As soon as Google released an update to their search algorithm, it immediately changed the game and techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. It impacted everyone in the SEO community, from website owners to webmasters. In spring of 2017, Google released Google Fred Update and stirred up the entire SEO world with people all around the world speculating its impact on their sites. And you shouldn’t take it lightly either!
Now why this particular update is causing so much panic is because people all around the globe are reporting up to 90% loss in their organic web traffic post the update. Some polls say, out that nearly 43% of websites on the internet were impacted by this particular update. Sounds scary, isn’t it?
What is the Google Fred Update?
The Fred Update is speculated to be the latest update by Google to clean the bad and spammy practices done by the websites in order to increase their domain authority and website traffic. This will, in theory, increase rankings in search results. However, according to Barry Schwartz’s research published on Search Engine Land, the update changed more than just that. His team reviewed more than 100 websites that were impacted by this particular update. The review found out that update targets ad-heavy, and low-value content sites that focus only on generating revenue and not to provide useful and helpful information to their users. Schwartz also stated that all these sites have two things in common:
- They are blogging and news site which means they are content based. These sites had content on a vast array of topics but were not adding much value above what other sites in the industry have already written.
- Heavy focus on ad placements and ads instead of on content.
Meanwhile, another report published by Sreelal G. Pillai in TechWyse said that affected sites also have low-quality backlinks in common which means that the sites that link back to them all have low domain authority.
So if you run one such site, you should be worried about this new update.
Why was the Google Fred Update created?
The idea why Google changed the way we perceive digital marketing, is because many people tried to use it just to generate more money rather than providing value to their user. I think Google is doing the right thing to keep an order across the internet and maintain the standard of the websites. You have to obey the rules if you want to reach a wider audience!
Google Fred Update was created in order to provide the internet users a better experience with a possibility to find more relevant information that is exactly related to their search queries. Google doesn’t want their users to be tricked by “black-hat” SEO techniques that cause poor websites to rank high on their first page, and yet to deliver nothing except frustrating moment for the user. Google’s new algorithm update impact on websites that have a low value of content and only wish to generate revenue from ads. Most websites that are affected are affiliate-based ones that provide a poor experience in order to increase clicks. Google is trying to eliminate this particular low-value concept and to establish different expectations and standards for new and existing websites.
How to Prepare Your Site For 2018?
1. Have a User-Friendly Website Design
All websites should have user-friendly designs that will help visitors to simply navigate from one page to another in order to get to the desired information they are seeking on your site. The site should have appropriate category structure and clean navigation. It is important to have a supplemental link such top content, and also a clean design that looks professional and useful.
Always ask yourself these questions while deciding the design of your site-
- Is the page layout clear and logical?
- Is it easy to navigate and/or find what you’re looking for?
- Is it easy to read the content on your site?
- Do all the links on your site is pointing to where they should?
- Do your pages use SEO properly
If not, work on to improve it immediately!
2. Achieve Ads-to-Content Ratio Balance
Websites that were affected by Google Fred Updates are ones that provided less information and more of click-bait. If you have such a site, you should find out a way to create a balance between informative content, and ads that are on the site. If your site is full of ads that means it’s going to be affected. Try to design clear-cut ad spaces all around the site like in the middle of a content or in a particular corner of the site. It’s a good practice to avoid putting any ads on pages like the home page or contact page. Quality content that providing genuine and useful information should be the important part of your new SEO strategy which means that you may have to rewrite all the inappropriate and badly written content on your site.
3. Be Specific
You must use specific content, just find an appropriate topic, research and write an in-depth content only about it. For example, if you choose to create a website about the automotive industry, you can review different cars, talk about the latest model of bikes, inform your visitors about any latest technology that is trending in the industry and everything else that goes in the same box as the main niche, in this case ‘Automobile’. However, you must not talk about literature, health, fitness or anything that doesn’t have anything to do with the main theme of your website. You have to be able to answer clearly to questions about the topic you are writing about. The same thing goes for keywords. Including relevant Keyword is still important, but you have to be careful in not over-stuffing it. Try to keep your keyword density to roughly 2-5% or in general include the keyword only once or twice in the whole content, overusing the same phrase might have a negative impact on your rankings. Try using the synonym for the keywords for better results.
4. Do Not Post Duplicate Content
The most common practice among websites is they post highly plagiarized content for generating more traffic to their website. This practice also involves just copy-pasting an old article and changing the dates. You should avoid this practice as it will impact your website negatively. If your website has duplicate contents, you are making it vulnerable to be penalized by all the major search engines and the site may end up ranking low in the search results.
5. Check your content for errors
Critically analyze your content pages and blog posts for any inaccuracies or grammatical errors. Try including more of the long-form contents and rewrite them if you have any old content to add more depth and value to it. If your contents are thin, badly organized, or full of errors, you’ll get penalized!
6. Develop a Healthy Domain Authority
The idea of every website is to exist for an informative purpose and not just to make money through affiliate marketing and ads. Your website must have a healthy domain authority with legitimate websites linking back to your contents. Just say no to link schemes, including paid links and spam and if any of the irrelevant and spammy sites are pointing to you, just go ahead and contact those sites and ask them to take down your link. This will easily distinguish your site from others that exist only to generate traffic for revenue and clicks.
Also, avoid using automated tools or bots like mass blog commenting bots to create backlinks.
7. Avoid Cloaking
Cloaking is a technique that presents one page to human visitors and a totally different format of the same page to search engine crawlers in order to deceptively boost the site’s rank. Search engine bots will out-smart you there!
8. Say No to Automatically Generated Content
Perhaps the laziest black hat technique you can think of! The automatically generated content you create through various programming gathers paragraphs of random text interspersed with keywords that are hardly meaningful or provide any value to the reader. Although it saves you the cost of hiring a content writer, it will damage your site in the long run.
Google updates its algorithms as often as multiple times per day. Most of these changes are minor tweaks and updates that go unnoticed. However, larger updates like Hummingbird and Fred affect the sites severely and that’s what makes them crucial to prepare for.
Although, the Fred update will create comparatively a small dent on the number of site visitors to the established sites with big brands or they will update themselves to rank better, new websites struggling to create a strong presence need to be more careful and should avoid looking spammy. This applies even to the non-profit or small-businesses websites. You have to understand what makes Google tick in order to find the best SEO technique for the future.
Hope, your site isn’t too badly affected by Fred. Try to apply these suggestions and remember, you have to create perfect website content that aligns with visitor’s search intent. It’s important to remember that sleazy SEO tactics that may have worked in the past aren’t likely to remain viable strategies for long.