The Google Fred Update - March 2017

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#27
85% and average session duration is 1 min.
Get that down. Bounce rate and time on site is ranking factor. Google gives us a chance by ranking us high to check these stats. If bounce rate high and time on site is low, you are likely to get demoted.

My articles get bounce rate below 20% (10 to 15%) and ave time on site 4-5min plus. I see google dance but they stay on high end of the ranking range in the end. Very little links.
 
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#28
Get that down. Bounce rate and time on site is ranking factor. Google gives us a chance by ranking us high to check these stats. If bounce rate high and time on site is low, you are likely to get demoted.

My articles get bounce rate below 20% (10 to 15%) and ave time on site 4-5min plus. I see google dance but they stay on high end of the ranking range in the end. Very little links.
It is dependent on where traffic is from. For social and referral traffic the bounce rate is 50% and time on site is 3 mins average.

I am not 100% sure how accurate the other traffic is because I do have a problem with phantom traffic/spam traffic showing up in my analytics. (Any tips for getting rid of it?)

I have looked at individual articles and a lot have session time averaging 5mins+.

Thanks for the tip though - will analyse some more. I can't imagine being able to get it down to 20% though!
 
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#29
Look for the bounce rate and time on site from search traffic.

You'll need to look for bot ip (http://www.iplists.com/) and block them on your analytics. However, I have not blocked mine (no reason, I didn't bother).
 
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#31
In short. Relevancy. Then formatting of the article is important, short paragraphs. I don't have more than 3 sentences per paragraph, mostly less. Images to break up the text. Make it easily digestible, scannable.

Include in the article a poll/quizz, and infographics.

Read time also correlates with the length of the article.
 
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#32
In short. Relevancy. Then formatting of the article is important, short paragraphs. I don't have more than 3 sentences per paragraph, mostly less. Images to break up the text. Make it easily digestible, scannable.

Include in the article a poll/quizz, and infographics.

Read time also correlates with the length of the article.
Alright, I've got a 3,000 word guide that helps people pick between like a million widget options. Starts off by essentially saying "In a rush? Here's a quick summary:"

Then the article is pretty well segmented with headers organizing different sections. Nested headers go pretty deep, lots h4s, which I think makes it really easy to skim. There are some paragraphs with 4-5 sentences, but plenty of short ones.

I may be lacking on images, but 25% of people are bouncing in 1-10 seconds - see stats of the last page here.
 
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#33
I have sort of solved what was wrong with my site. I followed a free pdf on on-page seo on one of my pages - made some changes. This page was ranking on page 4 for its keyword (on page 1 before hit by the update) - I checked it today - 2 days later and it is now on page 1 :D

This happened to be one of the articles I had on the site that I had written myself. I tend to just write naturally and not think about keywords or anything while writing - but obviously writing naturally wasn't enough and it came across like I had too many keywords in it. I actually don't think its the keyword itself was the problem it was the words in the keyword scattered around the page separately that was.

So now to go through all the pages that were hit and see if they redeem their rankings with this approach. I do hope so.

I did notice I had a few spammy backlinks from weird sites so I will do that after I have done the onpage stuff so I have a clear indication of the problems going forward.

It feels good right now to have at least brought one of my pages back to page 1. Hopefully I can do this with the rest!
 
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#34
I have sort of solved what was wrong with my site. I followed a free pdf on on-page seo on one of my pages - made some changes. This page was ranking on page 4 for its keyword (on page 1 before hit by the update) - I checked it today - 2 days later and it is now on page 1 :D

This happened to be one of the articles I had on the site that I had written myself. I tend to just write naturally and not think about keywords or anything while writing - but obviously writing naturally wasn't enough and it came across like I had too many keywords in it. I actually don't think its the keyword itself was the problem it was the words in the keyword scattered around the page separately that was.

So now to go through all the pages that were hit and see if they redeem their rankings with this approach. I do hope so.

I did notice I had a few spammy backlinks from weird sites so I will do that after I have done the onpage stuff so I have a clear indication of the problems going forward.

It feels good right now to have at least brought one of my pages back to page 1. Hopefully I can do this with the rest!
I had a site that was impacted around this time frame as well. I diluted my internal anchor links and have noticed a shift the past two days as well. I wonder if there was an adjustment made to the Fred parameters.
 
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#35
I had a site that was impacted around this time frame as well. I diluted my internal anchor links and have noticed a shift the past two days as well. I wonder if there was an adjustment made to the Fred parameters.
Well I tweaked one page and that was the only one that had movement - or significant movement. I tweaked some others yesterday and today checking they have started to move as well - going to keep doing that see what happens.

Definitely made me feel a bit more in control of the situation.
 
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#36
I had a site that was impacted around this time frame as well. I diluted my internal anchor links and have noticed a shift the past two days as well. I wonder if there was an adjustment made to the Fred parameters.
Funny you mention internal anchors. I added six new articles to a (stable) established site of mine last week. My money page SERPs dropped like a stone the next day.

I removed the SILO links and bounced back 2 days later.

Made me think the algo seems to have been 'tuned up' with the recent update(s)
 
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#38
Yep - it seems that way.
Serps have been stable ever since removing the SILO'd links with EMD anchors.

But with all the algo volatility at the moment who the hell knows??
 

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#39
We're just under three months down the road now. Despite all of the speculation and coincidental & correlated movements, I feel very confident in reiterating that Fred is mainly looking at the ratio of pages designed around terms like:
  • Best _____
  • ____ Reviews
  • ____ vs. _____
  • Etc.
I've seen at least 10 more examples of this since my last post in here and they all fit the bill. I even downloaded a few courses to see what example sites they were showing that were doing so good that they served as examples... and they're all penalized now.

The only survivors out there are sites that had already busted some trust and authority thresholds, like TheWirecutter, and sites that likely have backdoor deals and contacts.

This is a great chance for a big buyer with a big budget to buy up a lot of sites on the cheap and fix them. Seems like it'll simply take a lot of content and labor to post it, and waiting. I wouldn't go for the EMD sites like BestToasterin2017.net though.

If you're starting a site, you'll do good to read the opening post here and realize that greed is the easiest target for Google to exploit and is the very thing spammers do. Don't become a civilian casualty when this is the easiest penalty ever to dodge.

Better yet, stop building Made-for-Advertising and Affiliate Sites, and build a brand and be a marketer. Do that, don't spam links, and you'll never have a problem with Google ever again.
 
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#40
I have an admittedly blatant Amazon affiliate site that I have been watching since the Fred update(s). It fits the bill of what most would suspect should be hit by Fred. (This site doesn't have much authority.) It's currently being strangled by Google. I can't really say I'm surprised.

I also oversee an ecommerce site with an established brand (~20 years old), large natural link profile that at first glance doesn't seem to be affected by the Fred updates. It seems unaffected until I segment out the blog and look only at the product section of the site. This is where I'm seeing a 13% drop in Google organic since Fred (3/9). I think Google targeted more than just affiliate sites but it is also hitting thin content on a page level.
 
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#41
You featured affiliate links in every post. You went too hard in the mufuggin paint.
I have a situation where I would like to replace my sidebar, footer and possibly in content display ads with a CPA offer (static image with an affiliate link).

Do you think this would have the potential of triggering an issue?
 

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#42
@animalstyle, no, I don't think it'll be a problem unless you're going too hard in other areas, like only doing review style posts, optimizing for info terms with review style content, etc. I think some of these issues are far more egregious than others, and the others are used to confirm algorithmically that you're crossing the line on the main issues.

The display ad part is probably the most minor issue. And as long as you have plenty of content on each page you have ads on, it should be fine. If you started talking about "in addition to" the other ads, it might go overboard unless your pages are real long.
 

Sutra

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#43
Hey @Ryuzaki can you clarify what you mean by "optimizing for info terms with review style content"?

Many of my review articles contain info that's relevant to making an informed purchase. For example, lets say the article is reviewing 4 wheel drive Jeeps. A number of people who search for that type of review would likely want to know the benefits of 4 wheel drive vs 2 wheel drive. So the article might be titled: "2016 Jeep Wrangler Review - The Real 4 Wheel Drive King?"

And within the article there would be a heading like, "4 Wheel Drive vs 2 Wheel Drive", or "Why 4 wheel drive is better than 2", or something along those lines. And that section would answer/cover the query. Thats pure info, targeting a keyword like "4 wheel drive vs 2", but it's relevant to the purchasing decision, thus; they don't have to do another google search to find that information since it's already in the article.

Is that the type of info you're saying should not be in a money page article?
 

Mahjong

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#44
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....
Sorry to point at this and being a bit off topic (sorry if it sounds rude to you), but make sure to read well what you've written, that's controversial for me and triggers a red flag when I read posts like this one.

I'm really amazed by your post, just pointing that you may step into this mistake again, the information you've given us is platinum.
 

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#45
Is that the type of info you're saying should not be in a money page article?
Not necessarily. It's impossible to know exactly what is being measured in that regard. Is it comparison tables full of "Buy Now" buttons? Is it a ton of affiliate links and certain text phrases? I'm willing to bet the title tag has a big role, but I don't think the inclusion of the word "review" is enough to confidently conclude this is what you're doing. So the algorithm would need to look at other factors that you're likely not tripping.

I just re-read what you typed though and realized we both mean the exact opposite. My paragraph above is for info content that features some sales content. You're talking about sales content that features some info content. I do exactly what you're saying you do, and it works out great.

Adding informational content to a review post to help the buyer make an informed decision is great. It's not misleading. The problem is when you optimize for a high-volume information keyword but structure the content as a review / money maker instead of an information deliverer. A little bit is fine, but Google's main goal is to make sure the pages they rank are dealing properly with the intent of the searcher.

Sorry to point at this and being a bit off topic (sorry if it sounds rude to you), but make sure to read well what you've written, that's controversial for me and triggers a red flag when I read posts like this one.

I'm really amazed by your post, just pointing that you may step into this mistake again, the information you've given us is platinum.
You're right, it's silly to make broad-sweeping and generalized statements. What I really meant was that "if you aren't doing anything too obviously silly with ads and language while you're also doing what you know you should be as a big brand, then you shouldn't encounter any on-page algo problems."

However, that's still broad and implies I can predict the future of the internet, the future of Google, and read people's minds to know what they deem to be 'silly.'

The 2nd quote is true. I've not been hit by Fred because I got caught up in it's predecessor, the misuse of the Thin Content Penalty, realized it was a purposeful misnomer to hide the first round of tests, and I corrected course. This make me either more qualified to talk about it, or less qualified. To me, being bit by one poisonous snake and studying it's effects is as good as jumping into a pit with 100 of them. Both are as qualified, but one had enough sense to realize that jumping into a pit full of snakes is probably not a good idea, especially not for the sake of being 'qualified.'

Your red flag is great to point out and I agree with it, but you didn't provide any examples of why it's a red flag. I'd like to know if you or anyone else can think of examples out there that haven't yet been acted upon by Google? What should we be avoiding that isn't already encapsulated by the obvious or by what Google is already doing? What's left that we need to keep an eye on so we aren't caught off guard in the future?
 

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#46
A potential user has been emailing in, having issues getting an account registered, but needed to understand exactly what the bullet points meant in the opening post. I'm going to explain them here for the sake of any other beginners, one at a time.

Your site had more review content than anything else.
This item is highly correlated with sites that suffered extreme traffic losses with Google. You can never prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt due to Google's algorithm being a black box, only known to them. They also use 'thresholds' of various types, meaning your site may have had too much review content but still survived because you didn't trip enough other negative thresholds or you surpassed other positive ones.

In this case, a boatload of sites that focused very heavily or exclusively on review content were penalized. This includes content that is purely commercial in intent, meaning your goal is to either sell or promote a product indirectly. These include phrases like "Best Lawnmower," "Lawnmower Reviews," "LawnMan vs. GrassEater: Which is Better?," and other variations.

Too many sites that focused only on those topics were also culprits for rewriting other content, adding nothing to the conversation, and spamming links. They were there to make money, not to help users. They simply act as middle men to push users to Amazon or any other seller.

Your site had an EMD that included "Best, Top, Reviews," etc.
If your domain was BestLawnmower.net or TopLawnmower.info, for instance, this contributed heavily towards you tripping the radar at the threshold. EMD means "Exact Match Domain" which refers to "Exact Match Keywords". A long time ago, having an EMD meant you'd get a boost for ranking for that exact match keyword, so people would buy EMD's to try to "snipe out single rankings," which led to users having 100's and 1000's of poorly created websites filling Google's results with spam.

They dealt with this in the past but it doesn't stop people from still using them. And all who use them aren't spammers or have horrible sites. But if you did use an EMD, especially with a commercial search term in it, it was highly likely you were a spammer.

Your site lacked entertainment content and educational content. You only worked at the bottom of the intent-funnel.
This is basically a rephrasing of the first point. "The bottom of the intent funnel" is related to the marketing concept of a sales funnel where you educate and entertain people to slowly move them towards a state of mind where they are willing to purchase a product. On Google, you can determine where in this "sales funnel" the user already is based on the search terms they are typing in.

Someone typing "how does a lawnmower work" is seeking information. Someone typing "funny lawnmower videos" wants to be entertained. Someone typing "best lawnmowers" is trying to make a decision on buying a lawnmower. If they type "lawnmower coupons" then they're about to purchase.

If you aren't educating and entertaining your users, you're there for only one thing: the money. And that highly correlates with crappy sites and spam links. Otherwise you'd just buy pay-per-click advertising instead of filling the search results with your spam. So it makes sense Google would act on these types of sites.

All of your content was hyper-optimized around exact match keywords instead of topics.
Google's goal is to harm those who are actively pursuing SEO (search engine optimization) at an aggressive level. Those people make websites and content for Google's robots, not for the real people that use the internet. They're often spammers. SEO is how you let Google's robots know what search terms you're trying to rank for, and is not bad in and of itself.

But if you're finding a list of search terms and hyper-optimizing around them instead of writing about generalized topics, you're likely a spammer. So the title of most of your posts might be "Which Lawnmower Blades are the Best?" instead of "Lawnmower Maintenance: The Guide to Blades, Sharpening, and Longevity" The original title isn't a problem, but if you only do that across 300 posts, it's a good sign you're an SEO trying to go overboard. Any title directly out of a keyword list is bad, especially when you use on-page SEO to emphasize that keyword over and over.

The idea is to write about the topic of lawnmower blades as a whole rather than lawnmower blades as a keyword. Google has enough data to know who is doing which. If you focus on single keywords too hard, it'll contribute to your downfall. You can focus on topics while still optimizing for keywords, but that's an advanced topic. Learn more at the link in the paragraph above.

Your Display-Ad-to-Text ratio was way out of whack.
This goes back to being overly commercial. Maybe you are writing a ton of informational and entertainment content, but you're using too many advertisements, showing that your own intent is commercial. That's a bad user experience. Nobody minds a few ads. Everyone minds so many that your browser crashes or you can't even find the real content on the page. There is no defined ratio that we know of, but we do know that going overboard will doom you. Google's own rules for Adsense used to be 3 display ads maximum per page. That's still a pretty good guideline. Too many more will hurt your page speed score as well.

Your posts were walls of text that lacked images and videos.
A good indicator that you were buying content and slapping it on a website, trying to go as fast or lazily as you can is a lack of images, videos, formatting, bullet points, etc. If your post is just paragraph after paragraph, that can be a sign that you don't care about the users. Break up walls of text by inserting other types of media and using headers, indenting, and anything else really.

You optimized around information queries and then wrote like it was a buying query post.
Maybe you had enough sense to go after information search terms but you wrote them like review posts. If someone wants to know "how to change lawnmower blades" and you tell them in one paragraph and spend the rest of the post trying to convince them to buy a specific brand of blades, you've mismatched the searcher's intent with your content's intent. You used to be able to trick Google like this, but not any more. Every search term shows results in Google that are all of the same type of intent. You need to check that out before you write your own post. It needs to match. It should be fairly obvious just from the search term itself too.

Your ratio of Affiliate-Links-to-Outbound-Links was way too high.
Same thing as above and regarding display ads. There's nothing wrong with a few. Everyone has to make money to pay for the resources of hosting and creating an on-going site. But going overboard usually means abusing users, mismatching intent, and being a spammer. Of course, a lot of affiliate links in review and commercial intent content is fine. But not in educational content, for instance.

You featured affiliate links in every post. You went too hard in the mufuggin paint.
Same as above, but you turned your entire site into a misdirection ploy. People arrive to learn or be entertained and are bombarded with advertisements and affiliate links. Having a lot of this stuff in your sidebars is okay usually, but cramming it into the body of every post is rarely appropriate.

You didn't nofollow your affiliate links.
This is very simple but very important. Google likely ignores it and handles it on the back-end for big sellers like Amazon, but for little affiliate programs, it could spell your doom. Google clearly states that you are not to sell "dofollow" links or have any links that are "incentivized" as dofollow.

Dofollow is the default state of a link on the internet. It tells Google's bots that they should not only crawl through the link, but they should consider your link a vote for the page you're linking to, meaning that you endorse it as a high quality page. But not only do you not endorse it, you're only linking to it because you stand to make money from it. So Google invented the nofollow tag as a way to say "hey, I'm linking to this page but I'm not voting for it to rank higher." This is how we can still sell sponsorships on the net and make money with advertising without breaking Google's rules about selling links (where the intent is to manipulate the Google rankings).