Is Phantom 3 ‘Quality Update 2’ to Google’s ranking algorithm?

Though so far unconfirmed by Google, strong evidence shows that there was an update to a core ranking algorithm on November 19th. Could this be another Phantom update? SEO’s certainly think so, and there’s been a lot of hype about it. In response to those unconfirmed reports, John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, said on Twitter, “We make 100s of changes every year. Don’t have anything more specific to announce, sorry!”
There has certainly been a big change in search results for some. If there had been another update to Panda or Penguin, more than likely, Google would have announced it, like they previously have done. They did confirm another algorithm update in June, but they didn’t give it a name or offer any explanations, nor did anyone call it Phantom. It’s possible that one of those ‘100s of changes’ has effected the results. Or, there could have been a change to the main algorithm – yet to be confirmed, as the case was in the past with Phantom 2.

So, what’s the link between the Quality Update and Phantom? Let’s rewind:

Phantom 1

In May 2013 reports flooded in about a possible update to Google’s algorithm. Many site owners said they had significant losses in traffic. Google said, “Nothing to announce now.” Glenn Gabe was one of the first to write about it. And, due to the mystery behind the notable changes, he was the one who named the unconfirmed update ‘Phantom’.

Phantom 2

In May 2015 there were rumours and evidence of another update. It had the hallmarks of Phantom 1 and, presuming it was a repeat of Phantom 1, Gabe dubbed it Phantom 2. However, a few weeks later Google confirmed that there had indeed been an update, and they called it the Quality Update: Quality Update 1.

Although it’s unclear if the 2015 updates, Phantom 2, affected the same algorithm updates of 2013, Phantom 1, but that’s how the name Phantom came about. Now, back to the present day:

Phantom 3

With all the hype around the November 19th changes, we have to ask if these changes are actually Quality Update 2? Gabe has written a new post about it, Marcus Tober (Searchmetrics) has also written a post about it, and both point to the update being about quality. Due to the lack of information (or confirmation) from Google, whatever has affected the search rankings is naturally being called Phantom 3. There have been case studies on the subject, the evidence definitely says so, and there’s lots of talk in the industry about something big going on.
Could this be a repeat of Phantom 2, and Google will announce it any day? All we can do, as all the SEO’s are doing, is attribute the quality changes to a quality update, and for that reason we’re all calling it Quality Update 2, Phantom 3.


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