Website redesign and optimization would be sorely needed by webmasters whoâ€™ve experienced sudden ranking drops with an update about which Google was initially tightlipped.
Towards the end of April and the start of May 2015, search experts and webmasters did notice a significant algorithmic update which Google never confirmed initially. It was only when a significant drop in rankings was noticed for some websites that people realized something was going on. Using the available clues, experts tried to piece together what had happened.
Update Targeting Mobile-Friendly Sites too
What seemed obvious was that it wasnâ€™t an effect of the mobile-friendly update Google launched in April 2015. Thatâ€™s because mobile-friendly sites were also among the websites affected. The suspicion then turned towards Panda and Penguin. Since the various versions of these algorithm updates have shaken search results in the past, such a drastic but unannounced rankings drop was thought to be caused by one of these.
But Google denied this, though they came short of explaining what exactly was going on. They did say that this was part of the minor changes they keep bringing in every now and then. However, traditionally, such minor changes have not brought about drastic SERP falls and rises.
The Phantom Returns!
Webmasters and experts began calling it another Phantom update after another similar kind of silent update that struck in 2013. Closer examination revealed that the sites affected had issues with content quality and user-friendliness. That was the only consistent trait noticed in the penalized websites. If you remember, the 2013 Phantom update also focused on content issues.
Finally, Google did admit by around mid-May that changes were made to its main ranking algorithm to process quality signals of websites better. Some experts then began calling it the Quality Update. It wasnâ€™t a spam-targeted update, Google said.
So how is Google assessing the quality of websites? As we mentioned earlier, some experts have noticed poor content sites were drastically affected. Content could therefore be a major target, but investigations reveal that other elements were also targeted.
Quality Defining Elements
Google determines the quality of a site from various factors including content. Among the pages hit were sites with tag pages that contained a truckload of links leading to other content pages in their own sites. Useful, genuine content was scarce, so itâ€™s no wonder that they were targeted. These pages also had related tags, and there were also pop-ups appearing as users reached the landing pages from organic search. Before the update, though, they were strangely ranking reasonably well.
Websites with outdated designs and small fonts were hit too. Websites ranking for navigational queries also suffered. There were also sites with ad-heavy pages that were affected â€“ landing pages linking prominently to pages containing large amounts of text ads.
Improve Quality and User-Friendliness
Websites that lacked quality and were not user-friendly got targeted by the latest Phantom update. So, you now know what to do to ensure your website is safe, and if it has already suffered drop in ranking how to bring it back to the top.
Get your website redesigned and content quality improved as fast as possible to stay insured from sudden jolts.