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Google Gary Illyes Names Latest Algo Change: Fred Update

     
5:22 pm on Mar 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Reported on SER:
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-fred-algorithm-update-23529.html [seroundtable.com]

First, this update does seem to be to be link quality related and not content quality related - but it is still very early to make such a judgement call. Second, Google has still not confirmed or denied the update. But Gary Illyes from Google did say they are constantly updating and I asked him to name the update and he said he will name all ongoing updates as Fred unless stated otherwise.
6:55 pm on Mar 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The last few weeks it has felt like the everflux has become a bit more turbulent. The serp monitoring tools have reported several possible algo updates. We know that Google is constantly tweaking the algo every single day. Google also has a sneaky history of adjusting multiple algo dials at once to make it harder for SEOs to reverse engineer the changes. Even if Google wasn't making any changes, we still have our competition working every day to alter those rankings. Might be best for us not to rush to conclusions or make assumptions.

Remember it is called everflux because Google is constantly changing. Sometimes a really big change that deserves its own name & other times not as big unless it impacts your site and then its a huge change :)
6:58 pm on Mar 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What's next ... Wilma, Barney and Betty?
7:02 pm on Mar 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So what we've been seeing for the past month was about links. The chatter about links being an issue grew so large and loud that it could no longer be ignored.

The SEO Industry named it Phantom V and ascribed Panda related symptoms. But it was indeed link related all along as I was suggesting.

Let's see how fast the SEO Industry pivots to agree now that Google has confirmed what the unofficial chatter was seeing all along.
7:12 pm on Mar 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Awesome! Fred is the name of a former goldfish of mine as well. Out of respect for him and his epic life (more of a Foo post), I have named several beta projects Fred and one in production continues to bear his name.
9:56 am on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So martinibuster, you where right.
[webmasterworld.com...]
I have always been listing to you, because you have been giving me alway a lot of valuable information!
11:52 am on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It would be very interesting if people who got hit by 'fred' would post the type (affiliate, e-comm, blog, etc) and category (sports, news, adult, etc) of their web site.
12:41 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@rustybrick

[webmasterworld.com...]
4:56 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There seems to be some confusion. The majority seem to think that two different major updates have occurred as follows:

Feb 7-8: Phantom update
Mar 7-8: Fred update.

Big updates usually produce most of their effect on the first day or two, and then quickly subside.

But in reading this thread, at least one or two posters seem to be saying that it's all part of the SAME update, spread over a month or more.

My sites haven't been affected by either one, but I've been reading the threads here. And am wondering why someone would think that it's all one update instead of two separate updates. Maybe someone who holds that opinion can explain why.
9:06 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The majority seem to think that two different major updates have occurred...


Not two major updates. Three major updates.

There was a link related update reported on February 3rd.
http://searchengineland.com/unconfirmed-google-algorithm-update-may-better-discounting-links-spam-268637 [searchengineland.com]

It's not unusual for an update to have an initial release, followed by more widespread changes to rankings followed by subsequent tweaking to get it right. And at the end of it all, after the dust seemingly settled, then they walk it back a little to fix the inevitable false positives aka collateral damage.

Another point to consider:
After each supposedly different event, publishers across a wide range of forums brought up the issue of links being a factor.

This is all a matter of conjecture. All I'm doing is presenting the facts and asking what do you think? I know what I think.

Is it reasonable to believe that Google performed three separate updates during the course of a single month?

[edited by: martinibuster at 9:33 pm (utc) on Mar 10, 2017]

9:21 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Let's be careful not to jump to assumptions. Google is most definitely capable of 3 big updates in a single month. They did 3 big updates all within September 2016. Google is making changes every single day and yes sometimes they can make many big changes in a single month so anything is possible.
9:34 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Reminds me of the good ol' Google Dance & Sandbox. But then, this is not 200X - or is it?

.
9:46 pm on Mar 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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September was a busy month. Apples to Apples? Or Apples to Oranges?
There is local search, an unknown algo shift and Penguin, plus the image/universal update. The unknown update could have been an initial release of Penguin and not a separate algo in addition to Penguin. It could be a related shift and not an algo update at all. But it's not unreasonable to assume it could have been Penguin related.

Judge for yourself:

September 1, 2016
Possum, a local search update:
http://searchengineland.com/big-google-search-update-happening-chatter-thinks-258142 [searchengineland.com]

September 2, 2016
MysteryCore Algo Update
http://searchengineland.com/big-google-search-update-happening-chatter-thinks-258142 [searchengineland.com]

September 13, 2016
Moz reports an "Image/Universal Drop" update
[moz.com...]

September 23, 2016
Penguin 4.0 Real-time
http://searchengineland.com/google-updates-penguin-says-now-real-time-part-core-algorithm-259302 [searchengineland.com]
2:27 am on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Fred is the name of a former goldfish of mine as well.

You think you've got problems? Fred is the name of my son, so my immediate reaction was “Google? I thought he was working for Zenefits” :(

Google is most definitely capable of 3 big updates in a single month.

Fine, so long as each change applies to a different aspect of the algorithm. (Confusing, sure--but that's our problem, not theirs.) If they were to change the same thing three times in a month, it would look iffy.
8:36 am on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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FRED?

I don't know about other countries, but in Australia in the 1970's pre PC, Apple days FRED was an acronym applied to main fame computers by non-users.

F..... Ridiculous Electronic Device

Sorry Mods.
2:11 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What's next ... Wilma, Barney and Betty?

I still fear Freddy.

Known aliases: The Springwood Slasher
Status: Deceased.

So very Kruegerly of them, ah?
4:03 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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But Gary Illyes from Google did say they are constantly updating and I asked him to name the update and he said he will name all ongoing updates as Fred unless stated otherwise.


With all due respect, that was the most ridiculous general statement made to give a name to several algorithm updates without indicating what those updates are all about. Thank you Mr. Gary Illyes, for your generous informative helpful contributions, much appreciiated :)
5:42 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Gary Illyes' Fred comment was a facetious remark, essentially to tell the SEO community to stop worrying about what the name of an Algo update was going to be.
He never even confirmed, tacitly or otherwise that there was an update or that it had a name.

Personally I agree with his position, this obsession with naming and trying to decode these frequent updates is a pointless endeavor. So far as I can tell there have been significant ranking shift ongoing since at least last September at a rate of at least once a month, sometimes more. Some have positive impacts, some negative and other not at all. Are each of these unique updates to algo? Refreshes, like for "real-time" Panda Penguin? New features added? Who knows, who cares. Obviously if you have been impacted, you need to take action but this action should be an introspection, on determining how things can be improved. It is pointless to worry about your competitors spammy tactics are being impacted by some algo you know nothing about.

Google's goal with these updates is to cause confusion and uncertainty as to the nature of the updates. This is in order to make it impossible to game the system. You may not like this but I assure you it is a much better outcome than Google providing hints that would allow some to engage in tactics that can successfully game the system.

Remember, this is a zero sum game. Losing your top ranking doesn't necessarily mean that you have been penalized or done anything wrong, it could well be that there are competitors that are doing things better than you. Conversely, gaining ranking doesn't mean that your latest link building tactics are finally working, it could simply be that your competitors spam offensive has finally been demoted.
6:46 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Remember, this is a zero sum game.

Er, sorry, I thought it bears repeating. Every time someone drops 1 or 2 or 10 places, the question is always “What did I do wrong?” (or, better, “Why is G### mad at me?”) when the question is equally legitimately “What did someone else do right?”

:: hasty edit as I remember that 1 is the smallest, not the biggest size ::
7:00 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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He never even confirmed, tacitly or otherwise that there was an update or that it had a name.


Is he doing that to hide what they're up to? Or is he (and Mueller) telling the truth, this isn't really an update but just a tweak in the algo?

My feeling about it is that how the SEO Industry believes the search engines work and how the search engines actually work sometimes differ.

I don't believe that thinking in terms of "updates" is an accurate representation of how search engine algorithms actually function and that the concept of "updates" might introduce a confusion of what is really going on.
7:55 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lucy24 People also need to remember with this zero sum game that organic rankings are only part of the game. You can keep ranking #1 and still lose traffic. You can lose traffic if PPC ads push you below the fold. You can lose traffic if Google shows an answer box. You can lose traffic if any of the universal results gets triggered like video, news, local 8 box or shopping results.

Google doesn't need to change the algorithm and can still dramatically impact traffic.
8:26 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Tweaks to personalization could affect your traffic, too.
9:31 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Fred update,

Nobody is gaming the system, the serps are being taken over by high street stores, what they are gaiming are maybe some bots, converting traffic goes to the chosen ones.
9:58 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@goodroi the other factor is that you traffic is likely not coming from a single straight forward keyword like "Buy Widget" it comes from a basket of key words. So tracking rankings from one or only a few keywords can also be misleading. Then add to that that same keywords may provide different types of users, like buyers vs tire kickers.
10:25 pm on Mar 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So tracking rankings from one or only a few keywords can also be misleading.

:: hasty detour to GSC to confirm that they still have the “Pages” option, which can be dramatically different from the default “Queries” graph ::
2:33 am on Mar 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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gary illyes' statement reminds me of melissa mccarthy's impression:
now let me wave something shiny in front of you monkeys
6:20 pm on Mar 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS: Remember, this is a zero sum game.


This is completely incorrect.

Ask 10,000 businesses that Google destroyed and that are out of business or no longer care to check whether their website is alive or not.

Mathematically speaking.
If you claim to update 0.5% of all queries.
After you've done 200 updates, you've affected pretty much 100% of all queries.

Granted, some updates are such that completely destroy sites, some are just teasers. But dead sites don't come back.
So it' is NOT a zero sum game.

How many years are now since Panda and Penguin? And since some Google-millionair-on-stock-options made a decision to put negative weights on links, while still claiming "external factors can't affect your site"? That got pulled pretty fast. 10,000 dead businesses would like a word with him.
7:27 pm on Mar 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@smilie you should lookup the meaning of Zero Sum Game, this is exactly that. Even if one or many sites disappear, that just means more users for those that remain. Although the sites that are disappearing, are doing so since they already have no users, so the point is somewhat moot as the existence, or lack there of, of these players doesn't really figure into the equation by that point.

Mathematically speaking.
If you claim to update 0.5% of all queries.
After you've done 200 updates, you've affected pretty much 100% of all queries.

That would be true if each update could only impact each query once. But that is not the case. In principle, each update is like a new draw at the lottery, probabilities are reset and the likelihood of drawing any given number is equal to any other number (first ball only). I say in principle because, spammy terms such payday loans or viagra are more likely to be impacted by algo changes the less spammy terms (I am speculating here).
8:46 pm on Mar 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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After you've done 200 updates, you've affected pretty much 100% of all queries.

:: business with calculator ::

99.5% ^ 200 = about .37, so a bit under 2/3 of sites. 1000 updates and you're passing the 99% mark. But that's assuming true randomness, which would be a pretty pointless assumption. It's neither a fresh group of sites each time, nor a randomly selected group; it's mostly the same sites. Or, sadly, sites that look like the bad guys--but that's an issue with the quality of any one update, not with the fact of updates existing.

Hm. Now, if someone had plausible figures on what proportion of sites are undeservedly hurt by the average update, then you'd get something interesting.
10:23 pm on Mar 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's a zero sum game, if you consider the entire ecosystem. I've seen enough of these updates to notice that google can kill traffic to ALL the downstream sites if it wants.
Updates in 2016 Feb to April confirmed that.
What was the intention behind killing the side ads and increasing the ads on top?
That was to reduce organic traffic.
What was the intention of doing mostly useless snippets at the top? Perhaps there's a noble intention there, but it also hugely adds to the bottomline.
The unfortunate reality is that after accounting for user growth, organic traffic in aggregate has only one way to and that is DOWN.
The real question becomes- if SEO is the cornerstone of your business strategy, you better come armed with plan B.
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