5 Steps to Improve Content Ranking During Google’s Updates


Notice a slight change in a few web pages rankings this summer? Shweiki Media Printing Company teams up with expert Alicia Lawrence, the Content Coordinator for WebpageFX, to explain how Google’s two algorithm updates affect ranking and present five steps to help produce quality content that ranks well in the search engine.

Google Algorithm Updates

Phantom Update (Quality Update)

In early May, Google released an SEO update called the Phantom Update number two. It happened quietly, and while many noticed the change in a few site rankings, it took a while for anyone to figure out what was actually going on. This was because the Quality Update (as it was later dubbed) mostly impacts sites with:

  • User-generated content
  • Thin or redundant content
  • Obtrusive ads
  • 404/ Broken Links

Sites that have these things are typically hub pages and sites like examiner.com.

Panda Refresh (4.2)

Google has been punishing poor quality since 2011 with the first Panda Update, but as long as a site focuses on helping the user, it should pass these updates with flying colors.

The latest Panda Refresh started in July and will continue to slowly roll out over the next few months. It will be difficult to see which sites benefit and which are punished through the update, but Google says many of the small to medium sites that already have quality content on them are ranking higher.

The Panda Refresh only affects 2-3% of queries, which is less than previous updates.

While the exact changes with this update are still unknown, it is assumed that Google will continue to reward quality content.

5 Steps to Improve Ranking

1. Clean Up 404 Pages/ Broken Links

Tools to Use:

  • Google Webmaster Tool
  • Broken Link Finder- plug in for WordPress
  • Screaming Frog– paid tool

2. Build Out Thin Content

Google is awarding long, quality content. The threshold in regards to word count is over about 2,000 words, so pages should be built upto at least that amount.

When pages are being revised, a page should not be filled with fluff and keywords, but instead with quality content.One should definitely include long tail keywords that are strategically chosen, but a page should not become keyword stuffed.

When building or filling a page, one should think about what readers and potential consumers want to know, aside from the product or service.

For example: An online college offering a cosmetology course could write a blog post discussing the best flexible jobs and mention cosmetology as one of them. People that might not be interested in cosmetology at the time might be searching for flexible jobs and discover the course.

One should keep track of all the pages produced. In many cases, an additional idea down the road could be added to a preexisting page instead of creating a new page. If a page becomes too long, links can always be added at the top of the page to help navigate to various sections of the page.

3. Stop Syndicating Content

Google values unique, quality content, not duplicate content. It’s important to stop using other people’s content.
If no employees have time to write a blog post weekly or monthly, one should consider a freelancer that knows the industry and can write web-friendly content. Depending on the industry and the expertise level of the writer, a 2,000-word post typically costs $80 to $200.

4. Stop Obtrusive Ads

Content sites, such as magazines and blogs, may have a problem with this. It’s important for people to do the following:

  • Stop pop-up ads or banners (this does not include pop-ups that suggest email subscriptions to newsletters).
  • Get rid of self-starting video ads, which make visitors leave the page when they grow annoyed and cannot figure out how to turn it off.

Keep users happy with user-friendly pages.

5. Capture Low-Hanging Fruit


One should find keywords for which their site almost ranks in the first three spots and build out competition for those pages. Tools like SpyFu are great. Another good strategy is to check out the competition. One can beat the first three listings on there by checking how long the competing sites’ content is and how many inbound links they have–and then determining how to outrank them. Building up the page’s content and quality inbound links is key to surpassing the competition and scoring those easy runs.

While creating and optimizing, one always has to remember to write and design for the user. More than ever, Google is pushing quality over quantity, and everyone should keep this in mind while developing content over the next few months and beyond.

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Alicia Lawrence

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Advanced Web Rankings.

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