What is the Google Phantom Update

What is the Google Phantom Update?


According to phonejust, the Google Phantom Update describes an unannounced change to the core algorithm (core algorithm). The first of these updates occurred in the spring of 2015. Specialists in the areas of SEO noticed significant changes in the SERPs. However, the search engine denied the existence of such an update for a very long time. As a nameless update of the heart algorithm, the Phantom Update is accompanied by a number of different speculations. In fact, there are said to have been several unofficial changes since 2015.

Why does the Phantom Update not have a name?

Changes right at the heart of the search engine: The Phantom Update from Google includes specific changes to the search engine’s algorithms, which control the mechanisms of search results. This is why experts also refer to the phenomenon as a core algorithm update. The specific mode of operation of the algorithm falls within the scope of the search engine’s corporate secret. Therefore, relevant adjustments to the content of the core algorithm bring to mind a topic that Google is resolutely silent about. It is known that this revision concerned the signals with which Google judges the quality of a website and thus its ranking.

What is different about the Phantom Update compared to Panda and Penguin?

Google provided explanations for each of the major updates announced. However, the changes in the context of the phantom update cannot be clearly described because they do not focus on a specific area of ​​a website.

For example, the updates as part of the Panda and Penguin updates were primarily directed against low-quality content and low-quality links. The changes to the core algorithm, on the other hand, took place completely faceless and nameless and make the phantom update a barely tangible construct. However, webmasters could feel the effects of the update in the ranking of their domain.

What is the purpose of the changes?

Quality is the linchpin when it comes to offering the user a personalized search result. The search via Google should always lead the user to a relevant result. That is why the algorithm that works in the background is constantly being perfected by the search engine.

The Google Phantom Update also aims to improve quality signals. The group wants to provide every user with relevant information. A redirection to pages that do not offer the user any added value is thus to be counteracted.

What were the effects of the Phantom Update?

Considerable losses in ranking and visibility – in the spring of 2015 numerous domains recorded strong shifts in the SERPs and visibility losses of up to 60%. The changes affected smaller as well as larger websites and ranged from purely informative platforms to well-known brands. Regardless of the popularity of these websites, the ranking in the SERPs changed massively.

The changes to the core algorithm therefore left a lasting impression. Because the loss of visibility and the falling rankings could not be assigned clear factors, there was a real panic among webmasters.

At the same time, incorrect local search results in Germany and the USA attracted attention. SEO specialists suspected it was a change in the core algorithm to combat map hacks. Our blog article “ Was the Google Phantom Update a bug? ”

Is the Phantom Update a quality update?

Webmasters and SEOs have long been in the dark about the existence, scope and origin of the Google Phantom Update. So the assumption was in the room that the changes happened in connection with the Penguin or Panda update. However, Google denied this assumption.

In addition, the search engine was vehemently reluctant to confirm the update. Only after multiple inquiries from Search Engine Land magazine did the group make a statement. Google acknowledged changes to the core algorithm that are used to evaluate quality signals. However, the exact change in the ranking factors and their weighting when assessing websites remains hidden.

Due to the statement and the objective of the changes, Search Engine Land called the phenomenon a quality update. This quality update concerns the measures that the search engine took in May 2015.

In the parlance of SEO experts, the term phantom update also established itself, which acts as an encroachment for a number of further adjustments to the core algorithm that occurred in the course of the next few years.

How many Phantom updates have there been?

A number of phantom updates over a period of three years are associated with the noticeable changes to the core algorithm. Not all updates were officially confirmed by the search engine.

  1. The Quality Update, also known as the Phantom Update, took place in early May 2015
  2. The Phantom II update may have happened in July 2015
  3. The Phantom Update III is said to have been released in December 2015
  4. Google confirmed the Phantom Update IV from May 2016
  5. The Phantom Update V is said to have been rolled out in February 2017
  6. An official core algorithm update was initiated in March 2018.

How should SEO react to the Google Phantom Update?

With the quality criteria of the Webmaster Guidelines, Google is clearly committed to the ideal of a high-quality website. A hasty reaction to the Google Phantom Update would not have been effective.

It is important to keep an eye on the general and long-term improvement of a website. The most important message to webmasters in the context of Phantom Updates is the provision of high quality content. Elementary factors are the user value and the unique content.

Unique content in focus:

Google doesn’t want content that was created for a search engine. It’s about providing unique content, that is, high-quality and relevant content for users. What Google rates as high quality is defined in detail in the webmaster guidelines, in the questions from webmasters and in older blog posts.

User value:

Technical aspects of a domain such as user-friendliness, mobile optimization and crawlability are important for a good ranking. It is important to adapt to the latest advances made by Google. Webmasters should not neglect long-term optimization.

The Google Phantom Update reminds webmasters with the adjustments to the core algorithm that they should react to the changes in the context of the Panda and Penguin updates.

What’s up with the 2018 Phantom Update?

The official core update of March 12, 2018 led to major changes in the search results. Webmasters noticed changes in ranking as early as 2017, the pattern of which suggested the Phantom Update. Google only confirmed the 2018 update, but is silent about adjustments to the core algorithm in the previous year.

Who are the winners and losers of the Phantom Update?

The quality update from 2015, which Google rolled out at the beginning of May, hit different domains. Interesting tendencies emerged, which gave rise to numerous speculations.

winner loser
Extensive category and counseling directories appear to have benefited from the effects of the Phantom Update. The visibility of well-known brands and domains also increased. Websites that had previously lost visibility also had a beneficial effect on this move. Advice and information pages in particular have lost a lot of visibility. Small and medium-sized websites were also affected by the adverse effects of the quality update. In addition, this observation was shown for domains that had previously seen increasing visibility and suddenly lost.

What is the Google Phantom Update