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: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf

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.

Terminology Poll: Sessions, Visits & Visitors

Our lifetime summary stats allow you to keep track of the number of Page Views, Unique Visits and Returning Visits since you added your project to StatCounter. These stats are independent of your normal log size, have no storage limit and are recorded on a daily basis, allowing you to see weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly totals.

If a visitor to your website has 5 page views in the morning, and returns to your website later that day for another 3 pageviews, we record this as 2 Unique Visits for that day. On another day, if you have 2 different people viewing your site in the morning, this would also be recorded as 2 Unique Visits.

Recently we’ve been working on adding a new stat to record distinct visitors to your site, so that in the above example, you’d see 1 visitor for the first day and 2 visitors for the second day.  The terminology between ‘Visits’ and ‘Visitors’ could be confusing though, so we are proposing to rename ‘Unique Visits’ to ‘Sessions’ in advance of adding the new stat. Let us know what you think in the poll below!

Current: Unique Visits (New Visitors stat will be in pink)

blog-unique-visits

 

Proposed: Rename Unique Visits to Sessions

blog-sessions

Note: Returning Visits hasn’t been shown in these screenshots, but it would likely be renamed to Returning Sessions.

 

We’d really love your feedback about what terminology you like the best and find easiest to understand. Please post your preferences in the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Pick your terminology!

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Continue reading “Terminology Poll: Sessions, Visits & Visitors”

10x Better Upgrades

We are always working to improve the StatCounter service we offer to our members. Thanks to the fantastic work done by our engineers over the last year we are thrilled to be able to make the following announcement.

All our upgrade plans have been multiplied by a factor of 10 at no extra cost.

Here is how the plans have changed.

  • 5,000 increased to 50,000
  • 10,000 increased to 100,000
  • 25,000 increased to 250,000
  • 50,000 increased to 500,000
  • 100,000 increased to 1,000,000
  • 200,000 increased to 2,000,000
  • 500,000 increased to 5,000,000
  • 1,000,000 increased to 10,000,000

These log size increases are available now to all new and existing upgraded customers. To assign the additional log space to your project simply log in to your StatCounter account. Click “Adjust Log” and assign the new log space.

We have also introduced two brand new plans.

  • 50,000,000 log quota priced at $249 a month.
  • 100,000,000 log quota priced at $399 a month.

If you don’t already have a StatCounter upgrade there has never been a better time to get it. Upgrades start from just $5 a month. In addition to log size increases you also get:

  • StatCounter API Access
  • Ad free experience for the website and mobile apps
  • Advanced Email Report Options
  • Long term keyword archival from Google Search Console

We hope you enjoy the new massive log sizes!

Custom Tags

Custom Tags is a new way to measure traffic with StatCounter.

It lets you tag pageviews on your website with whatever data you wish, allowing you to filter and segment your traffic in StatCounter reports in completely customised ways. This can lead to measurement and insights not previously possible with StatCounter.

For example, if you manage a blog, here’s some examples of questions you can now answer using Custom Tags:

  • Which authors generate the most traffic?
  • Which blog topics attract the most traffic?
  • Which types of headline attract the most readers?
  • Are long blogs more popular than blogs with lots of images and less text?

Answering these questions could help you optimise your content to attract more traffic.

An ecommerce website might want to know:

  • Which categories of product attract most attention?
  • What was the navigation flow of a user with a specific username or account ID?

(See Custom Tags Use Cases in the Knowledgebase for suggestions on how to use Custom Tags to answer these questions)

A pageview can be tagged with any data using one line of JavaScript code on your page.

For example in blog posts that feature a lot of images you could tag them like this:


_statcounter.push({“tags”: {“blog_format”: “image-heavy”}});


Or in blog posts with less images and more text you could use the following tag:


_statcounter.push({“tags”: {“blog_format”: “text-heavy”}});


(See How do I use Custom Tags in the Knowledgebase for important implementation details)

Once this data is recorded you can see how your tag values compare in the Custom Tags report:

custom_tags_blog_format_2

With the example code above you would be able to see which type of blog format attracts more traffic, and use that insight to help optimise blog posts in the future. You can also click on a tag value in this report to to see which of your urls perform best for that tag.

You can also filter many of our existing reports for these tag values.

Remember, the above are just sample ideas – you can tag your pageviews with any data that is useful to you.

We will be developing this feature further and adding new features to help you measure more with StatCounter. We’d love to hear your feedback on what you want to measure and how we can help make this happen with StatCounter.

Have fun and let us know what you think!

See Also:

How do I use Custom Tags?
Custom Tags Use Cases