May 15, 2015 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

According to NBC, an undisclosed “phantom” algorithm update in Google search is rolling out, which is said to be affecting publishers of “how-to” style content. A collection of over 870,000 miniblogs site namely HubPages, that also contains content about wide varieties of topics, saw it Google search traffic drop 22% from one week to another on May 3rd.

The other sites that have witnessed significant drops in traffic over past couple of weeks are eHow, WikiHow and

From New Jersey’s G-Square Interactive, Glenn Gabe is the one behind coining the phrase “Phantom” update. The reason behind this is that the update came without any warning, and Google is yet to acknowledge its existence. Gabe has determined by analyzing the data that this update is not related to Panda or Penguin. However, it has been noticed that similar types of thin content targeted by Panda are also being targeted by “Phantom.” Gabe also pointed out that the clickbait articles, sites with abundance supplementary information, pages of stacked videos, and pages difficult to navigate have all lost visibility in recent weeks.

This update is said to be more “ruthless” in its approach, unlike Panda and Penguin, which target individual pages rather than entire domains. This update apparently has no problem in punishing entire domains for a few instances of thin content.

“When you have a domain-level algorithm update or ranking change, it can impact the whole site… Pages that should be drawing well could also be pulled down in the results.”

Though, Google has not announced anything on this update, but at the SMX Sydney this week Gary Illyes, from Google’s Webmaster Trends team, alluded to there being a recent change that’s part of a core algorithm update.

With Google’s Knowledge Graph already being problematic due to detracting traffic from sites for “how to” searches, this “Phantom” update will create problems and challenges in being a content publisher. Even Gabe, who analyzes search data for a living, admits to not being able to predict what business will look like tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

Google “Phantom” Algorithm Targeting Informational Content Being Rolled Out!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic Buzz as one of the well know digital marketing blog.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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