Google Fred Algorithm Update – Was Your Site Hit?
Imagine waking up to a traffic loss of up to 90%. This was a reality to many site owners, SEO specialists and webmasters in March 2017. Google had rolled an update that hit thousands of websites causing decreased traffic to millions of web pages. The Google algorithm update later came to be known as the Fred update as given by Gary Illyes, a renowned webmaster and search analytics specialist.
What Are Google Algorithm Updates Anyway?
Google algorithm updates are nothing new. It’s a way for the search engine to maintain credibility by giving users better and better search results. However, not all algorithm updates made by Google have such an instant result. It’s now more than 5 months since the Fred update was rolled out and many websites are still struggling to gain back their rankings.
The Fred Update
Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at the latest algorithm update done by Google – Fred update. We’ll go through some impacts and changes that it may have made to help you know whether your site was affected and if so, the right approach to regain the lost traffic.
It doesn’t come as a surprise the fact that Google is yet to officially confirm the Fred update even after webmasters and Google analytics specialists from all over the world claimed it. For many updates, such as the popular Hummingbird which was rolled out in September 2015, Google neither revealed the reasons for the changes nor did it claim the update. So after deep evaluations by SEO masters, many of them believe that the Fred update was mainly focused on quality. Sites that were intended to make money without focusing on user experience were hardest hit.
Which Sites Were Most Affected?
After webmasters and SEOs began analyzing the Fred update, there was adequate evidence that the algorithm changes mainly affected sites that had prioritized monetization over user experience. For instance, sites that had multiple advertising banners but very thin and debatably useful content were affected by this algorithm update. The interesting bit is that some webmasters experienced a remarkable growth in traffic after the update. After deeper analysis, it was unveiled that the Fred update wasn’t really an instant algorithmic change. It was a result of gradual algorithmic changes that were already put in place. It is worth noting that not all sites that were hit when this update was rolled out had emphasized on monetization over user experience. There are some with other issues which we shall highlight below.
Low Quality Backlinks
Other than heavy ad placement, another factor that could have contributed to lower rankings on your website after the Fred update is poor quality backlinks. Analysis done by both StatCounter and TechWyse reported that the Fred update also affected many sites with poor quality backlinks. For instance, if you have backlinks to sites that have poor domain authority, broken or unnatural links, you may have been affected by the Fred update. In fact, link quality is a key factor that affects many websites whenever algorithm updates are rolled out.
What To Do After An Algorithm Update
Algorithm updates will always be rolled out even when we least expect it. It’s normal for website owners and SEO masters to always live in fear wondering when their site will be hit next. Instead of worrying about the impact the next Google update will have on your website, below are some steps you need to take:
1. Review the overall quality of your website
Interestingly, some websites that were majorly hit by the Fred update managed to recover after making certain changes. One thing you need to do as a website owner or SEO is to focus on improving the overall quality of your web pages. For instance, go through your content, ensure it’s unique, relevant and useful to users. Fix user interface problems if any, on your website. Address technical SEO issues whenever necessary and you’ll see a major improvement in rankings.
2. Perform a site audit
A site audit is important because it helps you to understand what you could have done wrong that put you at risk of an algorithm update and how to make the necessary changes. When you conduct a thorough and comprehensive audit of every single page of your site, it uncovers many problems that could contribute to a Google penalty. You can hire an SEO expert to perform an audit on your site. Hire a trusted expert who can uncover some questionable SEO tactics used on your web pages so that they can give you accurate results.
3. Content is still king
In every Google algorithm update, top-quality content always wins. If you are still relying on quantity over quality, your website is likely to face the next penalty from Google. Google’s ranking signals always favor sites with more relevant and useful content. Though producing great quality content may be a challenge, it’s always worth it. Go through online resources to help you publish quality content on your website.
4. Review your link profile
Another important step you need to make is to clean up your link profile. A simple and free tool that you can use to do this is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Open Site Explorer will give you a summary of all your links so you can tell which ones are from reputable sources and those that need to be removed. You can check broken links and fix them. Doing this will not only make your website rankings better but also improve user experience.
5. Avoid overusing website banner ads
Overcrowding your website with ads will not only hinder user experience but also puts you at risk of a Google penalty as seen after the Fred update. If Google perceives your website to be more concerned about making money as opposed to providing useful and relevant content, you’re likely to face another algorithm hit. It’s fine to monetize your website but do it in a way that doesn’t come off as distracting or unappealing to your prospective clients.
There’s so much to learn about the Fred update but the bottom line is that you should always be prepared by making minor tweaks and changes that improve user experience and provide relevant, quality content. Get rid of shady SEO tactics that may hinder your rankings now or after the next update.