Google Releases Quality Update

Earlier this month there was a lot of speculation that Google had released an algorithm update sometime around May 2nd, since many webmasters reported major rankings fluctuations that lasted throughout the weekend. Most theories suggested that it was the result of a Panda update. However, Search Engine Land columnist Barry Schwartz reported on May 5th that Google had issued an official statement saying that these fluctuations were not the result of Panda or any other Google update.

Coincidentally, two years ago (almost to the day), there were similar reports of huge rankings fluctuations. Although Google never confirmed any update, a week or two later Matt Cutts made an announcement on Twitter that Penguin 2.0 would roll out in the coming weeks. Glenn Gabe fittingly dubbed this as the “Phantom Update” since it initially slipped beneath the radar, it was never officially confirmed by Google. Gabe recently posted about the 2015 “update,” calling it “Phantom 2.”

Fortunately, Google didn’t hold out on us this time. Although there was no spam update (i.e. Panda, Penguin, etc.), Google recently confirmed that the fluctuations webmasters have been reporting are the result of some changes made to their core ranking algorithm – specifically how they process quality signals.

Keep your quality in check

If you recently lost traffic, you might want to consider improving the overall quality of your website. Unfortunately, Google didn’t provide any specific tips to help those that were impacted. But they do have a very informative help doc that outlines some of the core criteria for rating quality. I provided a breakdown below, but you can view the full doc here.

Useful and informative: Be sure to include any information that your visitors may find useful. If you’re a local business, you should always include address details, hours of operation, payment types accepted and contact information.

More valuable and useful than other sites: Try to offer more than “water is wet” content. Create content that provides a thorough understanding of a particular subject matter. Go beyond the basics.

Credible: Include testimonials, accolades, achievements, press mentions and anything else that lends credibility and reinforces your authority for a specific topic or industry.

High quality: Stay away from thin and/or duplicate content. If the Panda update didn’t scare you straight, in March, Google announced that they would be taking more action on doorway pages. Always create content for users – not search engines.

Engaging: Always balance SEO with a good user experience. Is your site easy to navigate? Are there too many ads on your site? Make sure that users can easily find what their looking for on your site.

Google also recommends avoiding the following:

  • Broken links and outdated information
  • Grammar or spelling mistakes
  • Heavy ad to content ratio
  • Spam (comment spam, forum spam, etc.)

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