The Fred update was rolled out in March of this year. It was random, and it left some sites with a 90% drop in traffic! Google is never overly upfront about their updates and the websites they target, and Fred is no exception. While Google hasn’t officially confirmed the Fred update, research from multiple sources discovered that three types of websites were targeted:
- Sites using excessive ads or affiliate links
- Sites with generic content or low-quality content
- Sites with low-quality backlinks
Are you surprised by this update? Read on to discover more about Fred and how to bounce back if you’ve been affected
Why Google Cares About Content
Google’s mission is to provide users with the best quality search results. If it’s discovered that a website is using thin, low-quality or spammy content to drive traffic, Google will penalize them. The updates that have been rolled out over the years punish sites with thin and poor quality content, while rewarding those that offer fresh, original content. Sounds fair, right?
It’s important to know that writing about generic topics – even if it’s decent quality work – isn’t going to get you far in Google’s eyes. You need to think deeply about your niche and the types of things that your audience would want to read about.
If you run a landscaping company, writing a blog post on “How to Choose a Landscape Company” would be too generic. This topic has been covered thousands of times. Instead, it would be better to write on specific topics that relate to a niche audience. An example might be, “Can I Transfer a Tulip to My Yard After it Has Bloomed?” You can also use local SEO to make your content more targeted and unique.
Backlinks Also Matter
Aside from content, Google also takes backlinks very seriously. It’s crucial that you have a strong link profile. In other words, your content needs inbound links from credible, relevant sources. Some research indicates that high quality backlinks can account for us much as 30% of your total page score!
In the end, the Fred update targeted sites with poor content, poor backlinks and an excess of advertisements. None of these features make a website enjoyable to use, which means Google does not want to feature it on the top search results.
How to Bounce Back from Fred
Not all websites that are affected by Google’s algorithm updates know they are in the wrong. Some are doing the best they can and end up getting hit – big time. If this describes you and you want to know what can be done to get your website in Google’s good graces again, we have a few tips you can benefit from. Let’s explore further.
Ads and Affiliate Links
If your website was affected by the Fred update, it’s possible that you have too many advertisements. While it’s fine to have affiliate links sprinkled throughout your website, an excess makes your site appear clunky, spammy and frustrating to use.
If your ads interfere with the user experience, you’ve gone overboard. Fortunately, you can fix things up on your end by deleting affiliate links that are not necessary, borderline spammy and a nuisance to your content.
The next thing to do is evaluate the quality of your link profile. There are many tools available to help you with this, including SEMrush and Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Use a tool to find out who is linking to your website and if these sources are reputable or spammy.
If you see anything that doesn’t look right, it’s probably in your best interest to disavow the links. The disavow tool is the fastest and easiest way to remove an eternal link to your site, but it can be more effective to reach out to the web owner and ask them to remove the link. However you choose to go about this, your ultimate goal is to create a stronger link profile that will look solid to Google.
Steady Wins the Race
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to improving websites. If you were penalized by Google, it will take time to recover. It’s important to improve your link profile and get rid of unnecessary affiliate links, but the content will take longer.
Continue producing great content and adding it to your site to boost your rankings and show Google that you can be trusted. For better results, make sure you throw in long-form blog posts that are 1,000+ words. There is a correlation between longer content and higher rankings.
If and when you are penalized by one of Google’s algorithms, it’s normal to feel defeated. Pick yourself back up and get your website up to par with the right improvements. In the end, these adjustments aren’t just for Google; they are for your audience too. You owe it to your customers to deliver quality, engaging content that offers a great user experience.