Hey everyone. In this post, I want to talk about the infamous Google Fred update.
Unless you live under a rock, you probably heard about it. On March 8th, 2017, Google launched an update that shook the SEO world.
I witnessed it firsthand:
Within 48 hours, my traffic dropped by about 75%! At first, I thought it was a penalty.
But after doing a little research, I noticed it was happening to a lot of marketers:
- Crazy Google Dance in The Last 24 Hours
- Google Fred Update: Big Google Algorithm Update Links Related
- New Unconfirmed Google Ranking Update ‘Fred’ Shakes The SEO World
- The Google Fred Update – What It’s Targeting And How To Fix it
That’s just a few of many articles about the update. There were also countless people reporting massive drops in the Google Webmasters Forums.
I’m not sure how many people were affected by this update. All I know is those who were affected, like myself, got hit HARD.
The question now is, can we recover?
Is Recovery Possible?At this point, we have no idea what caused the drops. Sure, we have theories, but nothing even close to conclusive.
With that said, my site hasn’t recovered (yet). It’s been almost 2 weeks since the update and things look the same.
Have I made any changes to my site? No, and I don’t recommend you do either. Here's why:
It doesn’t make sense to change things without any evidence that it’s going to help. At best, you’d be guessing.
I see people going crazy disavowing links, changing their site structure, and deleting posts.
This is a bad idea. What if the update has nothing to do with any of that stuff? In that case, you'd be hurting your site.
Here's a good rule of thumb to follow: Don't make permanent decisions based on temporary experiences.
What does this mean? Basically, it's saying that you should wait it out. Things might get better.
At a minimum, wait 20 days before changing your site. In the meantime, distract yourself with a different project.
Don't Listen to The Hype
I recently read a post on Authority Hacker about the Google Fred update.
They made an excellent point: people have created false beliefs about what happened.
Remember that humans love looking for patterns in hectic situations. It helps us feel more in control.
This explains the phenomenon of superstition (linking two unrelated events together).
Below is a video of Darren Brown showing how superstition works. Notice the people's behaviors in the video and how they mimic the behaviors of people hit by Fred:
Did you notice the similarities? The people in the video, like the marketers hit by Fred, were consistently making false connections.
They were tricked into believing that one little tweak or change would help them win. Little did they know, the process was totally random.
The reason I tell you this is because I don't want you to make false connections on your own site.
We simply don't know what Fred is all about, and any attempt to guess could put your site in a deeper hole.
So for now, the best thing you can do is WAIT.
Are Low Value, Ad Heavy Sites At Risk?
Does your site exist for the sole purpose of maximizing revenue? And not helping the user? If so, you could be at risk of getting penalized.
Here's what I mean by "low value":
- Ads Overcrowding Content: Ads aren't a bad thing. They only become a problem if they're overcrowding your content. This results in a poor user experience.
- Thin Articles: The term "thin" means different things to different people. To me, it means having content that provides little to no value for readers.
- Bad Design: If your users can't distinguish between your ads and your navigational menu, then that's a problem. This may be what the Google Fred update targeted.
Here's an example of what I mean:
The first site, ThePointsGuy.com, has a nice design, isn't loaded with ads, and doesn't feel profit-driven.
The second site, EasyDIYAndCrafts.com, is filled with tons of ads and doesn't have a logo.
Can you guess which one was penalized by Google Fred? If you said the 2nd site, you're correct.
Does this mean all sites with ads above the fold got penalized? No, in fact, many didn't.
This is why I stress the importance of not drawing false conclusions.
Unlike previous Google updates, Fred isn't showing his cards, so we're completely in the dark.
At this point, there are only two possible ways to figure out exactly what happened:
Option #1: Wait For Google to Confirm The Update And Tell Us What We Did Wrong (Unlikely)
This is extremely unlikely. The days of Google telling us what we did wrong are over. And I totally agree: it makes no sense to provide spammers with the information they need to "game the system".
Option #2: Wait For Big Data Companies Like Moz or Ahrefs to Write a Blog Post About It (Likely)
Individual marketers don't have the manpower to find patterns in this hectic update. However, big data companies like Moz or Ahrefs do. Hopefully, they'll release an update about Google Fred soon.
What Do You Think?
I'd love to hear what you guys have to say.
Where you affected by Google Fred? If so, how? And have you recovered yet?
If and when my site recovers, I'll be sure to update this article. Until then, good luck everyone!