Many webmasters noticed significant ranking changes on Google SERPs early this month. Google finally confirms the reason for these ranking changes.
This is not all in your head. Search results on Google have shifted around from the start of June, and now Google has officially ratified the suspicion that many webmasters have – Google has changed its assessment scheme regarding content quality, or as it has come to be known, the Quality Update.
Around the start of the month, a few webmasters noticed slight changes in ranking for Google SERP results. Efforts to find out whether the changes were as a result of a Panda or some other update from Google bore no fruit.
However, the changes continued to trickle in, leading to the rise of what was called the “Phantom Update” in online marketing circles. Even if Google wasn’t admitting to it, it was clear that something was different. Now they have.
After further questioning this week, Google first admitted to Search Engine Land that the company has made changes to its core-ranking algorithm. The update, the company said, was not spam-related, but rather resulted in changes to how the algorithm processes various content quality signals.
Google previously denied having rolled out any update, possibly because it didn’t consider this change to its core ranking algorithm a real update. However, for all intents and purposes for webmasters and online marketers, this qualifies as a kind of update, because the result thereof was a noticeable change in the SERP indexing, hence its being christened the “Quality Update”.
No specifics regarding new assessment criteria
At this time, Google has not provided any specific details about the current method of assessing content quality. However, past statements from the company now in the common knowledge domain show that a vast array of individual factors go into the process of determination of a site’s or page’s content quality.
Therefore, this may mean that some of those factors now have more weight while others have less weight. As to which falls where, your guess is as good as ours; perhaps in time more shall be revealed.
Noticeable effects of the update
Just as is common with major updates in the past, the webmasters/sites that have been negatively impacted as a result of the new criteria were the first to speak out. A most notable example Hub Pages, who wrote a post earlier this month postulating that Google’s new update may be targeting informational and/or “How To” websites.
This cannot find corroboration since the same post includes examples of some sites in the above category whose rankings/organic visibility have improved following the update. Reports have also come in about sites from a wide variety of industries like news sites and credit/loan sites, where some sites have gained visibility while others have gone further down from the former ranking positions.
This is in line with the report from Google, who stated that the aim of the update was not to target any specific category of websites or any websites in particular. Rather, it was an improvement of the ranking algorithm in itself.
If you have been hit following the update and would like to know how to improve the quality of content on your page, resources released by Google following the initial roll-out of the Panda update may prove to be a useful resource. There are also other resources on quality accessible from Google’s website.
Therefore, if you noticed any changes to your rank recently, it wasn’t just you. Unfortunately, without further details regarding the nature of the change, it is hard to offer specific advice. Just focus on creating high quality, unique and relevant content targeted to provide your visitors with the best user experience.