Mountain View, CA–Another update has hit the internet following Mobilegeddon. The new Google “Phantom” algorithm update is targeting certain sites and those properties are experiencing a steep drop in search referrals, according to a news report published by NBC. Unlike Google Panda, the algorithm unleashed in February 2011, which targeted “thin” or “low quality sites,” this algo is reportedly more ruthless.
Sites negatively impacted include HubPages, eHow, WikiHow, and Answers.com, all of which have seen severe drops in traffic. HubPages, which is comprised of some 870,000 miniblogs, experienced a 22 percent drop in Google referred traffic through the week following May 3rd.
Google Phantom Rolls Out, Targets Certain Sites
This update, which the search giant has yet to acknowledge, does not appear to be related to Panda or Penguin, and, is targeting sites with “how-to” information, even those that are well-written. The apparent correlation, according to Glenn Gabe, a digital marketing expert and search engine optimization analyst, is sites which are heavy with supplemental information, clickbait articles, and pages stacked with video content, are all being seriously affected.
This update, dubbed “Phantom 2” by Gabe, came without warning, although Gary Illyes, of Google’s Webmaster Trends team, did allude to a core algorithm change at SMX Sydney earlier this week. The release occurred approximately one week after the roll-out of Mobilegeddon, a new addition among the more than 200 signals the search engine uses to determine organic rank, which promotes mobile friendly sites over desktop versions.
Since 2011, how-to sites have struggled to remain relevant in organic search, something made more difficult due to the Google Knowledge Graph. This compilation of information renders steps or targeted information in a box at the top of the organic search page and allows consumers to get information without having to click through links. Type a search into the Google Omnibox for “how to boil an egg,” which renders the steps provided by Martha Stewart’s site. “This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the Web and understands the world a bit more like people do,” an official 2012 Google blog post explained about the graph.
The extent and severity of the update isn’t yet fully known and there has been no official word from the search giant, either confirming its existence, or, its plans for the future. It’s apparent that Google’s campaign against spam, thin content, and clickbait continues.