Google changes its search algorithm around 500 times every year. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” update which affects internet search results in very significant ways. Last week was no exception…
It seems that there has been a step change at Google. The search giant’s past algorithmic updates have taken the names of furry animals (Panda, Penguin etc). So when we heard that Google’s wizardry had moved on from an entire species to the personality of a named individual, we were intrigued!
Google’s Gary Illyes jokingly referred to the latest update as “Fred” and the name stuck. An odd choice of name you might think but is there more to the name than meets the eye? Do you remember the character “Freddie” from the film Nightmare on Elm Street? This latest update could just be the Grim Reaper of the World Wide Web!Google’s latest update appears to focus on low-value content sites that focus primarily on revenue and not the “user experience”. So there is nothing new here. Google is just stepping up its commitment to quality content which is designed to give the best user experience.
There has been a lot of chatter online from webmasters who have already been bashed on the head by Fred. The vast majority of affected sites seem to follow a common theme. All affected sites seem to be content sites that present content on various different topics. All appear to be written for the purpose of ranking content only.
They key aspect though is that these sites have lots of adverts and/or affiliate links sprinkled throughout the articles. Quite often, the adverts or affiliate links don’t even relate to the content of the page. What’s more, many of these sites are not industry expert sites with a focus on one type of product or service. They seem to list content on a vast array of topics that are not adding any value over and above what other sites in the industry have already covered.
The results thanks to Fred have been pretty staggering. Most of the affected sites have seen a decline in organic traffic of between 50 and 90 per cent. It seems that Fred is a pretty heavy hitter!
So should you be worried? You’re probably thinking that you’re safe because you don’t own any sites like this. But what if there is content on a site like this which points a link at your own site? Do youhave your own affiliate scheme which people might be using to generate revenue for themselves?
Perhaps an old SEO hack left a link there some time ago which you didn’t know about. Now that this practice is known to flag abuse to our new friend “Fred”, will your competitors try to use this as a way to damage your profile?
Whilst the risks may be lessened, it’s a worrying thought isn’t it? Prudent website owners will take a renewed interest in their link profiles to ensure the links which point at their site fall into the ‘quality’ category. It’s more important than ever to monitor new links which pop up every month (quite naturally and without your knowledge) to make sure you are not being compromised.
If you’re worried about your SEO footprint and would like us to audit your link profile, we’d be very happy to help. Simply call us on 01730 77 66 33. And please don’t worry… we don’t have anyone working at the agency called “Fred”!