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Right, said Fred, time to play by the rules

By Stephen Hudson - Digital Marketing Consultant.  

GoogleIf you work in the digital marketing industry, you'll know that Google is constantly tweaking, tweaking and tweaking yet again its search algorithm to ensure users are given the best possible experience. Everyone looking to succeed online should know of Google's previous algorithm updates such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, but did you know that Google has now launched a new algorithm update called Fred?

In early March (the 8th to be precise), many site owners were noticing extreme fluctuations in their traffic, with some sites experiencing traffic drops of 50% or more. What was causing this dramatic decline? Despite Google’s reluctance to reveal anything, it was in fact a new algorithm update which has since been called Fred – not quite as interesting as Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, I know!

Google may have finally confirmed Fred, but it hasn’t revealed exactly what sites were penalised and what search engine guidelines they broke, but industry chatter appears to indicate that content-driven sites which feature a high level of ad placements were targeted. It has also been suggested by experts within the search field that content sites specifically set up with the goal of generating AdSense income without offering users any beneficial experience were primarily targeted. It has been said that some webmasters who were affected by Fred have since removed most, if not all, of their advertisements and seen huge traffic recoveries.

It appears that the majority of sites penalised by Google were creating hundreds of keyword-based content posts stuffed full of targeted keywords. Most of the sites also had an unnatural ratio of prominent ads and affiliate links, all content was geared towards simply generating revenue rather than answering users’ queries, and the content was all in text form with little-to-no videos found.

User experience is key to online success

Advertisements can be the sole income for some webmasters, and therefore some site owners may feel that they have been punished unjustifiably. However, as has been mentioned so often over the past couple of years, to succeed online, a website needs to offer its users a great user experience that they can benefit from. There is no problem with affiliate links or using AdSense, so, if your site is ad heavy but offers users a beneficial user experience then I wouldn’t worry too much. Google will likely continue to refine its Fred algorithm to differentiate the websites primarily set up to make money while offering low-quality content from those surviving on ad income but offering users what they want.

For webmasters who have a site set up just to generate income, this algorithm update is just another nail in the coffin of quick fixes and trying to cheat the system.

If I’ve learned anything from my time in the digital sector, it’s that mobile is the most important thing in the world, and that there are no quick fixes; success online can take years of hard work. You need to work on building a great SEO campaign, targeting the right keywords, producing brilliant content that appeals and gives back to your visitors, and having a mobile-responsive website. Thankfully, the team here at Orantec are experts in all things digital and can help you whatever your goal. To find out more, get in touch today, we look forward to helping you grow your business online.


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