Has Google Made a Secret Quality Update?

FreshLast week, one of the sites I write for saw a sudden massive jump in traffic to the content area.

I couldn’t explain it (embarrassing) but I was very pleased – we had our best day ever in the history of our content.

Now, I’m hearing whispers of a change to an appropriately nicknamed Google algorithm update from last year – Phantom.

That update put pressure on how-to sites to publish only expert advice. Any information that could have an impact on someone’s health, finances or general wellbeing were now subject to much higher scrutiny – and quite right.

While many website owners were much chagrined at this, the site I write for continued to do well. And with this new change, it seems we’ve weathered the storm again, beating competition to stronger rankings.

Yup, I’m bragging. People spend a lot of time and money trying to beat the system and I’ve been quietly doing what felt right for years. It pays off.

Four things to keep doing

1. Revisiting content that needs it

Google is – from its filed patents – fairly obsessed with content freshness. Don’t think this means you have to be blogging every five minutes though; it’s way cleverer than that.

Google knows what kind of content NEEDS refreshing. An essay about #BlackLivesMatter is a moment in time – you don’t need to be updating it periodically. A list of the best hair straighteners? That’s going to need changing from time to time as new products come out.

How much you change could also have an impact. Editing a few words here and there isn’t likely to get noticed but adding whole sections to an article is.

The main thing is to make sure you’re not publishing work and then forgetting about it; if you’re putting out quality stuff that matters to people, it’s going to need checking every now and then so you can be certain it’s still relevant and useful. Outdated information can hurt you in your rankings because it can hurt people in real life.

Read up on what you need to do to refresh content.

2. Creating content with authority

Don’t write about things you don’t have a right to write about.

If you are not a medical professional, don’t be going around offering advice on medications. If you are not an accountant, don’t write articles about managing your taxes. It’s very simple: you will create better content if you know what you’re talking about and both Google and your audience know it.

Make sure you know Google’s rules on content authority.

3. Obeying the rules

Not incredibly complex rules – basic rules. Things like making sure your images have alternative text tags so the screen readers that blind people use can read them. Things like keeping good content hierarchy: headings, subheadings and bullet lists that keep things easy to follow – even and especially on mobile.

Most of the rules set out by search engines are common sense and it’s never too late to make sure you’re ticking the boxes. Just because no one’s ever put meta descriptions on your website pages doesn’t mean you can’t start doing it.

4. Publishing content for a reason

It bears repeating: you don’t need to be posting every five minutes to be seen as ‘fresh’. It may take a month to build a genuinely great article; it may take half an hour. It is very important to be natural in your process when it comes to content and not force it.

Quality will always beat quantity for humans and search engines. The internet is full of drivel. We don’t need any more just because people feel obligated to post something.

With whispers about changes in website traffic, has Google released a secret algorithm update? Click To Tweet