Google’s Fred Algorithm Update – 5 Steps to Take Now!

If you have any questions or are worried about how the new Fred update may have affected your website traffic, feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation with one of our experts.

Google is always tight-lipped about the changes they make to their algorithm, however, the change on March 7th/8th was large enough for many website owners and digital marketing firms to notice substantial changes in traffic and rankings. This new algorithm update, simply known as “Fred”, is believed to primarily target websites with low-quality content and backlinks. Often, these two factors occur simultaneously and on websites that have utilized SEO companies to quickly build low-quality content and backlinks.

Google has confirmed the Fred algorithm update, but they were weary of giving too much information about it. The only clue given to website owners was that Fred targeted websites that were not abiding by the webmaster guidelines. Based on our research here at StatCounter, we have determined that sites with low-quality content and unnatural backlinks, purely meant to drive revenue have been the most hurt by this update.

Here are five things you can do right now to see if you were affected and start recovering any lost rankings and traffic

1) Look at your analytics. Did you see a drop in the traffic or the number of keywords you were ranking for between March 5th and the 20th. If no you are probably fine if you did then read on.

2) See if you can categorize your content into 2 buckets – high quality and updated vs low quality and old.

3) Match your lost keywords, based on traffic volume and previous rankings, with any low-quality content pages.

4) Improve your content quality immediately. Start by adding to, rewriting, and making your low quality pages better. Start with the pages that were driving the most traffic pre-Fred (see number 3).

5) Use a backlink spam tool or checker and to find and remove any questionable backlinks. Also, ensure that your remaining “good” backlinks appear natural and in reasonable ratios. For instance, no-follow to follow ratios, anchor text similarities, etc. are all things that Google takes into account when determining the value of your backlinks.


Fred Algorithm Update Changes and Concerns

The update has now been around long enough for us to start piecing together the puzzle. The first factor is content. If your site’s rankings are heavily dependent on multiple long-tail keywords and the content that matches those keywords was written before 2014, you may have been affected. Basically, if Fred sees your content as invaluable, outdated, or too ad-heavy, you may see some rankings drop.

The second factor is low-quality backlinks. If you’ve ever paid for generic or easy to spot “artificial” backlinks, Fred may have just penalized you. Websites with a lot of old content likely also have a lot of old backlinks. Since low backlinks and low quality content often go hand in hand, this correlation makes it difficult to determine which, if not both factors is driving changes in rankings.

Avoiding the Fred Penalty

This isn’t the first algorithm update Google has rolled out to encourage high quality content, and it likely won’t be the last. The best way to avoid and or recover from a Fred penalty is to focus on creating high-quality, in-depth, and authoritative content on your site. If your website has a lot of old content you will want to go back through and optimize these pages to meet their quality standards. Here is a link to Google’s most recent quality guideline:

Also, since Google said this update targeted website’s that were not following the webmaster guidelines, you may want to review these as well to ensure you accidently aren’t practicing any black hat or out of date SEO techniques. For the rest of 2017, focus on creating quality content for your website rather than generating large amounts of cheap and quickly written content.

Track Your Traffic with StatCounter

StatCounter offers free website analytics to millions of websites around the world. We also track changes in search engines and keep our members informed with the latest news. If you’d like to start using StatCounter to see how changes like Fred affect your website click here to sign-up.

104 comments on “Google’s Fred Algorithm Update – 5 Steps to Take Now!

  1. I have a legitimate website with lots of content that is written for humans and was providing content that was very popular and getting lots of views and comments. Then Fred rolled in and wiped it out almost overnight. You’re just jumping through Google’s hoops like a little circus seal. Don’t be that seal.

    Build a loyal following and write for them. Google can go F itself in my opinion.

      1. Google is trying to “redirect” webmasters to use adwords, to pay if we want traffic, google getting smarter, is about google making money. Why do u think googlr is changing the algorhytm all the time? Based on what? Spam?? C’mon, if u have low content site and you use adwords, guess what? Google is more than happy to send traffic if u pay… google became bullshit

    1. Baz, if you provide content for amphibians, Fred might see it as valuable. Just start simple, like Froggish.

      A loyal following of various species, specially in tanks by PCs, will send traffic through the roof!

  2. There are many websites out there that just buy backlinks, just to obtain better ranking to obtain more traffic. Maybe this update will sort the men from the boys in the Webmaster rules.

  3. My blog has started in October 2016. I write all content by my experiences , so I think it’s not a outdated content. But in 08/03/2017, all traffic has dropped 60%. I think “Fred” has problem in crawling data. I will take 5 steps you have recommend and waiting for “Fred” crawling my site again.

  4. by far, I think google is moving faster then it probably should, in a few years, and probably not that long, I suspect google will only allow authority sites, and sites with content written by someone with high level of writing education, and setup like a pro. I have seen pages setup to the level of a skilled webmaster, and the content probably took days or even weeks to write, and if google continues to go in this direction, then there is no reason getting involved with a site if google has such high exceptions from every site, and I suspect 99%+ of site owners do not have website skill level, much less the skill level to create high quality content, or the content that google is looking for. The content you write today, even if you think it is good, may not be good enough for google tomorrow.

  5. Eventually, I would expect this to lead to the arrival of new competitors to Google. Not at the broad level, but little niches here and there. It is an opportunity for some. The “Algo” changes are likely more of a cover for censorship than they are for producing “better” serp results.

    It would be wise for all to think seriously about who and what is being censored into non existence. There is not likely very much time left to find certain types of information via Google.

  6. Google believe that it controls the internet. They start a great program and delete it years later, like Panaramio. Google may not think so, but in my web world they are the worst search engine out there, because they believe in control and not truth. Why hide keywords from us in Stats counter, because they are evil. One might bet that all those employees that write Algorithms, find a more lucrative job that suits them, maybe used car salesmen? Yeah that would work. You can’t hurt me Google so don’t brag that you can. Up yours Fred!

  7. Currently I am also facing the traffic drop problem for my few clients but not assured about this update. As the folks are discussing about the overload ads, shallow content so hope it’s just for that

  8. Fred about is not about the backlink quality and all. It’s about the site only based for the monetisation and not adding much value. Just like coupon websites. That got the worst hit.

  9. I write all the content for my site for the past 7 years, however i don’t have much backlinks ( i don’t agree paying for backlinks) and i have not seen drop in traffic to my site.

  10. I think everytime google update their algorithm, then spam site really should disappear from serp, but i always get notified that spam site is up from google alert. I always setup some keyword with google alert, so i always knew if some site with that keyword has shown in serp.

  11. I’ve about had it with google trying to make us jump every time they flinch. I have educational sites that wind up penalized every time they come up with some update. They are no longer part of my strategy and I’m tired of being led around with a ring in my nose.

    Relevant, quality back links, a lot of them, is the way to go.

  12. Fwiw, my personal photography site is completely unaffected, and if anything has increased its SERPs in the last year. The site is non commercial, has only ever bought some directory links but the rest of the links are legit (about 60k backlinks). This is very much a great content reference site that is recommended all over the place.

    I’m not bringing this up to brag or anything, it’s just that it seems that the thin content commercial people are the ones complaining the most, and have been hardest hit. I can sympathize with this because the day job is also digital marketing. And in the day job the boss kept pressurising and pressurising to get more leads from the web, so we bought leads, and guess what that site completely went to **** over the last 5 years.

    Just a personal moan and insight into the people that Google hurts when it does these algo changes. I do think they’re right – buying links is cheap, a bad way to move forward.

  13. Thank you so much for the great information about this update.. I am really very tensed after this update
    My website pageview decreased by 15% .. although bounce rate decreased 5% and time per user increase 10-15%.
    So overall profit is down 15% and I am losing major keyword positions everyday after that update.. alexa ranking is also increasing. And my earning to decreased 50% ..Can you please tell me what should I do to get back my position within a month 🙁

  14. Thanks for this valuable information. I was looking detailed information about Google’s Fred Algorithm. Luckily found this article, it is well explained and informative.
    Thank you!

  15. Very Good Update, Websites with low quality backlinks affected bad. Disavowing the low quality links will help you to reach the old positions i hope.
    Google seems to rank blogpost better than the pages with similar content in my experience for some of my clients. (informational topics only)

  16. Older and lower quality content definitely took a hit. With this update, I think Google went after people getting their content from Fiverr and just putting things up for the sake of rankings.

  17. Thank you for this incredible post.
    May I know where I can keep myself updated about google ranking factors, algorithm updates & much more? Any specific blog or forum?

    By the way, Thank you.

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