Published: 27 March 2017

Black Hat Related? 


For any of us who are involved with digital marketing, and for those who may be unaware, another Google Algorithm update took place on 7th March, one which has already been named in the industry as ‘Fred’ and for a short while afterwards it was neither confirmed nor denied by Google. However, a webmaster trends analyst at Google said at a recent industry event that the Google search leads have decided not to talk about it, in a way confirming that something has happened.

The same analyst also added that this update targets specific techniques that are well-documented within the Google webmaster guidelines.

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t go on to explain which guidelines specifically were targeted by this ‘Fred’ update.

A contributor to Search Engine Land spent time analysing 100’s of URLs from web masters who said they have been hit by this update. The vast majority of URLs shared show the same type of website; a content site, often in a blog format, (not always though) with content on various topics and looks to be written for ranking purposes, but also has ads and/or affiliate links throughout the article. The sites may not feature industry experts and seem to have content on a vast array of topics that don’t add all that much value above what other sites in the industry have already written. These sites saw 50 percent to 90 percent traffic declines from Google organic search and in turn saw a massive organic ranking drop.

In other cases there were fewer ads or no ads, but rather there is revenue generation through affiliate models, lead generation or other avenues. The review has concluded that the update targets low-value content sites aimed at revenue generation over the goal of helping their users and readers.

So what does this mean?

If the main aim of a website it to make money from ads or affiliate links and it does not provide any additional value to the end user then organic rankings and traffic will fall. Websites in this category need to audit their backlinks and remove any poor quality links. The websites will also need to seriously start to produce value added content for their end users.


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