Phantom was the name given to the set of algorithmic changes that first rolled out on in 2013. It was initially known as the Quality Update since it affected quality signals but wasn’t immediately acknowledged by Google. Even then, the term was coined by the webmaster community. Its subsequent versions, Phantom 2 and 3 were launched in 2015.
Phantom can be easily confused with Panda because they both work together in fighting thin content to display high-quality results in the SERPs. However, the update actually improved on how the search engine interprets quality signals. Plus, Google confirmed that the changes only affected individual pages; not imposing site-wide penalties.
These are the factors that were believed to have led to Phantom-related penalties:
Phantom 2 and 3, which rolled out in May and November 2015, respectively, continued to improve the search engine’s ability to interpret quality signals. Both changes had a significant impact on the rankings and shook the SERPs.
How-to websites that provide general information such as HubPages, eHow, wikiHow, and Answers.com saw drops in organic traffic. This led to assumptions that Phantom cracked down on these types of sites. At its core, though, the Phantom update was an improvement to the overall ranking algorithm rather than targeting specific websites or categories.
Today, thin content and deceptive practices are still a huge no-no for SEO. Google continues to put user experience above all, and that means you should provide valuable information for your readers on every page.
Here are some metrics you can monitor to ensure that your pages are effectively engaging with your site visitors: