- Sep 3, 2014
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."
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.
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?
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?