How to Recover from a Penalty from Google’s FRED Update

Two years ago, Google rolled out its Fred update. Just like other updates in the past, the “Fred Update” came without any warning, but it was significant enough for experienced marketers and site owners to notice the substantial changes in rankings and traffic.

According to some reports, the update caused fluctuations in rankings and loss of traffic by up to 90%. Moreover, a survey ran by Search Engine Roundtable revealed that more than 44% of sites on the Internet were impacted by the Fred update in some shape or form.

Why is the Update Called Fred?

But before we dive into the subject, we should start from the top. You’re probably wondering how the update got its name, right. We’re used to animal names likeHummingbird and Panda, so Fred seems a little… bizarre, to say the least.

Basically, the name is a joke. As TechWyse reports, the name actually came from a Twitter conversation between Barry Schwartz and Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes. After Illyes confirmed the existence of the update, jokingly dubbed it “Fred” and the name stuck. Simple as that.

What Does the Update Penalize?

The next logical question, of course, is – what does this particular update penalize? In short, sites affected by “Fred” have two main aspects in common. Unsurprisingly, the first factor is content, so if your site has a lack of fresh, valuable content, you’ve probably been affected.

According to Google’s content standards, low-quality websites include some of the following:

·        Content specifically written for improving search engine rankings

·        Websites with little to no original and useful content

·        Content stuffed with irrelevant, generic keywords

·        Websites filled with hidden content

Now, the second factor is low-quality backlinks – and you’ve ever paid for backlinks, your website might’ve been penalized. This is actually not that surprising, considering how recent research revealed that quality backlinks account for roughly 30% of your page score.

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If you were affected, here are a couple of things you should do right away:

·       Assess your ads/affiliate links

First things first, if your site was affected, there’s a chance that you’ve invested too much money and gone overboard on the advertisement. While incorporating affiliate links on your website is perfectly fine, excessive use of ads can hurt your rankings. You have to make sure that the ads placed on your site don’t interfere with user experience. In the end, you should simply delete ads that don’t bring in much money, distract from your content and are likely to be deemed as “spammy.”

·       Check out your backlink profile

There is a number of tools out there that can allow you to see your link profile. One of the most widely-used ones is SEMRush, although the free version is limited when it comes to analyzing backlinks. You also have the Open Site Explorer from Moz, which will provide you some good information, allow you to see who is linking to your website and see if there are any problems.

·       Improve the content of your site

Low-quality content is a major target for this update and if your site contains any weak content, it’s definitely the time to revise it and improve your pages. You should start by determining the keywords you’ve lost traffic on. After that, match the keywords with any subpar content on your site and use these pages as your starting point. And make sure to utilize videos, infographics, and images in order to improve user engagement and keep visitors longer on your pages.

The Bottom Line

As we all know, Google is on a never-ending quest to improve the quality of the search engine results. From a consumer standpoint, this is perfectly fine. You don’t want any generic, low-quality content to waste your time when you’re doing research or shopping for a specific product.

If your site was affected, it’s just a sign that you weren’t abiding by Webmaster Guidelines, which means you need to make some drastic changes. Following the steps we listed above will enable you to get back on track and work your way back up in Google’s search results.

Needless to say, it will take some time, but eventually, you’ll get there. You just need to make sure that you’re only following the best practices from this point on to prevent any additional penalties when the new Google update eventually rolls in.

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