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Marketing Intelligence

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

June 11, 2015 | Updated August 4, 2022

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 alive 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, which lost 10.9% of its 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!

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