The Google Fred Update

Was there a Google algorithm change called “Fred”? Well, as we know, the Google algorithm is updated constantly in an always-improving kanban kind of way. Pestered on Twitter to say whether Google had updated its algorithm, Google’s Gary Illyes answered that of course the algorithm had been updated. That happens all the time.

Pestered further for a name for the update (because major changes in the algorithm get project names), Illyes said, “From now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred.”

I understand this as sarcasm.

But there are plenty of SEO writers on the web explaining the Fred update. Ready? It’s affecting websites with poor quality content and too many ads. In other words, websites that do not follow the normal Google website quality Webmaster Guidelines have been affected by the Fred update.

Webmaster Guidelines

Google has always said that it does its best to provide searchers with the best possible experience, so it prefers to show searchers the best quality page that provides the best answer for their questions.

So you should make good pages, pages of value to your readers, honest pages which provide useful information. You should avoid, Google says, using tricks to deceive either Google or your human web visitors.

Google specifically lists some tricks they don’t like:

  • Auto-generated content, and user-generated spam
  • Pages that don’t offer original content
  • Link schemes
  • Sneaky pages that hijack visitors with disingenuous redirects
  • Keyword stuffing

These things are not news. On the other hand, we see them all the time, and are often asked whether they’re okay. It’s clear that some website owners don’t recognize that they’re not okay.

Was there a Fred update?

As I said, I understand the comment from Illyes as sarcasm. But I’ve also seen the articles claiming that the Fred update has been confirmed, or at least proven by data collected by observers.

It doesn’t matter. If the Fred update attacked sites that aren’t providing valuable original content for their readers, that’s a good wake-up call for people who have been resisting the truth that high-quality original content is central to SEO success. If pushing those less-valuable websites down in search results was just business as usual… well, that should also be a good wake-up call for people who need it.

People use the internet, including search engines like Google, to find entertaining and informative web pages that they can learn from and enjoy. If your website doesn’t meet that need, it won’t perform well in search.

But it also won’t meet the needs of your visitors. It will be a waste of bandwidth any way you look at it.

Don’t wait for an update. If you need help determining whether your website is doing its job well or not, we’ll be happy to help you with an SEO strategy document. If you know you’re not producing high quality original content, we’ll be happy to write for you. You don’t have to do it on your own.

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