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July 22, 2015

The Google Phantom: What Google Wants for Content Quality

“What really is the quality of the content on my page?”

If you haven’t yet asked yourself that question then you may be in for a bit of a shock.

Recently, Google introduced a shadowy new update to their algorithm that resulted in a decrease in traffic for Hubpages by as much as 22%.

Known as the Google Phantom, this is in keeping with Google’s aim to make the Internet a more “user-friendly” place. As summer 2015 rolls around it’s just a matter of trying to figure out what the Google algorithm & Phantom updates will demand and how to survive them or be affected by them only to a minor extent.

Focusing On What Google Wants

Learning from past failures, we have learned that in order to survive in the rough-and-tumble world of the Internet, we must compromise with the big dog in the playground. Google is the big dog, and they won’t let you forget it.

When site creators were running amok in the nineties, Google realized that the only way it would stay afloat would be to force site owners to be more relevant to users. And so the Penguin and Panda updates were born and rolled out, amidst a general outcry of unfairness. What this did was change the entire face of the Internet.

Good Content & Why It’s Important

What constitutes good content? Most content producers will agree that good content is content that seeks to bring value to a user’s life. Whether that value is through presenting new information, providing a new perspective on existing issues or driving the user to do something positive, good content underlies the ideal that Google has created for the Internet. Good content puts the needs of the user first. As a content producer, you’re either in the business of creating good content or are failing miserably to catch the attention of the crowd you desire.

3 Ways to Say No to Filler Content

Content that doesn’t do anything that good content does is weak content and serves to drive your audience away. The only way to get out of a dependency on weak content is to critically examine what you produce and determine the best way to go about fixing these holes in your content production. Your content is your connection with your audience and in order to establish a level of confidence, you must have content that appeals to that audience. To this end, your content ought to be:

  1. Fresh and New: Brand new content is what drives the juggernaut of traffic. Some companies seem to have forgotten this and believe they can get along with duplicated content on most of their pages with a single paragraph or even just one line changed. Google’s algorithm is wise to these kinds of tactics and it doesn’t take very well to being fooled. To avoid ending up in this situation you should check a professional content production agency to develop new content for you on a schedule.
  2. Minimally Assaulted by Ads: Once upon a time it was desirable to have as many ads as you could per square inch of your website. The rationale, of course, was that each ad represented revenue based on a user visiting your site. Currently, the mindset is a lot different thanks to Google. Having an abundance of ads drives users from your site and serves as a red flag to Google bots. The more ads you have the less likely you are to see good traffic from search engines.
  3. Relevant Posts and Articles: Do you remember what we said about good content up above? This is where it comes into its own. Developing engaging articles and posts make up the most important parts of your content production process. The content you create should have value above all. It should give back to the user when they invest time and effort into reading it. Your posts and articles should appeal to your core audience and should be relevant to your audience above all else. Irrelevant posts are likely to drive away whatever traffic the search engines send to you.

How Do I Make my Content Better? 4 Key Ways

There are a number of handy ways you can raise the level of your content, including:

  1. Repackaging: Instead of developing content in a single, set way, try experimenting with different formats for your content. Experiment a little and see what works.
  2. Create Better Topics: Topics are the point where you hook your audience and have them asking for more. By developing topics that are interesting and stark, you draw more people in.
  3. Have a Standardized Layout: Nothing is more annoying than going to a site and realizing that the layout is inconsistent. Raise the confidence of your audience by having a professional looking site.
  4. Proofread: Grammatical errors stand out even more in an online platform. Don’t be afraid to proofread your posts to ensure that you don’t make a fool of yourself to your audience.

Are You Ready for Google’s Next Update?

Although the only people who know what the next algorithm update is going to look like are Google’s engineers, we can be relatively certain it’ll be along the same lines as their past major updates. This means that we are likely to see the search giant lean more towards making a user-friendly Internet for users, and at the same time being stricter towards what it will accept from content creators.

As content creators, this can be seen as a good thing because it enables us to up our game in order to stand out.

The Internet is moving towards becoming a meritocracy in Google’s eyes, where hard work is rewarded by higher volumes of traffic.

To stay ahead of the game, all you have to do is to keep creating good content that appeals to your audience and making sure you put your audience first. At its heart, that’s all that Google is asking from us. Is it too much to ask?


Julia Spence-McCoy is the CEO of Express Writers, an online copywriting agency that began in 2011 with thousands of web content pages written to date and more than 50 talented writers on the team. Her passion is copywriting and all that pertains, including the ever-changing game of Google algorithm updates.