The Google Fred Update - March 2017

Discussion in 'Search' started by Ryuzaki, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. Ryuzaki

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    Ryuzaki 女性以上のお金 Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    In the past I was on top of these updates. I could tell you when they started, what they affected, and how to fix them. But now that my focus is narrowed to one branded authority site, these updates are flying under my radar. Which is good and not good, because one day one might sneak up and slap me that I could have seen coming if I was keeping up with the previous ones.

    I say all of that because I suspect the situation is the same for most of us here. We simply don't have the spread of 50 sites of several tiers of quality to really solve these new puzzles quickly.​

    What is the Google "Fred" Update?
    • Fred was an algorithm update or side-filter that seems to have rolled out on March 8th, 2017.
    • It's called Fred because bloggers were sick of "unnamed updates" so Gary Illyes declared all updates, unless otherwise stated, to be called Fred.
    • [My Opinion] Google Fred is the official release of Google's previous misuse of the "Thin Content Penalty."
    I've broken down the Thin Content Penalty in this context several times on BuSo scattered about, but FatJoe.co has released a great run down.

    Here's my summary and view of all this in condensed format of who got whacked (mix and match, bonus points for collecting them all...)
    • Your site had more review content than anything else.
    • Your site had an EMD that included "Best, Top, Reviews," etc.
    • Your site lacked entertainment content and educational content. You only worked at the bottom of the intent-funnel.
    • All of your content was hyper-optimized around exact match keywords instead of topics.
    • Your Display-Ad-to-Text ratio was way out of whack.
    • Your posts were walls of text that lacked images and videos.
    • You optimized around information queries and then wrote like it was a buying query post.
    • Your ratio of Affiliate-Links-to-Outbound-Links was way too high.
    • You featured affiliate links in every post. You went too hard in the mufuggin paint.
    • You didn't nofollow your affiliate links.
    Shout out to that FatJoe.co post linked above for this picture. Gary Illyes says the left is a good example of an affiliate site while the one on the right blows:

    [​IMG]
    The difference? Not much. One actually has a logo (The guy on the right deserves to be penalized for that nonsense), one only uses exact match keywords as their post titles. The other "evidence" of having two ads is bunk, if you ask me. That's not too many, but it may have compounded the issue and tipped them over the threshold.

    It's pretty easy to not get hit by this, I suspect. What would I suggest as a solution to the problem, or at least a way to dodge it in the future?

    Ryuzaki's Method to Defeat Google Fred

    It can all be boiled down to one phrase that we've been preaching forever...

    Be a brand, build a brand footprint, and publish for humans (not robots).
    That's it. Don't look like a brand. BE A BRAND. Contribute to society. That's all it takes. Things you should be doing anyways but that will coincidentally safeguard you from Google Fred are:
    • Have a consistent Brand Image across all properties. This means a logo, a tight hex-based color scheme, have a unique web design, etc.
    • Write for people and optimize around topics, not keywords. Yes, you can go for a specific keyword in your title, but the post needs to feature a lot of LSI terms if you want to rank anyways, and you get bonus long-tail searches. The way to do this is to write naturally and for humans. You will use most of the right terms if you do this.
    • Don't have post titles right out of the keyword tool. There's no need for "Dog Training Tips" when you can go with "10 Clever Dog Training Tips For Faster Results." If you want to stuff the key-phrase in an isolated format, do it as your URL slug or something, not in the friggin title.
    • Add pictures, videos, lists, tables, and other forms of enhanced content to your posts. Don't outsource it, paste it into the text editor, and hit publish.
    • Build social profiles and use them. You need real users and engagement. Build business citations. Get branded anchor text links. Really, if you produce content for humans and actually market it, this most of these "brand" things will happen on their own.
    • For every Review style money-making post you publish, publish at least 10 other non-money-makers. I'd push that to 15, and make sure 5 of them aren't even optimized around any keywords at all. A blog is perfect for that. 5 casual blog posts with no affiliate links or optimization, 10 educational / informational posts without heavy monetization... and then you've earned your 1 money maker. Repeat. You'll eventually have a huge, invincible site, because guess what does (entertainment and educational) and doesn't (review) attract links and social signals?
    I guarantee you that whoever does that will never be hit by an on-page algorithm change ever again. And if you aren't a spammer and overt link-buyer, you'll never get hit by the off-page ones either.

    Conclusion
    Like I said though, I didn't get hit by this, so my word may not be as good as gold. My last horrid affiliate sites were taken out under the guise of the Thin Content Penalty (seems like an earlier rendition of this algo update), so none of this surprised me or affected me. I had already paid the cost and warned of impending doom. I did get a chance to talk to a couple folks and it all falls within what's typed above.

    I can't imagine it will take much to escape this, but the question is... will we have to wait on a refresh or is it already a live and rolling update?

    Anyone managing a larger portfolio, can you give us any more insight? Anyone who got hit on their main project / projects... have you identified any factors that aren't mentioned above or ones that should be emphasized?
     
  2. Maria

    Maria

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    I got hit by this on my new site which I started last August. On the 7th I had just shy of 500 visitors and that was the normal for the site - it has been slowly increasing month on month. On the 8th and 9th March I had 400 on each day, 10th I had closer to 300, 11th was 250, 12th was 150 and that seems to be where it has remained.

    I have 140 articles currently. Backlinking has been majority guest posts and I don't have lots - been doing a few every so often I am given the opportunity. I did one expert post as well on it which got a lot of shares etc.

    Haven't had a chance to evaluate it properly but I have another site I started around the same time. It has much less content and is only getting around 50 visitors a day. It has been neglected the last month as simply haven't had time to spread myself over 2 sites. The backlinking technique on that has been a top 50 post, a question to the experts post and interviews for other sites. It seems to have improved slightly (certainly hasn't got worse!) from this update.

    My other sites seem to be unaffected and continue bringing in the money - haven't touched them in ages and no backlinking done for them.

    I do need to evaluate the situation but I have been focusing on continuing content as to get me away from the mood it could put me in if I think about it too much. Plus I wanted to wait until I was sure it was over with too. Definitely will factor in what you have said above though.
     
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  3. Blackthorne

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    Blackthorne

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    I've pumped out too many review pages in retrospect. I'd review 40 products on a single page. The pages would be 16k words long, though. It gives me high dwell times.

    I recently started a blog on the same site. I'm definitely pumping out more information stuff from now on.

    I love your advice on going 1:15 when it comes to $page:no$page. I will likely implement that strategy on my next site.
     
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  4. GrindingTo10K

    GrindingTo10K

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    I am going to do this on my site and it will probably be the difference between failure and survival. Thanks @Ryuzaki!
     
  5. Ryuzaki

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    Ryuzaki 女性以上のお金 Staff Member

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    I'd say there might be some hints to be drawn from this site but it also may be a case of simply slipping under the radar due to not having enough content to determine with statistical confidence that it's "just another affiliate site."
     
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  6. Maria

    Maria

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    I have quite a few pages still on page one - they haven't moved. These aren't easy easy keywords either. I had a few that were very easy keywords to rank for - in fact ranked on page one after a day of publishing - they are gone now to 3 and beyond. I am wondering if there maybe an issue with onpage seo? Anyone else found this?

    I have just got rid of duplicate content though - i.e. noindexed tag and category pages. That's something I hadn't done.
     
  7. Maria

    Maria

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    Just to add my site seems to be recovering - up 100 visitors...I hope that means it will continue to go up and at least get back to normal levels.
     
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  8. GrindingTo10K

    GrindingTo10K

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    Then maybe it was just a Google "dance"?
     
  9. Kay

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    Kay

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    My suspicion as well.
     
  10. Maria

    Maria

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    No i don't think it was just a dance. It hasn't improved anymore. It is still down by a lot of traffic..it just recovered slightly it would seem.

    Seems like some people are experiencing up and downness still. I must admit I feel like I am back to square one with this site.
     
  11. GrindingTo10K

    GrindingTo10K

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    Were you earning a lot from that site before the algo update?
     
  12. Maria

    Maria

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    The site isn't a year old yet but it was making over £1000 (the last two months before that it has doubled in income every month - set it up in July, starting proper work in August). I have put a lot of effort into the site. It's not my only site but it is the one I have put the most effort in as I want to grow it to an authority. I know it is very young though. Wish I was good at working out what could have hit it. I have never been hit before by an uipdate - never happened on any of my other sites. Only difference is I never built links before. Maybe the guest posts I did - those sites got hit too.

    Oh well all you can do is push on can't you?
     
  13. Ryuzaki

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    Ryuzaki 女性以上のお金 Staff Member

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    Remember too, regarding the discussion of movement occurring around the time of an major algorithm change...

    You'll never have a "dance" without the addition of a relatively significant amount of page rank or anchor text percentage change due to new links. The only other case is the honeymoon phase when you publish and rank higher and then start to sink or quickly sink. This is in order to establish a bit of SERP-related engagement metrics like CTR, dwell time, and pogo-sticking.

    If you see massive movement during an algorithm change it may have nothing to do with you at all. People above you could have experienced a loss. People below you might experience a win. They both can be shuffling as Google course-corrects the weighting. If everyone around you is jumping around, you'll be jumping too, even if you personally aren't affected by the algorithm change yourself.

    Chaos is never the time to seek meaning. Only to create it.
     
  14. Nat

    Nat

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    Do you think the length of these 15 additional pieces is important? That is a lot of content to be pushing out. I'm thinking about covering more broad industry news and re-writing with niche perspective. So, I'd estimate 200-400 word posts that mention a news story/event with my niche's perspective. Each would probably include one or two block quotes. The non-quoted content would be unique, but news is news, so it would essentially just be re-writing + a few opinion statements.
     
  15. Riexxel

    Riexxel

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    For every Review style money-making post you publish, publish at least 10 other non-money-makers.

    So why websites like Reviews.com and more are still working so well? They should be hit by every single Google update, but it's not happening...
     
  16. Ryuzaki

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    Ryuzaki 女性以上のお金 Staff Member

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    I don't know, honestly. I don't allow for anything under 300 words on the blog, and even if it's in that range it's loaded with video and unique images. And even then it's a special case. I try to make sure everything hits 500-800 words, even on the casual, fun blog posts.

    If I had to take a guess, I'd think it would be fine if it's not text only. Toss in an image or two and maybe a video and I'm sure it'd be fine. But I wouldn't want to load up on too many ultra-short posts either, since Panda has an eye on that kind of thing.

    The quote above is a loaded statement.

    For one, this is the first update to ever overtly attack sites that mainly only go after buying-intent keywords.

    Second, there's always iterations after the unveiling of an update. Usually they dial it back some because they take out too many innocent bystanders. In the same vein, too many guilty parties go unpunished.

    This is the nature of an algorithm, meaning not only will they not catch everyone (this is the only reason spamming even exists), but other variables may safeguard you from suffering a loss, such as Reviews.com having at least (as reported by Ahrefs) 5,760 referring domains producing over 488,000 backlinks. There's trust and authority packaged in that. The algorithm has likely determined that people find this site valuable, which is the opposite of what spammers provide.

    They may take a whack soon, they may not. But just because one white crow exist doesn't mean the rest aren't still black. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!
     
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  17. Jitsiereveld

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    Jitsiereveld I'm just going to listen and learn today...

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    I know Google has been really moving toward location-based results but wasn't there a way to disable it or use an Incognito browser to not get those results. Or could this recent update have done away with that, or maybe a previously recent update?

    I don't really mind location based result normally, but when I tried to search for the word "grand" to find out its actual definition as well as other results related to the definition. 80% of the results were location based with Grand Valley State University as the number one result.

    I could have sworn there was a way around this. Am I missing something?
     
  18. Concept

    Concept

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  19. Michael

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    Michael

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    Seems to me that this update was just rolled out to clean up the trash. From that report I see that they hit thin content sites and heavily advertised sites. Same old stuff, no?

    I'm keeping like a 8:1 rato on my site. 8 informing posts with zero affiliate links, and 1 money post. Do others follow a similar ratio?
     
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  20. GrindingTo10K

    GrindingTo10K

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    Do you also mask your affiliate links? Eg. yoursite.com/out/amazonproductpage123/
     
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  21. Cesare

    Cesare

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    That will get you an Amazon ban
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2017
  22. Ryuzaki

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    Ryuzaki 女性以上のお金 Staff Member

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    It won't. We've had a long discussion about it where I spoke to several employees who assured me it's fine. You can get the details here but it boils down to making sure Amazon can tell where the traffic is coming from.

    Countless numbers of sites big and small do this and don't get banned. My current site in it's 3rd year with redirects since day one and I'm still here after having had a handful of Amazon Affiliate customer support employees browse my site as I pointed out everything for a "yes or no" in regards to compliance.

    Lots of people will assume its the reason they were banned and scream it from the mountain tops but it's never the case. Usually it's iframing and posting their links on forums, social media, wherever. They don't know the rules, and then blame a non-rule for getting banned.

    When you do this kind of thing, you need to make sure you're sending the right information to Google too. I recommend a 302 (Moved Temporarily) or 307 (Temporary Redirect) Redirection in the headers along with a noindex of the /out/ folder in robots.txt and a noindex and nofollow imperative in the headers as well.

    This way Google doesn't start indexing Amazon pages for your site AND you have them nofollow. Because if you don't have nofollow you have paid or incentivized dofollow links on your site and that's against Google's rules. Coincidentally it's one of the ways they sniff out low quality affiliate sites and hit them with the thin-content penalty (and now Fred).
     
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  23. SeoReborn

    SeoReborn

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    whats your bounce and time on site stats like?
     
  24. Nat

    Nat

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    Let's say you're running AdSense or Amazon Native Ads/CPM on every page, would you still consciously avoid inserting Amazon affiliate links into non-money-makers and 'unoptomized' posts? You've already got paid obl. I understand why there is a need for a 10:1 ratio on "Buyer's Guide" and other hyper money focused terms. I understand that not from Google, but just from being a user.

    For educational, informational, and 'unoptimized' blog posts let's say I'm doing some roundups, or interviews, or maybe stories. And in each of these pieces a book or product is mentioned in some form or fashion. Should I really avoid hyperlinking the book's title to a nofollow Amazon redirect link?
     
  25. Charles Floate

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    Charles Floate The Artist Formerly Known as God of SEO

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    Just as a quick note to people seeing fluctuation for reasons beside what @Ryuzaki said.. There were actually 4 updates in the last 4 weeks.
    • A core algo update that hit niche relevancy (8th of March)
    • A penguin update that did penguin things (within 72h of the core update)
    • A knowledge graph update on March 30th / 31st (which put the knowledge box and answer boxes in non-question related SERPs)
    • A further penguin refresh on April 4th (which likely used the data from the update a month prior to better tweak the algo)
     
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