The f/stop: This Week in Digital Marketing

website optimizationWhat the Fred?

A new Google update on March 7th, simply being referred to as “Fred,” is targeting low-value content sites that put revenue above helping their users. These sites are content specific, often in a blog format, and provides content on various topics.

Most of this content looks to be written for ranking purposes with ads and affiliate links sprinkled throughout the piece. They are not industry expert sites, and not adding much value above what other sites in the industry have written. All sites saw a 50% to 90% traffic decline from Google organic search.

In some cases, the content is focused on ads and are hard to differentiate from the content. In other cases, there is revenue generation through affiliate models, lead generation, or other avenues.

Gary Illyes states Google search leads have decided not to talk about the Fred update. Illyes also adds that this update targets specific techniques that are well-documented within the Google webmaster guidelines.

Sistrix, an SEO toolset data collection company, performed their own analysis:

“…advertisement, outdated, thin and scraped content, as well as incomprehensible articles made up of 300 word ‘SEO texts’ pumped to the brim with main keyword mentions and void of any useful information or a sense of readability.”

Juan Gonzalez from Sistrix: “Nearly all losers were very advertisement heavy, especially banner ads, many of which were AdSense campaigns … Another thing that we often noticed was that those sites offered little or poor quality content, which had no value for the reader.”

Let’s look at freewarefiles.com ranking distribution before Fred update:

seo updates

And after Fred update:

seo updates

Is the Dawn of Mobile-First Index Here?

Not quite. Since 2015, Google has made it clear that more than 50% of all searches are done through a mobile device. As a result, Google aims to create a separate mobile-first index along with that trend.

What’s the status of the mobile-first index? Gary Illyes of Google said at SMX West 2017 they are still experimenting.

“We don’t have a timeline.  It could be a few months or quarters, but it’s definitely not weeks [away]”

The goal is still to launch the index in 2017.

They have been faced with many on-page challenges with making the switch.  Naturally, mobile and desktop versions of the sites are very different from one another and they want to maintain high-quality search results.

It’s important to note that while there is no definitive timetable for the mobile-first index launch, it is incredibly important that the mobile experience of a website is providing an optimal performance for website users.  This will help the website when the mobile-first index switches.

For more on Google’s mobile algorithm updates and how they impact rankings, download your FREE copy of The Mobile Ultimatum whitepaper today.

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