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What does Google's 'Phantom 2' mean for retail content?

Google's secretive 'Phantom 2' algorithmic update has seen sites with high-quality content favoured, illustrating the importance for retailers creating optimised, quality & accurate product information.

After the 'Mobilegeddon' when Google changed its optimisation in favour of mobile optimised sites and content, Google's latest update is focused on ranking weighted towards content driven site. 

'Phantom 2' favours content where:

  • Content has a greater word count (not just keyword density).
  • Features Multiple images.
  • Includes Video content.
  • Has comprehensive and relevant wording.

An example of the latter would be if you were to search for 'iPhone 6', terms such as 'Apple' & 'mobile' are important in the weighting not just presence of the term searched for.

Google’s director for agency performance Matt Bush agrees that brands should be moving content further up the funnel as people are asking much bigger questions of search such as “how, why, when and where instead of just what”.

He describes Google as “a real human view of what people are thinking and doing anywhere in the world at any given time”, meaning marketers should be much smarter about how they use the channel.

Bush says: “From a brand perspective, people tend to use search right at the end of the funnel when they want someone to make a purchase. It’s last-click attribution onto an e-commerce site, which is fine and works phenomenally well, but if that’s all you are doing, you’re ignoring all that emotion and questioning.”

Instead, he advises brands to start moving the idea of search much higher up the decision-making process, so that whenever someone asks a question that is relevant to their business they can surface related content.

He says there has been a shift from product and brand searches to purpose searches, so brands should be taking advantage. While there are lots of searches for ‘running shoes’ at the moment, for example, the number of people searching for ‘marathon running’ and looking for tips and advice is far higher.

“Brands understand this and they know there is loads of information out there that they could be giving runners at that point but they do not really bother,” he claims.

“Instead, they rely on someone to buy their running shoe without really giving them the help and advice they need to understand how to make the right decision.”

Although it may not lead to an immediate purchase, he believes the next time that person is looking to buy running shoes they will think more highly of the brand that offered them advice and would be likely to return to them for help if they need it again in the future.

“The purpose of the running shoe is to run marathons, so rather than just focusing on the product think about what content you can give people that actually helps them in their quest to run a marathon”
Matt Bush, Google

Google's change in focus highlights the need for product content to be richer, this will in turn aid in the buying process by driving more informed consumers. If the rich product data is available, this content should also be included in the retailers product data feeds across all initiatives be that in marketplaces, Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE's), Email, PPC, Shopping Search (PLAs), Affiliate content or any other online marketing initiative.

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