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Google Fred Update

12th April 2017

What is Fred?

Meet Fred… A group of changes to the Google search algorithm that caused quite a stir in the SEO community in March this year. It was named after an exchange on Twitter where Google search chief, Gary Illyes, joked that all future algorithm changes should be named Fred, but the exchange was fuelled by a number of SEO experts noticing dramatic fluctuations in search results.

Initially it was thought the algorithm changes were set to combat link spam with a number of ‘black hat’ sources reporting up to 90% downturn in traffic, but it turns out that the combined changes to the algorithm targeted private blog networks and low quality content.

Who was affected?

Reports from a number of webmasters conclude that the most affected sites were content-light, yet were heavy on ad space and had numerous links to affiliate sites. Basically, sites with the sole purpose of drawing in traffic to gain clicks that generate revenue, characterised by high density keyword-stuffed pages and a high proportion of ad links.

Low quality content was a big driver in Google’s well reported Panda update and it appears this is a continuation of that process, looking to make search better for the end user. Low quality content is seen in many ways including the following;

• Pages with little content
• Keyword stuffed pages
• Hidden text and links
• Participating in link schemes
• Scraped content
• Repetitive/duplicate content

What can I do?

If you think your site might have been affected by the Fred update there are actions you can take for recovery. It won’t be a quick process though.

Check your Google Analytics account – Your analytics account will be your first port of call to identify if you have been affected. Check for a drop in traffic or decrease in organic referrals around March 2017. As stated earlier in the article the drop could be up to 90% so any changes should be obvious.

Identify low quality content

If you think you have been affected you need to check through your site for poor quality content. You can refer to the points above to identify the pages that are causing the issue.

Improve the content quality

Once you have identified the problem pages, you can act to improve them. High quality content is seen by Google as good length of copy without repetition. Your copy needs to be your own as Google will punish duplicate content or content scraped from other sources. Media such as images and video are also good to include, but not to patch holes in poor copywriting.

Remove bad backlinks

This can be time consuming. There are tools that you can use to identify poor quality backlinks and toxic backlinks but the old fashioned way is often the best. Export your backlink profile and visit each one to identify the poor sources where your link is on a page full of other links and little content. These links are often paid for and sites offering these links are the ones aimed at by Google for punishment. Remove them.

This of course is just an overview and there could be many other issues all contributing to your sites drop in performance. If you would like to get a detailed report on the quality of your current site for optimised performance in search engines, contact us today.

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