Google’s ‘Fred’ update – Two Weeks On
Two weeks ago we had our say on Google’s ‘Fred’ update, named after Google’s Gary Illyes’ pet fish. There was a lot of chatter in the search community, but until recently, nothing was confirmed by Google. However, in a Webmaster hangout on Friday 24th, the update was pretty much confirmed. So it’s out there, and even though Google makes updates to its algorithm almost on a daily basis, this one has definitely had a significant impact.
What sites has Fred impacted?
At first, it seemed as though the update might be a reoccurrence of changes Google rolled out in February, related to spammy links. However, as more and more sites have come forward reporting issues, it appears that Fred is targeting what Google would consider ‘low quality’ domains. In other words, they may well be trying to crack down on websites that have been set up purely to make money through ad revenue, and not necessarily to benefit the user in any particular way.
Google has always made it clear that the web users are their main responsibility when it comes to making changes to their algorithm, so it’s not a surprise that this update seems to have the user in mind.
These are points that Google make very clear in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which they fittingly updated and rereleased days after the Fred update was first being reported.
Of course, as with every major algorithm update, there will be sites that feel they have been unfairly punished. In this case, it might be necessary to assess a number of different elements in order to solve the issue.
Is there any way sites can recover?
If your website has seen a significant drop in rankings, then the first thing to do is to make sure that your site isn’t being penalised for anything that could be considered as ‘blackhat’ – such as duplicate content. In other words, stick to Webmaster Guidelines and the Search Quality Guidelines that Google provides as closely as possible. Of course, if you recognise that your site is ad heavy, then the best option may well be to remove some advertising space, even if it is just on a temporary basis.
The upshot of Fred is that there are a number of reasons why your site might have taken a hit, the main takeaway being that in Google’s view, your site holds no benefit for the regular searcher.
If you have experienced a significant drop in traffic and can’t figure out why, then get in touch and the Tamar team will definitely be able to help.