In May many webmasters and SEO experts realised a change in search rankings on Google. When Google was asked to comment about the sudden changes they said there had been no updates to their systems.

There was speculation Google had introduced a secret Panda update or there was something else being changed to the search engine. The changes were even being dubbed by some as the ‘Phantom Update.’

However Google finally admitted to making a change to their core algorithm that is responsible for assessing content quality. Although they claim it’s no official update or edits to Panda – there has been negative impacts caused by the new changes.

How-To Websites Lose Traffic

After the shift in rankings during May, Hubpages revealed their traffic had taken a hit. Hubpages declared they lost 22% of traffic overnight because of the unannounced update.

Other How-To websites also saw a loss in traffic in May – eHow, About.com, Answers.com and Wikihow saw a decline.

Although Google claims there has been no update to Panda, the new update had a critical effect on How-To content.

Panda is responsible for attacking websites that have bad content (duplications, lack of content, etc) but in this case Panda is apparently not responsible for the loss of traffic on How-To websites.

Google claimed they made changes to other core algorithms responsible for assessing content quality.

When looking at the case of Hubpages they revealed they lost traffic on some of their pages – not all of them – showing some of the pages lost rankings because of the Google update in May.

It’s currently unclear why exactly How-To websites have had a severe loss in rankings and traffic but it seems they have taken the biggest hit.

Other Issues for How-To Websites

Another problem facing How-To websites is the Knowledge Graph introduced in 2012.

If you type in “how to make a sandwich” or any other “how to” into the search you will sometimes see instructions appear beneath the search box.

how to make a sandwich on google

The instruction box instantly gives information to answer the search query. In some cases you can get your answer from this box so you won’t need to click on a website to get more information because Google has already supplied the answer. This information box stops people from going onto other website and will have a negative effect especially on How-To websites.

New updates by Google can benefit and have a detrimental effect on websites so that’s why it’s so important to have an updated SEO strategy so your website doesn’t get penalised by Google and its updates.