Launch date: March 8, 2017
Hazards: Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content
How it works: The latest of Google’s confirmed updates, Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. The majority of affected sites are blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.
As you probably know, Google is constantly improving their algorithms in order to provide a better user experience that is changing over time. How search results, such as websites, are ranked is in a constant state of flux. For this reason, it is important for a webmaster to stay on top of all things SEO. The Google Algorithm update known as Fred was announced mid-2017. Since then, it has affected Google’s search engine in a big way and set a new precedent for SEO.
In this article about this important algorithm update we will be looking at:
- What changes does the Fred update include?
- How to tell if your site SEO was affected by the Google Fred algorithm update
- How to optimize your site for the Google Fred update
Google Algorithm Fred Explained
Google Fred is an algorithm designed by Google to target black-hat tactics that are connected to overly aggressive monetization. Google Fred specifically looks for excessive ads, low-value content, and websites that generally offer very little user benefit. Salesy websites that have little purpose other than to drive revenue rather than providing helpful information seem to be penalized the hardest.
What changes does the Fred update include?
While it is always difficult to know exactly what Google is up to behind the scenes, the resulting consequences after a new update is announced typically gives us a good idea of what Google is going after. In the case of Google Fred, websites that had one or more of the attributes listed below saw a 50-90% drop in ranking. Websites affected the most:
- Focused on aggressive monetization
- Displayed misleading or deceptive ads
- Displayed ads that tricked users into clicking on them
- Saturated with affiliate links, ads, and low-value content
- Had blogs that featured any range of topics with the sole purpose of SEO ranking
- User experience barriers and issues
- Poor mobile compatibility
- Thin content
- Overuse of ads
Essentially, what the Google Fred algorithm is telling us is that Google updates are cracking down on shady web practices that prioritize monetization rather than being a helpful resource. Unless your website was designed at its core around these questionable attributes, there are simple steps most webmasters can take to prevent a search engine penalty.
How to tell if your site SEO was affected by the Google Fred algorithm Update
A significant drop in your website’s overall ranking, regardless of the reason, means something serious is going on. If you have experienced a sudden and unexplained drop in ranking, it is more than likely you have been penalized by an algorithm update.
Of course, with a Google update, the best course of action is to be proactive, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the root of the problem. It may take a professional audit to determine the way forward. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help improve your site and decrease your risk of a Fred penalty.
How to optimize your site for Google Fred algorithm update
Google Fred penalizes websites that obviously focus on aggressive monetization. On the other hand, Google algorithm updates reward websites that offer excellent user experience and provide relevant information. It only makes sense that webmasters should adjust their sites in order to avoid penalty. Here are some suggestions to improve your ranking in search results:
- Everything on your site must have a clear and specific purpose
- Use relevant metadata, tags, keywords, and schema to clearly state the purpose of your content
- Review the layout of your site, do you have a poor user experience?
- Ads are OK, but consider scaling back their quantity and consider their placement
- Use the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines to self-evaluate your website
- Set reminders to go back and review your website, checking ads, content, and layout
In general, it is a good idea to use these best practices, even if you are not experiencing a negative drop in your rankings. No matter what, you should keep in mind that your site must follow these three simple criteria for best search results:
- High quality and quantity content (say that three times fast)
- Authority and trustworthiness (i.e. your site’s reputation)
- A great user experience (what would a user want to see?)
Take Action for your Website SEO
Although keeping your website up to date may seem overwhelming at first, simple consistency can make all the difference. If you are unsure where to start or you think you need help, give us a call. Our team has been helping people improve their SEO. As Google Partners, we are always aware of each algorithm update and how to best optimize for best results. Smartz is always happy to answer questions, or if you would like to take proactive steps we can help you meet your goals. Contact our team today!