This week, Google confirmed what many suspected: search engine results changed at the beginning of May 2015. What we didn’t know is that the change was based on how Google assesses content quality.

Updates – Real or Phantom?

Back in May of 2013, several SEO professionals stated that they saw an update that Google never confirmed. That was commonly referred to as the “Phantom” update. Although many thought it was related to the famous Panda and Penguin updates that happened in the same timeframe, Google denied it.

At the beginning of this month there were new rumors of an unnamed, or “Phantom 2,” update. Just as in 2013, it was suspected that it was related to a major update that occurred in the same timeframe: Mobile-geddon which was dated April 21, 2015. However, several SEO professionals stated that their data did not support this as an offshoot of the mobile update. The data that I have looked at is in agreement with some of these ardent SEO detectives. The research has proven to be accurate since Google has now confirmed ranking changes based on content quality.

Google also announced an update on May 8 called the “Doorway” update. This was a non-event for G5 customers because of our philosophy of creating websites and pages that add value to the user experience versus tricking search engines. This was reflected in our data by a steady traffic pattern. Some fearful SEO professionals in the online retail space have not reported major changes in their data either — some suggesting that the Doorway update was a “dud.”

The Quality Update

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, Google confirmed the Quality update this week, although they did not give the specific date that it occurred. Why did they call it the Quality update?

Apparently it was a tweak of the core algorithm in how it processes quality signals. Conjecture is that they have changed the weighting of the quality signals in the algorithm.

G5 websites should not be negatively impacted by the Quality update because our customers’ sites meet the quality criteria set out by Google. This is how Google defines quality content:

“The key to creating a great website is to create the best possible experience for your audience with original and high quality content. If people find your site useful and unique, they may come back again or link to your content on their own websites. This can help attract more people to your site over time.

As you begin creating content, make sure your website is:

Useful and informative: If you’re launching a site for a restaurant, you can include the location, hours of operation, contact information, menu and a blog to share upcoming events.

More valuable and useful than other sites: If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training.

Credible: Show your site’s credibility by using original research, citations, links, reviews and testimonials. An author biography or testimonials from real customers can help boost your site’s trustworthiness and reputation.

High quality: Your site’s content should be unique, specific and high quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.

Engaging: Bring color and life to your site by adding images of your products, your team, or yourself. Make sure visitors are not distracted by spelling, stylistic, and factual errors. An excessive amount of ads can also be distracting for visitors. Engage visitors by interacting with them through regular updates, comment boxes, or social media widgets.”

Build your website to tell users a story that they can engage with, and you are on the path to quality in Google’s eyes (and algorithms).