Have you noticed an unexplained decline or increase in traffic to your website since March?
If so, Fred might be to blame.
“Fred” is the unofficial name given to the Google update that was implemented during March. This is where Google updates their search algorithm … the data they use to decide where each web page should show in the search results for specific search terms.
If you use the Google Search Console to monitor your traffic you may notice that there was no traffic – or not traffic STATS, at least – for a small time around the 8th-9th March. This is when the update was brought in and stats don’t seem to have been recorded during that time.
While Google will never say exactly what changes were made and what they’re now looking for, sharing of on-going monitoring and research can give us an idea of what sort of sites might be affected.
From what those investigating these changes are saying, it appears that sites with “shallow” content are the most affected by a drop in the search engine rankings. That is, sites that have more ads than content or where the content is not of particular value and is there to support lots of ads and/or affiliate links.
That said, it’s important to note that ads and affiliate links themselves are okay. They’re not the issue, when they’re used properly. It’s when the main focus of the site is those ads or links, rather than being able to offer genuine value to readers.
On 13th March Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted that:
“DYK there’s no inherent problem with affiliate links? The problem is when a site’s sole purpose is to be a shallow container for aff links”[NB: DYK = Did you know]
So, affiliate links and ads on a site are still okay. You just need to use them properly.
If you do include ads or affiliate links on your website, make sure that:
Other things that seem to be targeted during this update are issues such as slow page speed, duplicate content, duplicate titles and other quality factors.
There’s a good post on the FatJoe.co site – The Google Fred Update – What It’s Targeting And How To Fix It – that shows an example of two sites that are both making money by selling affiliate products or advertising. However one is offering value to readers and is a higher quality than the other.
Here are my top 10 suggestions to help your site if you think it may be one of these “shallow” sites. In fact, these suggestions are worth following regardless of whether or not you were negatively affected by this Google update.
Sure, there’s other things you can do to improve your site. But focus on those 10 points above and you’ll be off to a good start.
Remember … Google is not your enemy.
They simply want to ensure that people searching for information are provided with suggestions for the most helpful sites for their searches. So by giving people what they want you’re giving Google what they want and helping your site too.
Donna-Marie is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Author and Content Marketing Specialist. Through her business, Jacaranda Business Support Services, she has been helping other small businesses to grow since 1998, with a knack for teaching systems that allow business owners to increase profits while working less.