Another day, another Google algorithm update. At least that’s the message coming from Gary Illyes, who says Google makes an average of three changes to its algorithm every day.

If this is true, then some updates are far more disruptive than others and search marketers have seen some significant fluctuations over the past week. And it seems sites publishing low-quality content for the sake of pushing ads or affiliate links are in the firing line.

So what do we know about the supposed “Fred” update at this stage?


Major fluctuations going on

It’s certainly been a stressful week for some website owners, judging by some of the horror stories going around. We’ve heard of 90% losses in traffic and pages being deindexed entirely in some cases. Of course, we’ve also heard about some interesting spikes in ranking and visitor numbers for others, which is typical of any algorithm update.

So what’s going on? Well, most of the noise seems to be coming from websites that publish low-quality content with the aim of making money from ads or affiliate links. Just head over to Black Hat World to see the kind of fuss they’re making and you’ll get the picture.

Gary Illyes seems to be hinting that the whole advertising/affiliate thing is right, too:


Of course, we can’t guarantee this is content/ads related but that’s about as close to any kind of confirmation you can expect from Google these days, even if it is speculation.


What should I do if I have been affected?
Until we know for sure that this is a content related update, we can’t make any guarantees about putting things right. That said, if you’re website’s main aim is to generate money though advertising, rather than provide valuable content to your readers, then you’re always going to be at risk of future updates.
Here are the kind of things that could get you hit by this kind of update, assuming it is content/advertising related

  • Having obtrusive ads on your site
  • Forcing affiliate links into your content
  • Publishing weak content that doesn’t offer any value
  • Publishing unoriginal content users could find elsewhere
  • Publishing click bait articles
  • Having high bounce rates on your articles
  • Linking to affiliate sites Google considers low quality
  • Having a lot low-quality links pointing to your articles

While we can’t guarantee these are the factors Google is considering, these are the obvious signs that a website’s priority is ad/affiliate link revenue, rather than the content it’s publishing. So, even if we can’t guarantee this is what Google is targeting with the Fred update, these are practices that can all negatively impact your search ranking. In fact, Fred looks a lot like Google is getting more strict about some of its old pet peeves rather than targeting anything new in this update.
That’s all we can really say ay this stage but we’ll be back with more information as it emerges.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve been impacted by recent changes to Google algorithms, or don’t know how to check, contact our team today to see how you’re doing.