Google released a search algorithm update earlier this year that has become known as Fred. These are the changes; see how they impact your site.
First, Who Exactly Is Fred?
Fred is the unofficial name given to an unconfirmed update to the Google search engine in March 2017. Up until the last couple of years, Google announced major changes to their search algorithms and gave them names such as Panda or Penguin.
Recently, Google has stopped naming or even publicly confirming its updates. Instead, webmasters can only guess as to when Google has made changes. When Google rankings shifted wildly in March, SEO analyst Gary Illyes jokingly blamed the Fred update, and the name stuck.
What Did Fred Do in March?
In early March, many webmasters noticed their sites plummeting in Google rankings. The majority of these websites were heavily monetized with affiliate links and other ads.
The consensus is that Google was targeting low-quality sites that attempted to drive ad views through aggressive back-linking and other SEO tactics rather than putting usefulness to human readers first. While Google has refused to comment, these types of websites saw traffic declines of up to 90 percent.
What Should You Do About Fred?
As a business owner, the good news is that Google is not targeting you. Google wants small businesses that provide actual services to rise above low-quality blogs that give readers no value.
The bad news is that certain low-cost SEO tricks may trigger Fred even if you weren’t Fred’s intended target. One is trying to get links to your site on random blogs, forums, comment post, and other non-organic locations. Another is if you have a blog, but it’s deemed low quality because of grammar errors, similarities to other blogs and other factors.
This is why it’s always important to understand the how and why of your SEO strategy even if you want to completely delegate the SEO work. To make both Fred and your customers happy, your focus should include the following:
- Local search presence to let Google know you’re a real business with a verified location.
- Mobile optimization to ensure your website works on all devices so consumers can find you no matter how they search.
- Purpose-driven blogs and videos that are specifically designed to help your target customers rather than to just throw something up in the hope it will boost your rankings.