Google pulled a big surprise on the SEO world this time. The “Fred” update, as it’s accidentally been called, has annihilated as much as 50-90% of the traffic from some websites.
Details weren’t clear at first. However, this is what it’s currently believed “Fred” has done:
1. Pushed websites with poor link profiles down the search rankings
2. Removed websites really designed to make money off affiliate ads and revenues (versus genuinely helping searchers) from the top of the search rankings
Google’s Gary Illyes provided some confirmation of the second view when he tweeted this on March 14th:
“DYK there’s no inherent problem with affiliate links? The problem is when a site’s sole purpose is to be a shallow container for aff links.”
TechTerminus.com, for example, publicly shared the fact that it got penalized. On their content pages, they have a big banner ad front and center right when you first visit them. After scrolling down about a screen or two on a desktop/laptop PC, you get hit with another banner ad on the right side.
• When you read the content, it’s fairly basic stuff you can find anywhere on the web
• It’s clearly written by someone whose first language is not English because it contains a number of obvious mistakes
• The majority of the topics are likely based on keywords
So, Google looks at all those factors and says,”Yikes. Not sure that searchers would really like this site. Plus, I know of other sites that answer the search query much better. So, let’s push this one down the search rankings a ways.”
Even though Fred may or may not have included a penalty for low-quality links, it’s not shocking if it did. Google consistently works to clean up the web and get websites that searchers want at the top of the search results. That means links should be acquired “naturally,” which means the link was placed by someone who found your site interesting and decided to link to it.
What Do You Do If You Got Nailed By Google Fred?
If this update hits you, you’re really in a world of trouble. It won’t be quick to recover from.
The best solution involves shifting your mindset. Change it from “I gotta make money” to “I must create the most useful website of its kind on the entire web.”
Whether you actually succeed in that or not doesn’t matter. But if you push toward that goal, your search rankings won’t be in jeopardy.
• If you rely on ads or affiliate links, evaluate how you can reduce or eliminate your reliance on them
• Create only the most useful content of its kind
• Promote that content heavily to your audience to earn natural links and shares
• Mention your desired keyword phrases once or twice on each page, and that’s it
• Create content rich with embedded videos and images, in addition to text
You’re best off doing these now, even if you didn’t get penalized. Google’s only going to continue to tighten its stringent standards.