What was the Phantom III Update?
Was Phantom III a real update?
Beginning around November 19, 2015, there were a number of reports that suggested that Google had done a search ranking update. Although the reports are unconfirmed by Google that does not necessarily mean that nothing happened. Since the update is largely based upon the conjecture of the websites who noticed the differences in rankings and traffic, this update has been referred to as the Phantom III update.
What were the past phantom updates?
In April and May 2015, there was another update that Google confirmed about two weeks after the reports of changes had been made. This update has been termed the Phantom II update, or the Quality Update. The first Phantom occurred back in 2013. Both of these updates focused heavily on penalties for poor content and unnatural link profiles. Websites that used the same anchor text, sites that continually link back and forth to each other or otherwise built a link profile that was clearly unnatural, were all hit. Sites with duplicate or poor content, designs that are not user-friendly and sites that were riddled with technical problems also saw some damage.
What did the Google Phantom update target?
Like many other updates over the past few years, Phantom III was also interested in targeting low-quality content. The key difference between Panda and the Phantom III update, according to SEO Glenn Gabe, is that the Phantom III update seemed to focus more on the user experience. Sites that had popups or modal windows that were hard to click off as you scrolled through the content were often penalized. Sites that used the sidebars and other space around the main content to promote unorganized additional information, rather than clearly relevant opportunities, also saw penalties. Finally, websites that attempted to force visitors to click through numerous pages to view an entire article, just so that each page could load new ads, also saw penalties.
How do I avoid a Google SEO Phantom III update penalty?
- Focus on the user experience. Make sure that you plan the layout of the site to help the user to better navigate and engage with your content easily, not make things more difficult for them.
- Do not use excessive ads on the page.
- Monitor your backlink profile to make sure that you are building quality, organic backlinks
- Make it easy for people to physically read your content-- so remove challenging popups and do not make people click through multiple pages to read a new paragraph of your content.
- Do a site audit regularly to find any potential technical problems so they can be rectified right away.
The Phantom III update definitely helps to keep site owners on their toes as they are forced to focus even more on quality and the user experience. Google has made it clear that they care more about the user experience than promoting particular brands, and site owners need to follow the same path.