Around March 2017, there were a buzz that Google is coming up with an update that will shake up the ranking algorithm. After a lot of uncertainty and confusion, Gary Illyes finally made an official announcement on March 24th that the new update Google FRED will be deploying websites that were using Black-Hat SEO tactics to rank their websites.

What is Google FRED?

In layman language, Google FRED is an updated algorithm that checks the quality of a website. FRED aims to eliminate aggressive monetization such as unnecessary ad placements and poor content that provides little or no value to users’ knowledge.

According to the industry’s leading SEO expert, Barry Schwartz not all websites that were affected by the new update were dummy sites but majority of them were content websites that had oversaturation of ads. “They are seem to be built purely for generating revenues and not for providing knowledge to the users” he said.

Schwartz also confirmed that site owners saw subsequently more traffic after the removal of immoderate advertisements which reinforced the connection between unpleasant ad practices and traffic penalties

Why was FRED formulated?

Unsurprisingly, Google did not reveal the real motive behind formulating FRED. However, SEO experts around the world believe that the focus of the updated algorithm is to penalize the websites that were prioritizing monetization over the user experience and questionably useful content.

Why was the update called “FRED”?

On  9th March, Barry Schwartz tweeted Gary Illyes asking about the name of the updated algorithm. To which Gary replied

Explaining why Garry named the update “FRED”, Ryan Jones tweeted,

In the beginning, the name was mere a joke. But then it took off and this is how Google FRED got its name.

What kind of websites were Hit hard by Google FRED?

Many SEOs tried to find a pattern among the sites which were hit hard by Google FRED update. These sites had:

  1. Presence of too many ads: the biggest similarity was placement of ads in every possible corner of sites for the sake of only generating revenue.
  2. Low-quality blogs: the blogs were thin and added no value to the users’ solution
  3. Usage of too many affiliate links throughout the blog
  4. Too many call to action buttons
  5. Poor Backlinks: SEOs believe that poor-quality backlinks were also targeted by Google FRED. This included backlinks from low domain authority domains, broken and outdated links.
  6. UX barriers
  7. Unresponsive pages
  8. Websites that are not compatible for smartphones, tablets

How to know if your website is affected by Google FRED?

If you saw a huge drop in the ranking of your website since March 2017, and you are guilty of any of the above mentioned mistakes, your website is probably impacted by the update.

How to overcome the ranking drop and be prepared for future Google updates?

If your site has too many ad placements, low-quality content, poor backlinking or a blend of all three, you must have experienced disruption in your sites’ ranking. Since Google FRED focuses on overall quality of the site, you should minimizing the technical errors and ads, fixing UX problems and publish high quality content.

Conduct an overall site audit:

Understanding the factors that have or might put you at risk of penalizing is a great way of preparing yourself for the future updates of Google. Therefore, it is mandatory to conducting an overall, compressive audit of your website. This includes:

  • Link-Profile Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Social-media Analysis
  • Website architecture
  • Content Strategy
  • Keyword research
  • Google analytics
  • Semantic markup
  • Duplicate content
  • Website accessibility
  • Site crawling quotient
  • SEO Technical audit

Take a look at your Link profile:

Clearing your link profile is one of the best ways to get prepared for all the future Google updates. Evaluate your websites’ link profile with the help of Moz’s open site explorer. The tool will tell you which links are strong and which of them are toxic and should be eliminated.

Eliminating the broken, outdated links protects you from getting penalized. This will make your website user-friendly which is always a good thing in Googles’ eyes.

Say no-no to oversaturation of ads:

Being welcomed by ad banners all over the page is annoying. Also, this tells Google that the page is more concerned about generating revenue than providing solutions to the users’ problem.

Ads are also is unappealing to the potential customers which hampers your conversation rates. Oversaturation of ads is not only an obstruction in your sales but also a threat to all future Google updates.

What else can you do to Improve Your Google Ranking and SERP?

Apart from providing quality content, we recommend:

  1. Following Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines as closely as possible
  2. Removing unnecessary ads that do not contribute any help to the user
  3. Remember to create a content for the users and not for Google ranking. Therefore, keep it well presented and informative.
  4. Make the site user-friendly and mobile compatible

How much time will it take to overcome the ranking drop?

You might not notice a sudden boost in your site ranking immediately even after fixing the problems. However, the next Google update can boost your sites’ ranking. After every Google update, you should always focus on long-term rank recovery by providing top-notch quality content that helps the user.

What are the best Google FRED update SEO tactics?

According to every SEO expert ever lived, “Content is the King”. To formulate the saying into a strategy, we recommend memorizing the Google Quality Rating Guidelines and follow them throughout the content of your website:

  1. There should be a clear indication of whom the site belongs
  2. They should also be a clear indication of what the site is about
  3. Each page of your website should be updated, and loads quickly
  4. There should be minimum technical errors
  5. Your site must have excellent website reputation. That means it should have quality and relevant backlinks, positive user feedbacks and expert testimonials. These all contribute to a great online reputation.