‘What does it mean to the businesses and search marketers?’
Google’s on a roll. From the “Mobilegeddon” update last month to its recent secretive “Phantom 2” algorithm update, it’s delivering the best possible search results to users. And then going back for more. Google silently tweaks its algorithm much frequently than most marketers imagine.
While the Mobilegeddon algorithm update was designed to boost the rankings of mobile friendly sites on mobile devices, Google’s Phantom 2 update will penalize sites with low quality content, specifically impacting “how-to” style content. Additionally, the impact will be felt by the entire domain not just standalone low quality website pages.
What “Phantom” should mean for Search marketer?
It’s a swift silent punisher of sites with thin content. They will lose the bulk of their rankings, traffic and conversions overnight.
What does Phantom do to the actual business?
- Your entire website is punished or sand-boxed
- You rapidly lose a lot of traffic
- You can’t see your high traffic ranking keywords on Google search results pages (SERPs)
- Traffic conversions drop faster than you think
- Your Return on Investment (ROI) disintegrates
Essentially, you lose almost everything online you were working on the site (whether intentional or unintentional).
It sounds scary, right?
Reasons why a website is hit by Google Phantom 2 algorithm
1. Sites with Low Quality Content
Google has been cautioning everyone for quite some time now with Panda algorithm updates. Sites that add very little or no value to the audience are hit with the Phantom 2 algorithm update. This includes poor representation and lack of uniqueness in the content to the users.
If your website content is not able to provide value to the audience, the engagement level is bound to be low on the website. The Phantom update emphasizes this fact. And the current Phantom 2 updates are a lot more strict than Panda updates
3. User Experience (UX)
- While content is one major aspect, others include the website load time, 404 errors, user flow, page architecture (design), color combinations, user navigation all of which should be taken very seriously by the webmasters. Make sure the website functions perfectly without distracting your audience and the search engines
- Supplement, template content or using auto generate content tools slanders the uniqueness and the usefulness of the content for users. Marketers should be very careful and should maintain the relevance of the content for the users
- Use of distractive and/or sponsored ads: Ads are meant to help users make the right decisions or provide information they intend to use during the buying process. Many businesses overdo by forcing users to click on these ads
- Affiliate networks, which keep on bombarding and showcasing users with irrelevant ads
- Sometimes ad links and content are in the same flow & color and users can’t determine the difference. Applying these tactics hurts the sites rather than helping. Remember, Google has already included human bots in deciphering these tactics
- Pop-up’s annoy the audience if not used judiciously. Google algorithm has been optimized to identify these
- Pages only containing images and videos without considering the theme of the webpage or over exposing the aspect of rich media are a negative impact
- Pages with just links that point to subdomains or other websites with less/no content, are of little help. No more old school link farm techniques
4. No Corrective Action Taken
If your website has been hit by Google Panda or had elements hit by the update earlier, and you have done nothing to make content more appealing, fresh, and unique to the users, Phantom 2 will definitely have an impact.
5. Duplicate Content and Canonical issues
Happens frequently but often ignored by webmasters. Make sure you remove duplicate pages/content. Just remove them or block duplicate content from search engine indexing. Use proper canonical tags to make sure that one version of pages exist.
6. Doorway Pages
Doorway pages–Don’t try to deceive Search Engines and create similar pages to gain multiple rankings on SERPs. Google is smart enough to identify these and punish websites accordingly. Read here
7. User Generated (spam content)
Make sure user-generated conversations are relevant and checked for spam. Lots of low quality and thin ineffective user generated content raises an alarm and will be hit by the Phantom update. Ensure that community/forums are not used as junkyards for link and ad promotions. Have guidelines for the users to comment. Do periodic checks and edit/remove comments, which have negative user experiences.
More to consider
- Understand Your Target Audience/Personas before you write content. Attribute content across the funnel of the buyer’s journey
- Have in place a content marketing strategy and plan. Make sure you generate genuine and unique content for the users, not for search engines
- Try to develop a mix of content/asset types to keep users engaged. Distribute your content to relevant channels where your target audience generally visits. Content is King, but Distribution is ‘Queen’
- Start with small. If you have constraints generating content, take small steps. Use Social Media to interact with your audience
- Optimize your online channels Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., and reach out to your audience
- Generate small content pieces. The traditional rule for audience engagement is 80/20. Eighty percent of your content should be for your audience, and 20% should be for your business (sales, marketing, self-promotion, etc.)
- Have a social calendar in place to communicate with your audience
- Regular Website Health Check up – Make sure all the technical aspects of the website are taken care of like page load time, design, navigation, etc. Regular checks on website hygiene ensures removing any major issues and creates better user and search engine experience
- Make sure you track your content performance using analytical tools
- Conduct regular analytics audits to make sure you are on top of your user engagement metrics. Understand what your audience needs and generate content accordingly
At Position2 we utilize an Integrated Digital Marketing Approach to make sure our clients achieve premium results. Our proprietary Website Calibrator™ technology, a 41-point technical SEO audit, keeps our client websites equipped for any Search Engine algorithm updates.