Data from Searchmetrics suggests that there may have been a recent unannounced update to the Google search algorithm, an update Searchmetrics is calling “Phantom III”. The search engine rankings and SEO visibility of many types of websites seem to have been adjusted not long after Google’s update of its Quality Rater Guidelines. These guidelines establish how Google defines high- and low-quality web pages. Searchmetrics suggests that the Google algorithm has been adjusted to be consistent with these quality guidelines.
What does this mean for your website? Paying attention to the quality of your content is more important than ever. Here are some specific changes that Searchmetrics has observed, and recommendations for what you can do about them.
Low Quality Content
Web pages that do not have enough information to satisfy users’ search intents have seen a decline in rankings and visibility. Category pages frequently have this problem. Category pages are used to group together a number of different subpages, but often do not contain much text.
For example, wambie.com is a gaming site that has category pages to group together links to different types of games. These pages have no text at all, only images that link to games. This website has suffered a large drop in SEO visibility.Recommendation: Provide users with enough high quality information to answer their questions.
With Google’s new focus on quality, duplicate content is less important than the accuracy and quality of content. An example of this shift can be seen in the recent increase in the SEO visibility of dictionary websites. Dictionary sites might contain pages for very similar words that have the same definition. It would not serve users better to remove words from the dictionary, just because another word with the same definition already exists. Recommendation: Duplicate content is not a major problem when the content is accurate, well-presented, and fulfills user intent. You should only use duplicate content if it is essential to the user experience.
The recent changes in Google’s quality guidelines also correlates to a large decrease in the rankings of web pages that use brand keywords but do not help users obtain useful information about these brands or allow users to directly purchase these brands.
For example, the gaming site allkeyshop.com contains many brand keywords for games. Users might land on the site expecting to get information about or purchase these brands. However, in order to actually purchase games, users are redirected to third-party websites. This is a suboptimal user experience for many users.Recommendation: Provide users with a great experience by only using brand keywords for products your site sells or about which your site contains valuable information.
Do you have any questions about Google’s new quality guidelines and recent algorithm adjustments? Send me an email!