Posted 14th July 2015 | By ExtraMile

Somewhat overshadowed by the Mobilegeddon Google Update, a couple of months ago webmasters were perplexed by an additional update that was shuffling up the rankings: the Phantom Update Part 2. So called, because Google didn't give any indication that it was going to happen, nor much insight into it since. Unlike Mobilegeddon, there's no quick fix to Phantom, so how worried should website owners be?

Of course, if there's any chance of an impact on your site's ranking and traffic, it's definitely worth taking an interest in Phantom 2. The update has also been coined the "Quality Update", and it's not so dissimilar from the Panda Update which penalised sites that were providing duplicate or thin content. Take a quick think about whether your website provides users with unique and informative content, or whether you've written it for the sake of it, to fill space on your website?  

Wow them with content to keep them coming back for more

Conquering Phantom 2 requires a whole new approach to content. It's what I started talking about back at the beginning of 2014 in An SEO recipe for Success but the content requirements for successful marketers has grown rapidly since. Matt Bush from Google summed it up pretty well. If you're selling trainers, you might be surprised to know that there are far far more search enquiries about running marathons than there are about buying trainers. Website owners need to take advantage of these search trends and provide searchers with the informative content they're looking for:

"The purpose of the running shoe is to run marathons, so rather than just focusing on the product think about what content you can give people that actually helps them in their quest to run a marathon" Matt Bush, Google (Source: http://www.marketingweek.com/2015/07/10/what-googles-phantom-2-means-for-content)

It's all about building that relationship with a potential customer as early on as possible. You might even be providing content to people before they've even realised that they require your services. Once you have them hooked, you have the opportunity to engage, educate and inspire them.

Tip: Running out of content inspiration? Use Google Trends to filter popular and current search terms related to your industry

Keep user experience in mind whenever possible

Providing users with topics that matter to them essentially comes under the umbrella of good user experience. Just like flashing adverts on a site can really annoy your customers, pointless content might make them click off your site in the same way. It is, however, easier said than done to improve the level of content on your site, and it requires a well thought-out strategy.

As well as improving your content strategy, to conquer Phantom 2 you'll have to also consider the following:

- Design: If you have a weak or old design, Google will recognise this and could potentially penalise you if it thinks you're not providing searchers with a quality online experience

- Annoying adverts and popups: Enough said.

- Videos: Videos definitely provide users with engaging and positive experience when used correctly, but don't make the mistake of using automatic-starting videos - Google may be a robot, but it has a solid understanding about what annoys users.

So where to start with battling Phantom 2?

Take a minute to step into the shoes of your potential customer. What are they passionate about? What are they likely to be reading about on their lunch break? Engage people earlier on in their decision making process and it'll make things much easier in the long-run. If you're genuinely improving an online experience for people, your search engine rankings will take care of themselves.

Written by Annabel Ross, SEO Specialist at ExtraMile Communications.

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.

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