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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?

About the author


Julia McCoy

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.


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  • Great article 🙂 I been telling people for years it’s all about the quality of content and giving Google what they want for their users. I have not been slapped by any update because I have followed what Google has asked for all along. I have sites 4 years old that have not been edited or changed and they hold top rankings, outranking million dollar companies. The reason is because the content delivers what Google users want.

    • You got that right. If you write original content that provides value to people, you won’t be affected by the updates. Who wants to link to a page full of filler text saying, “we will take care of you.” No s***! What’s a business supposed to do? Not take care of you? Provide content that people can use, and you’re safe from the phantom update.

  • Jeeze, are webmasters STILL chasing their tails around how to get away with what google wants???
    It seems like a life time ago we were doing that…Why not just put up content THAT YOU WOULD WANT TO FIND, if searching under THAT subject!!??

    The only reason google keeps changing the rules is because no one wants to actually WRITE something of substance. Sure, not everyone is a writer (some aren’t even spellers) but if you love something enough to start a blog or a business surely that will come through as you LEARN to build it.

    Too many guys want to make a quick buck from flogging crap that they themselves would not use… Stop helping them get away with it.

  • Nice tips, because content is king in internet marketing. Without good content we can’t think about ranking. But we need to write informative content for users. We need to put content on websites for users not for search engines. If it is good for users/visitors then search engines will automatically love it.

  • Your blog is so helpful for SEO beginners. I have getting fabulous Experience with your suggestions.

  • Practical question:
    Why do I have the feeling that all SEO advice are for blogs only – where you can have tons of content.
    What about practical advice for small e-commerce sites / small businesses??
    I am in serviced apartments business. How much can you write about an apartment???
    Really interested for “real life” examples and thoughts for small businesses.


  • You are right Julia when you write about “Relevant Posts And Articles”, because the name and theme of your site/blog must match the type of content you post. Besides, that’s only good business to deliver what you are enticing your visitors to come look at. Thanks, James Dazouloute

  • Is it too much to ask that all you “so-called” SEO experts not simply rehash what the gods at Google prescribe as their laws, but instead review them critically?
    Is it too much to ask to at least think about whether it makes sense at all to lump together all sorts of web pages?
    Is it too much to ask to critically discuss whether a search should have the right at all to declare what’s good for the customer instead of the customer himself?

  • Correctimundo! When I write an article, I ask myself if this article would keep my attention or bore me to tears. I reread and either edit or publish. Thanks for your great article Julia! (too much kissin’ up?)

  • If I am not wrong google is playing smartly with poor SEO and other online activity. Phontom will change the face of SERPs as well. As Google cleans their search results, they can provide us better results. I completely agree with Julia’s points. Finally” Content is king” and we all should follow the king’s direction.

  • Great article. I constantly have to rethink how I can improve my content. For example, I recorded a hobby related video and ended up scrapping it and reshooting it because it actually bored even me. Thanks for sharing.

  • It seems like content is the part that most website owners neglect the most. You can’t fill a page up with filler feel good text and expect it to be at the top. Who wants to read that?

    This post was long overdue.

  • Here at Hermetic Systems (we publish software) we’ve never paid much attention to SEO but have always (since 1997) concentrated on informative content. Not only do we have a lot of interesting articles (e.g., about calendars) which are not directly related to our software but also we publish online the full user manuals for our programs, instead of (like most software publishers) asking customers to buy the software before they get to read the user manual. We very much endorse what Julia’s article says — apart from ensuring that you have a decent website design, don’t worry much about SEO; concentrate on good content.

  • Helpful and encouraging info. I have no trouble writing but can not organize or present my site neatly and user friendly. That’s my next ‘task, project’ Unfortunately, even after that I doubt google will even notice my site. I’ve had sites rank before but getting “off the ground” now seems more difficult. It seems like links are still too important and manipulated. Thanks for great info!

  • Great Article. I am trying to follow some of these rules and it is having good effect on my blog. I never knew google cared so much before now.

    I will also implement all the additions you have made here.

  • 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.

  • Fantastic Post!!

    Yes I agree with on all above topics that Google is focus only good and quality content to deliver best result to users. Now Content help in App ranking as well Google announced to index app and show in search results.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tips with readers.

  • Great article. In other words, this update is all about rewarding sites that focused on improving the user experience and pushing quality content.