A Visit From The Phantom? Yes it's true.....we've all had a visit! And we didn't even know it!
What I'm referring to is a Google algorithm change called Phantom 2 that's been going on invisibly (hence the name) for the past two months. And because it was done without any warning, unlike Mobilegeddon, there have been complaints from businesses that have suffered because of it.
The reality is that they only have themselves to blame, because the evaluation criteria in Phantom 2 was nothing new. It was just a reinforcement of what had been previously advised about acceptable website standards. Except in this case, Google tightened up on it much more than before.
The alarms went off in the aftermath of Mobilegeddon when sites that were actually mobile compatible started inexplicably dropping from searches. Google initially denied that something was going on, but later admitted it was a "Quality Update" rather than a major algorithm change like Panda or Penguin.
Who was affected? Sites with poor quality content (yes I know we've been here before), sites who had plagarised other sites' content, sites with excessive banner advertising, sites with popups, and sites that had videos or music on autoplay. Basically anything that was cheap, tacky, and annoying!
For those who complain about Google's continual changes, there's one thing you have to take onboard! Their goal is to deliver the best quality search results to it's users. So in this context as a site owner, what you want just doesn't enter into it. It's all about the user experience. Google are more than willing to reward site owners with favourable positioning (think of positioning as a recommendation by them) but you need to prove yourself by delivering value to users and establishing a trustworthy status.
Google's First Commandment is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. In fact, I would suggest that you read their "Ten things we know to be true" mission statement if you haven't done so. Because you'll find that their initiatives of recent years are just the more sophisticated implementation of those original goals!
The thing is, you can't have it all ways. No doubt virtually all of you go straight to Google for internet searches, and you receive a list of site options that best meet your criteria. How many times have they delivered a page full of worthless results to you? Probably never! So you're happy with the results they give you!
Yet when you look for your own site with keyword searches you're annoyed because your site doesn't show up. Now you're not happy with the results they give you!
Now why do you think that your site doesn't show up where you think it should? Maybe it's because Google doesn't think think your site is delivering the value that others do? Just because you like your content and user experience, and you think it delivers value, doesn't mean that Google (or anybody else) actually agrees.
Just remember the mantra..."Focus on the user and all else will follow".....and make user experience your top priority. Google will like you all the more for it you know!