In the second half of 2016 a lot of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry knew there
was something big coming down the pipe.
As expected, here comes Google making a rather significant change to their search algorithm in
early March of 2017. Code-named “Fred”, the impact is now changing the way many in the
digital marketing community are approaching their search engine optimization practices as well
how they develop in general. Let’s take a minute and get to know “Fred” and all his current
likes and dislikes.
We know that Google makes hundreds of updates every year to its core algorithm, but Fred
seems to have made an impact on an unexpected number of websites, which has left some in
the digital marketing world scratching their collective head. Most of the major updates are
significantly affecting traffic, focusing on either links or content. If there is an organic traffic
drop it usually means that the site is in violation of the Webmaster’s guidelines on quality.
While we are always excited about Google bringing critical new changes to the web, the
challenge in this instance is there is no way to know for sure what the exact focus of Fred may
have been. In collaborating with other SEO professionals, our results seem to primarily point to
content related sites. Combing through the negatively affected sites, they all seem to have two
things in common. The content appeared “shallow” and the site prioritized advertising over
user experience. This is all obviously speculation at this point, BUT one might argue curbing ad-
focused sites is a positive change for the community.
How much havoc did Fred wreak?
Some SEOs and webmasters have reported organic traffic reductions of 50 to 90 percent. I am
sure you imagine that sort of traffic drop would be considered serious by any measure. While
the fall out hit a narrow segment of websites, it was still significant in the search engine optimization industry.
This of course all begs the question now what? How do we proceed? If your website fell in the
category of sites effected there are a couple things you can do:
Step 1: Don’t panic.
Step 2: Evaluate
If the website in question was very dependent on ad revenue, chances are there were too many
ad units and pop ups on the site. In this case, scaling back the ad units and then evaluating
other revenue streams is the way to go. If shallow content was to blame then the key will be
identifying those pages and updating your content with relevant, attention grabbing copy.
While in theory this is all relatively straight forward, the tactical part of Fred is far more
complex. Making these changes on a strategic level will become ever more important as we
continue to move forward in the future. If you would like to learn more about our search engine optimization services we would be happy to speak to you.