Google search algorithm updates codenamed ‘Fred’Written by Philip Graves and David Graves, GWS Media, April 12th 2017
There has been a especially intriguing series of Google search algorithm updates lately. Starting around March 7th-8th 2017, Google has introduced a number of changes to its search algorithms that have in some cases had a significant impact on search impressions, position data and clicks through to websites over the course of the following month.
Unlike the previous widely-publicised updates known as ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’, Google has not so far given an official name to its recent major algorithm update packages, though acknowledging that there have been multiple updates during this timeframe. Gary Illyes of Google, in a Twitter dialogue with SEO expert Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land, commented on March 9th that ‘from now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred’.
There has been much speculation about what the updates have in fact been targeting, but there is no doubt that they have caused a fair amount of changes to search positions. Some sites have lost between 50 and 90 percent of their organic search traffic according to a review and analysis by Schwartz.
Opinions are divided among the SEO analysis community; but hypotheses that have so far been put forward regarding the kinds of websites to have been targetted for penalties include:
- Sites that had previously been boosted by backlinks now regarded as being of low value
- Sites using low-quality or scraped content to generate advertising revenue or affiliate sales revenue
- Sites with an excessive number of third-party advertisements on their pages
- Sites containing ‘incomprehensible articles… void of any useful information or a sense of readability’
Further research will lead to a clearer picture emerging.
For now, our advice would be to continue to follow best practices for the production of high-quality content but be particularly careful not to overuse keywords in your text. Where good-quality, properly-written content that is not used to generate advertising revenue is added to your site and promoted appropriately, then so long as it is interesting and engaging to your target market, it should continue to benefit your visibility.