The Google Fred Update: What You Need to Know

The Google Fred Update: What You Need to Know

Google always refuses to announce when its latest search engine algorithms will be updated. They instead insist that the algorithm is in a constant process of change and evolution. SEO experts, webmasters and those using SEO to improve their website’s SERPs rely on understanding the changes to the Google algorithm to succeed in their business. So, the lack of release dates from Google is a way for the company keeping a level playing field for everyone. Most recently, however, there has been a lot of talk about a new update from Google. This update to the algorithm has been referred to as The Google Fred Update by Gary Illyes, a Google analyst who jokingly tweeted that all future updates would be called Fred.

Google makes minor updates every day, but it seems that The Google Fred update seems to have rolled out on March 5th, 2017. Fred has had a major impact on the rankings of websites all over the world. While previous recent updates seemed to emphasize backlinks and the quality of links, Fred appears to return the focus to the quality and value of the content on a website. This update seems to punish sites that Google have determined are not designed to deliver content but are solely used for promotion or the creation of advertising revenue.

What Impact Did FRED have on Websites?

 

Google has always favored high-quality content that’s designed to help users answer questions that are important to them. The Google Fred Update seems to be rewarding this kind of site. However, sites that only appear to be created to generate advertising revenue seem to have been targeted with a dramatic drop in their search engine ranking position. Anecdotal feedback on social media and forums suggests that this type of site suffered an overnight crash in the amount of organic traffic they were receiving, almost instantly.

 

What Reasons Might Google Have For Making This Update?

 

While Google is keen to create revenue through its own AdWords program, some sites have clearly prioritized the creation of revenue, over the creation of high-quality content. Google may have recognized this fact and tried to redress the balance, ensuring that both webmaster and user have great content at the heart of the experience of visiting any website.

How To Tell If A Site Has Been Affected By Fred

 

A rapid drop in search ranking is a good indication that a website has been hit by the new Google Fred update. Another way of analyzing the impact on a site is to check Google Analytics. If the Fred update has had a deleterious effect on organic traffic going to the site, it will be clearly indicated in the lack of clicks, impressions and visits that Analytics records.

One essential step that can be taken in any traffic recovery strategy is to analyze keywords through your rank checker in the Brown Box Branding Dashboard, or other SEO tools. A simple method to determine the effect of the update is to compare how the keywords ranked before and after the update. If Google considers the content of a page to be of poor quality, then the keywords for each individual URL will have undergone a sharp decline. Checking the difference in keyword rankings for February, March and April will determine the level of damage done by the update. If the results of this affect most of the pages, then the site has suffered from Fred’s influence.

 

What To Do If A Site Has Been Affected By Fred

 

Of course, the same “Content is King” advice should be respected as it always has been. High quality content does not seem to be affected by this update, so addressing content quality issues is a no-brainer here. Creating high value content that users would want to share is the first way to redress and recover from the loss of traffic caused by the update.

Content should be written by an expert. It should be unique, well-written, accurate, edited, and spell-checked. The content should be original in every sense. It should be researched, and contain original thought and analysis on this topic. Creating value through original content will be rewarded by Google. High quality content is generally not just a few hundred words in length. By examining the quality and quantity of content, one can also begin to recover from the traffic problem caused by this update.

Next, check that the backlinks on the site are high quality links to good quality content. Weed out bad or dead links. If Google finds low quality backlinks – like those acquired through cheap link building schemes – then their desire to drive up quality will see these type of links being punished. An excellent way to determine how valuable the backlinks are is to use an online backlink checking tool.

The next step is to analyze the number of ads or affiliate links on each page. This may also be causing the severe downturn in traffic. If the content of the site is mainly aimed at creating ad revenue, rather than answering a user’s search query, then changing the purpose of the copy on each page may decrease the impact of Fred and restore traffic to the site.

 

How to Avoid Problems Like This In The Future

 

Since the Google Fred update is new, it can take a while for the SEO community to understand completely how the update has affected all clients’ websites. As always, Google refuses to comment on whether they’ve made an update, repeating their well-worn phrase about “daily updates”. However, there has been a major hint from Google. Barry Schwartz recently tweeted indicating that the sites that are worst effected have broken Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This suggests that those sites affected have been using Black Hat tools and techniques to unfairly boost their rankings. The first thing that sites affected can do is to look at whether they have broken any of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

In the future, webmasters should ensure that quality is favored over promotion or advertising. The cessation of black hat SEO techniques is also likely to help avoid future problems with Google updates. Posting regularly, putting more effort into making content valuable rather than profitable through advertising, is another essential way to remedy any negative effects of the update.

From the beginning, Brown Box Branding’s methodologies for SEO were created with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as the foundation. For that reason, our client’s never have to fear being penalized for attempting to game the system. A solid SEO strategy can be extremely lucrative, but it’s a long-term play, and something that should be handled by experts.

If you’d like us to take a look at your website, and make recommendations for expanding your reach online, feel free to get in touch. We’re always here to help!

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Jeff Bickley
jeff@brownboxbranding.com

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

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