’s my tip: Don’t put ads or affiliate links on your website until you’ve reached the front page of the search results.

Firstly, it doesn’t make sense because you won’t be getting enough free organic traffic to justify having them there and secondly, for the reason above, it’ll just make it harder to rank.

Leave the ads and affiliate links to when you get onto the front page of the search results. If you’re determined to keep your existing ads then make sure that your content covers at least 90% of the page.

 

5. Content Length In Posts/Pages

Avoid thin content in your posts and pages.

There’s no fixed amount of words that you should be using on each of your pages but 500 words plus is a considered a good industry standard.

And don’t use spun (machine generated) content unless you’re doing it manually. Your content needs to be readable!