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New Google Update Hits The Serps: The Quality Update

New Google Update Hits The Serps: The Quality Update

by Ben Wittams-Smith20th May 2015

Google have confirmed that a new update has been rolled out which changes the way Google gauges the quality of content

If you’ve noticed a shake-up on Google’s results page over the last two weeks, it is more than likely due to the rolling out of Google’s new “Quality Update”.

Webmasters were until now unaware of why their rankings were changing, some even referring to a Phantom Update” that was unexplainably causing either a massive boost or decline in their website’s rankings. Google had not at this point confirmed that there had been an update.

Google finally disclosed that an update had rolled out to Search Engine Land.

However the true nature of the update has not been revealed, and exactly how the update has changed the way in which the quality of content is determined by Google. BUT Hubpages have a theory…

Hubpages have seen massive drops in their rankings within the last 2 weeks, and through trying to make sense of their data, have found the following:

  • The Quality Update does not work on a page-level basis – meaning that if it affects your site, it affects your whole site, every single page.
  • Pages were not affected based on their word count.
  • “How-to” article sites like, eHow,, and Wikihow saw a decline in rankings, while sites like Wikia, Epicurious, and Quora appeared to have seen their rankings boosted. This could mean that How-to articles are being negatively affected by the update.

How should webmasters adjust to this update?

Since the update appears to impact websites at the site-level, there is nothing that can be gained by making changes to individual pages. Websites that provide user created content, that is potentially of a low/average quality, and websites that have in the past been hit by the Panda update, are the sites which have been hit the hardest.

The best way to avoid being struck by this newest update, as simple as it sounds, appears to be to produce high quality content.

Here are a few questions from Google’s quality guidelines:

  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

Sites that contain large amounts of user generated content will likely find it difficult to control the quality of content that appears on their website, and thus will have a difficult time avoiding their rankings being negatively affected.

Has your site been hit by the new update? Let us know in the comments below:

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About The Author
Ben Wittams-Smith
Ben Wittams-Smith is a content writer for Just SEO and the Company Director of JSEO LTD. As a specialist in SEO, SEM and digital marketing, Ben regularly contributes content and provides analytic insight in these areas.
  • 24th May 2015 at 8:11 am

    Irrespective of how google changes its algorithm, content is always king in any aspect. Any ideas like keyword research can only give ideas on how others work on it.

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