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

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 Basically, if Fred sees your content as irrelevant, outdated, or too ad-heavy, you may see some rankings drop.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 websites 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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  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. 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. I think Google think in favor of its users, not about greedy webmasters.

      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. Google is a company and not doing any social service, they are doing business to make profit. At least they are giving a chance for legit webmasters to rank for free and get traffic.

    2. 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!

    3. Same here. Traffic has picked up from Bing and Yahoo so I am not worried anymore. Also, I rank higher for keywords as well. A plus is, the visitors keywords shows in Statcounter unlike Google.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this much informative post and update us. You gave us a clue to recheck our website that why the website ranking is decreased ?

  6. I thought nobody really knew what this update was about? I’ve seen it discussed on a few different forums and nobody could pinpoint specifically why they’d been penalised. Some people even had good content and quality backlinks and got hit Thanks for sharing these tips but I want to ask how to remove spam backlinks? Thank you

  7. I thought nobody really knew what this update was about? I’ve seen it discussed on a few different forums and nobody could pinpoint specifically why they’d been penalised. Some people even had good content and quality backlinks and got hit. One of my sites lost some traffic when the ranking for some pages dropped.

  8. I thought nobody really knew what this update was about? I’ve seen it discussed on a few different forums and nobody could pinpoint specifically why they’d been penalised. Some people even had good content and quality backlinks and got hit. One of my sites lost some traffic when the ranking for some pages dropped, but they’re starting to come back now. That site had good content and backlinks, but hadn’t been updated for at least 6 months so I thought that was maybe why it dropped in rankings. I started adding fresh content and it started making a comeback.

  9. Google cant recognize quality cause after last big update alot of spam and low quality trash sites rewarded by google and got fixed top positions on serp so… google updates its not about to help its only holding the monopoly on the internet market ( Internet is google without google no internet 🙂 )

  10. This new algorithm is interesting because one of my abandoned blogs with no backlinks suddenly gets some traffic.

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