15th May // 2015
According to reports by NBC, Google has secretly unleashed a new phantom algorithm that has effected some of the largest websites online.
By analysing web traffic data (as well as reports from the websites themselves), it looks as though this new algorithm is targeting 'how to ' content.
Why? Well, type 'how to fry an egg' into Google. You will see that the search engine giant has taken a snippet from another website and posted that at the top of the search results. This is a move from the US company too keep users on its own property, instead of clicking onto websites.
HubPages, Answers.com and wikiHow have all reportedly seen their traffic fall over the last few weeks – and the numbers aren't rising back up again either. HubPages in particular saw a 22% fall in organic traffic, noted on 3rd March compared to the previous week. In fact, 70% of its top traffic pages saw their numbers decline.
CEO and founder of HubPages, Paul Edmondson said: “It was just a giant whack across the board.
“Image how hard it is to run a business when you see 22 percent of your traffic evaporate overnight.”
Sister site eHow also saw a similar fall in traffic, whilst competitors Answers.com and wikiHow saw a less significant but still very noticeable drop in traffic.
What's worrying for the sites mentioned above and others like them is that this appears to be a domain-level algorithm amend by Google. What this means is that even huge websites like HubPages can see their entire online content bank lose search visibility because of just a few spammy or thin content articles.
Glenn Gabe, a search analyst expert said: “When you have a domain-level algorithm update or ranking change, it can impact the whole site.
“Pages that should be drawing (traffic) well could also be pulled down in the results.”
Google is yet to comment on the phantom algorithm thus far.