22 May Google Phantom: The Update You Didn’t Know About
With Google’s mobile-friendliness update having been announced two months before it actually went live, you may have wondered if heavy hype, major press, and repeated reminders would be the new mode of communication for Google updates. Enter the “Phantom Update.” It turns out that in the first week of May 2015, Google rolled out a shift to its algorithm with no fanfare or flourishes. It’s been two weeks since the change took place, but it wasn’t until May 19th that Google confirmed any update occurred, and it’s only just now coming to light.
More descriptive than the spectral nickname indicates, the “Quality Update” is another designation being used for the early May change. As you might expect, the update focuses on quality content and favors valuable, helpful information in a similar way to the Panda updates. We know any push for quality content is valid, but the truth is, this particular update has had little to no impact on small and local businesses. In our daily review of 60,000 keywords, we saw no fluctuation in rankings that would even indicate an update took place.
So, why is this update even worth mentioning? First, the update is further confirmation of what we learned with the mobile-friendliness update: not every Google update is going to be earth shattering. Some algorithmic shifts will be truly impactful, some will be underwhelming, and some will slip under the radar completely. It’s a reminder to not approach every update with a “sky is falling” mentality. Second, while the update didn’t make an impact on small and local businesses, it did influence the rankings of some larger businesses. For some high content-generating sites such as Hubpages, the “Phantom Update” truly did provide uplift in rankings.