Any major Google update will draw wide reactions within the SEO community, and a recent update called “Fred” is no exception. Confirmed by Google’s Gary Illyes, the Fred update is believed to mostly target sites with low-quality content and backlinks, and sites that prioritize revenue above helping their own users.
Many of the details of the update are still up for debate, with Google only confirming limited details publicly. However, basic research and observation by those in the internet marketing sphere have uncovered a few potential realities about the update. Here’s what we know for now, and what you should do currently.
In the early weeks after the update hit (it appeared to take effect on March 7 or 8), it appeared a few specific kinds of sites were being negatively affected:
There’s evidence that low-quality content sites were being targeted specifically, and that those with both low-quality content and a high level of ad placement were in particular danger. Many of these sites saw drops of 50 percent or larger in overnight Google organic traffic. Further investigation since the roll-out seems to confirm that sites that were aggressively monetizing content at the expense of users took a major hit.
If your site is among those affected, do not panic. These kinds of changes are normal for Google and other search engines, and they’re affecting plenty of people beyond you. Don’t rush to delete pages or tweak URL structures compulsively – take reasonable steps, with the appropriate urgency.
The one thing you can do is adhere to one bit of public information Google has released on this subject: That targeted sites have not been adhering to webmaster guidelines. Your best approach is to tailor your site to these guidelines, with a foundation of solid, meaningful content. This will allow Google to find, rank and index your site in the proper ways. Don’t get too bent out of shape over this single update – it’s large, but it remains just one of a number of major SEO factors. In our next section, a few examples of results since the update can give you clues on how to operate, depending on how your site was affected.
In the months since the Fred update was rolled out, there has been a major impact to many sites. Here are a few different examples of how various sites have been affected:
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