Sometime around the middle of the month last month, Google rolled out their “Fred” update. In typical Google fashion, the update came out with no warning or notice, however it was significant enough for digital marketers and website owners to notice the substantial change in traffic and organic rankings. The Fred update has been reported to cause fluctuations in rankings and loss of site traffic by 50% to 90% for sites affected. In addition, a recent poll conducted by Search Engine Roundtable found that 44.2% of website were impacted in some way by the Fred update.
While Google has confirmed the roll out of the Fred update, as per usual, they’ve been tight-lipped with any information about it. Based on our research here at Boomtown, we have determined this update primarily targeted websites with low-quality content and unnatural, spammy backlinks.
What are low quality content and backlinks? How can you determine if your website was affected by Fred? Most importantly, what can you do to recover from the Fred update? Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s most recent update.
What Does the Fred Update Penalize?
Websites affected by this update had two main aspects in common. The first factor was content. If your website was lacking in valuable, updated content, you may have been affected. According to Google’s standards, websites that are considered to have low-quality content typically include:
- Content written for improving search engine ranking, rather than informing and helping the users
- Sites with little to no unique, original content
- Sites abusing rich snippet markups
- Content that is stuffed with irrelevant keywords
- Sites with hidden content
- Site that participate in irrelevant or low quality affiliate programs
The second factor targeted by Fred were low-quality backlinks. Your site may have been penalized, if you’ve ever paid for generic backlinks. Low quality content and bad backlink seem to go hand in hand. So, if your website has a lot of old content, you must likely have low quality, spammy backlinks. Bad backlink typically come from unrelated, untrusted sources that don’t abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. For more information about determining what a good/back backlink is, check out my recent blog post.
How to Determine if Your Website was Affected by Google’s Fred Update
- The easiest way to determine if your website was affected by the Fred update is by looking at your website’s analytics. Was there a drop in your traffic or ranking keywords between March 5th and the 20th? If no, your site is mostly like unaffected. If there is a drop, read on.
- Try and categorize your site’s content into content that is updated and of high-quality vs. old, scare or outdated content.
- Determine the keywords you lost ranking on based on ranking pre-update and traffic post-update. Then, match these keywords with any low-quality content
- Immediately start working on rewriting and improving your low-quality content
- Assess your backlinks to find and disavow any ones that seem potential harmful
How to Recover Lost Traffic and Ranking from Google’s Fred Update
Google’s Fred Update is the newest update, compared to Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. So, it has taken some time to understand the full impact it has on sites. In order to recover from Google’s updates, or better yet, not be affected by them at all, it’s critical to adopt good habits that promote userability, unique content, and stay up to date on the latest SEO standards rather than solely focusing on recovering from the update at hand. Focusing on quality over quantity and providing answers and solutions for users will help you rectify any penalties from a Google update.
If you believe your website was penalized as a result of Google’s Fred update and need help recovering lost traffic and ranking, we can help! Contact us today for more information.