Ouch! Google’s “Phantom” Update Burns a Hole in How-To Sites

A few weeks ago Google officially released their newest update, to the chagrin of website operators everywhere.

The release came on the heels of rumors that have been circulating concerning a supposed new version of everyone’s favorite discerning Panda. People were so afraid of this new update that they began referring to it as the “Phantom” update.  Google has confirmed that the update is in fact live and it’s simply called the “Quality Update”, which turns out to be as vaguely threatening as it sounds. The new update is focused on rooting out weak “How to” websites.

We took a look at our traffic stats to see which “How To” sites were hit the hardest by “Quality” (no pun intended) and which have so far managed to come out on top.

At SimilarWeb all “How To” sites are listed under the category “Ask an Expert.” Here’s a look at those sites that suffered the most damage.loserstraffictohowtosites


The “How To” site that suffered the greatest penalty was Answers.Yahoo.com, which lost 10.9% of their organic search traffic. That translates into a loss of close to 45M organic search visits. Ouch.


But it wasn’t all bad news. Some ‘How To’ sites actually benefited from the update – we guess you could say they passed the “quality control” check. Among the biggest winners was information source Quora. This is likely due to Quora’s high content quality standards – the site has very strict guidelines for user-supplied answers to questions. Responding to a question with blatant self-promotion or even answering too generally and your answer could be flagged as spam.biggestwinnerquora


Russian “How To” websites also didn’t lose search traffic, because luckily (for them) the majority of their  search traffic comes from Yandex, not Google.winnerstraffictorussiansites


Thanks to a steady supply of organic traffic from Yandex, not only was there no decrease in organic search – there was actually an increase. Nazdravi!

We’ll keep you updated on Google’s infamous rolling updates. In the meantime, if you do have a website that’s been hit by Panda or Penguin in the past, we have some tips to help you recover. And a key takeaway from all of these posts can be summed up in the name of Google’s latest update: for websites, it’s all about Quality – don’t settle for anything less!

About the Author -

A pioneer in the field of SEO from a young age, Roy Hinkis currently serves as the Head of SEO & Digital Marketing Evangelist for SimilarWeb. He has over 10 years of experience in online marketing, with specific expertise in affiliate marketing, social media, and of course, SEO.

Discover the secrets of online success