In early March 2017, Google unleashed yet another algorithm update, which is being referred to as ‘Fred’ by industry search experts. According to G-Squared Interactive, some sites lost 50-60 per cent of their Google organic traffic in the immediate aftermath of the rollout, while others enjoyed an unexpected spike.
As you can imagine, this has caused a fair bit of controversy, with several webmasters unhappy that Google gave no indication of a change until its official confirmation. However, this is simply the latest in a long line of algorithm updates, which continue to keep the world of SEO on its toes.
With this in mind, here are a few tips and tricks on how to overcome ‘Fred’ and some of Google’s other recent algorithm updates.
Monitor your traffic
Even if you monitor your website traffic on a regular basis, it makes sense to correlate this with Google’s algorithm updates. For example, you could find that when Panda, Penguin, or any other update was released, your website suffered a drop in visitor numbers.
So, open up Google Analytics or your rank tracking software of choice to see when any major spikes or slumps have occurred. See whether there is a relationship with Google’s algorithm timeline and if so, find out what specific changes were made. You can then correct any on-site issues that received a penalty.
Remove ad-centred and affiliate-heavy pages
Seeing as the majority of the sites that Fred targeted were ad-centred and affiliate-heavy, it goes without saying this was a quality control algorithm update. In fact, many websites claimed an immediate improvement in traffic after removing some or all of the ads from their content.
Therefore, you should seriously consider getting rid of anything that disrupts the user’s experience, such as deceptive ‘download ad’ buttons or autoplaying video ads. Even if Fred didn’t catch you this time, chances are Google will penalise you when the next update rolls out.
Increase content quality and quantity
Along with targeting pages that are ad-centred and affiliate-heavy, Fred is also going after content-sparse sites. As you’re no doubt already aware, Google is increasingly prioritising quality, which equates to well-written content that goes into in-depth detail and fully answers relevant queries.
To help out, try downloading a website auditing tool that can identify low-quality content. Key metrics including bounce rate and session duration as well as the page’s word count can often provide revealing insights.
Remove harmful links
Despite the fact that high quality backlinks from noteworthy sites can deliver a significant boost to your search engine ranking, low quality backlinks often result in a manual penalty from Google. For this reason, you should use link auditing software to scan for bad links and either request to have them removed or visit Google’s Disavow Tool.
Some users have even reported that since the Fred update, social bookmarking services are causing a drop in search rankings. To avoid this issue, check and check again the quality of the links that your service provider is giving you.
Find out more about Search Engine Optimisation here.