8-Month Recap of Google’s Fred Update

Nothing shakes up the web world like a Google algorithm update. Sites that are out of step can experience significant ranking fluctuations. If you’ve noticed your web traffic decreasing over the last eight months, the March 8 rollout of Google’s Fred Update could be partially to blame. Ahead, we’ll look at what the update is targeting (hint: ad heavy, low value content websites) and how to make sure you’re in compliance.
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What does Google’s Fred Update target?

Fred diverges in name from the ‘cute fuzzy animal’ updates in years past. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less decisive. The new parameters are clear that sites whose content brings no true value to the user are under threat of penalty.

You’ve heard us say your copy needs to prioritize the reader’s experience, not the search engine. This update really drives that point home. The emphasis is squarely on customer value. That means no repetitive content, and anything copied and pasted from other websites is especially damaging for your ranking.

There’s also a lot of focus being placed on adsense and affiliate sites. Because they generally have little to no relevant content aside from a few keywords, they’re being systematically downgraded.

Essentially, anything operating as a container for ads and affiliate links is on the outs.

Some other aspects targeted by Google’s Fred Update include:

  • Excessive “review” content
  • Exact match “review” domains
  • Missing mid– and-top-of-funnel content
  • Content optimized around exact keywords instead of topics
  • Poor ad-to-text ratio
  • Poor affiliate link-to-text ratio
  • No rich media/poor site design
  • Content not matching users search intent

How to Avoid Fred Update Penalties

Sometimes, Google updates offer the perfect opportunity to do a quality control check of your website. To comply with Fred, start by focusing on the placement of ads on your site. Make sure any banner ads you host aren’t obtrusive, or you can expect to see a decline in traffic and possible Google penalties.

Next, make sure to turn a critical eye to the content. Text heavy sites that are obviously targeting industry related keywords are unlikely to give you the traction you’re after. In fact, if it’s oriented towards generating ad revenue and less concerned with actually answering a user’s question, a downgrade in ranking could soon follow.

When writing, focus on satisfying the human query and don’t focus too heavily on keywords, for the sake of having keywords. Human-friendly title tags that focus on topics more than exact matches could also result in curried favor with the algorithms that be.

Pepper that with active social media engagement and rich media on the site itself and you should be safe. Until the next update, anyway.

Whether you’re building a site or thinking of redoing yours in the future, make sure to keep these tips in mind. If upon review of your engagement metrics you see something concerning, give us a call. We’ll help you come to a resolution.