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Google Fred Update Targets Ad Heavy, Low Value Content Sites

     
4:39 pm on Mar 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The Google Fred Update which we first spotted rolling out early morning on March 8th seems to be fairly big. After reviewing well over 70 sites that were hit by this update, 95% of them share two things in common. The sites all seem content driven, either blog formats or other content like sites and they all are pretty heavy on their ad placement. In fact, if I dare say, it looks like many (not all but many) of them were created with the sole purpose of generating AdSense or other ad income without necessarily benefiting the user.

[seroundtable.com...]
6:48 pm on Mar 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I stink :(
8:54 pm on Mar 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A relevant post from Search Engine Roundtable of Mar 27, 2017 :

Google Fred Algorithm Confirmed & Cites Overall Quality Issues [seroundtable.com...]
9:58 pm on Mar 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I stink


Oh no you don't!

Our industry owes you a profound debt. Your tireless reporting on everything that happens in SEO is without peer.
1:50 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me
9:50 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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From @rustybrick 's quote of the Google response:

...get random people who are interested in that topic to review your site compared to other sites to kind of go through a survey to see what you can be doing better to improve the quality of your site overall...

This basically says that "user metrics" are more important than ever...
10:47 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This basically says that "user metrics" are more important than ever...


I think he's suggesting something what every site publisher should already be doing, which is to get user feedback. I always ask a group of users to go through my site and pick out what they like and don't like. Also make it easy for visitors to contact you. Interesting the feedback I get sometimes about misbehaving ads, scripts or usability improvements.

The user experience is supposedly paramount in Google's goals (read their Ten Things mission statement) and it applies directly to their algorithm. Which is why I've been saying for the past few years that this is not about keywords anymore. Matching keyword queries to keywords on a page is a na´ve approach to SEO. In fact, it's not even about ranking sites that have the most links. And it's certainly not about anchor text optimization. That's over.

It's about matching user intent, it's about understanding how today's algorithms are ranking sites and what the new ranking factors are.

Those lists of 200 ranking factors? Total B.S. 100% last generation SEO.

[edited by: martinibuster at 11:19 am (utc) on Mar 28, 2017]

11:16 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google does not care what users like. Users like low priced products but those sites are never on page one, if they show up at all or are even still around.

I have a service site and i physically meet and work with the users. They rave over the unique info and how helpful it is but google keeps it on page 2 while the first page has the typical internet drivel. By unique, i mean i did not research the info, i created it from experience helping users over 2 decades. This site was page 1 for half of googles life
11:34 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster Agree 100% .... SEO is becoming about having the best website for YOUR audience... the way it really should be. However, I am not convinced Google is already there. I think keywords and links still matter, but "user metrics" such as Time On Site, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate and especially Returning Visitors matter more than ever.

What I have perceived lately is that Google returns websites that I have visited before (and liked); even though the later search query was different... I have no proof of that, but that would fit into this pattern.
11:40 am on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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They rave over the unique info and how helpful it is...


Do they rave about it online?
12:08 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"Agree 100% .... SEO is becoming about having the best website for YOUR audience... the way it really should be. However, I am not convinced Google is already there. I think keywords and links still matter, but "user metrics" such as Time On Site, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate and especially Returning Visitors matter more than ever. "

Absolute rubbish, user metrics have NO IMPACT on rankings, test before you type assumptions.
12:09 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Also "SEO is becoming about having the best website for YOUR audience... the way it really should be"

I have always worked with that logic and have been slammed for no reason, so again you are not telling us truths.
12:23 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Slammed for no reason? So maybe you should change your name to 2K_a_month ...
Just kidding.

To answer your question: Google can know if visitors like your site. That is nothing new. All I am saying that these are more important today than ever. And if you do not want to do it for SEO reasons then do it for your visitors. Check how you can improve the site experience and optimize. Test also for other quality signals: Correct language, speed, simple navigation, etc...
12:30 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"user metrics" such as Time On Site, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate and especially Returning Visitors matter more than ever. "


I am skeptical of those metrics, too!

Google's insistence of focusing on the user has spawned an SEO myth about user metrics. Ironically, people need to back up again and focus on the user not on metrics.
12:50 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I know for a fact, because its been tested over months that metrics do nothing to ranking.

@guggi2000 Not sure why you saying 2k a month ? are you suggesting that because you are saying I don't know what I am talking about ? please clarify as it makes no sense
1:31 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster I did not say optimize the user metrics in the old bad SEO way. Make metrics improve by having a better website.

But I think this is off topic already...?
2:33 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What I have perceived lately is that Google returns websites that I have visited before (and liked); even though the later search query was different... I have no proof of that, but that would fit into this pattern.

That's Google personalization, and it's been around for a number of years. It makes a great deal of sense if the new query can be answered by a site that you like. Example: If you buy a lot of widgets from Amazon, and you do a query about thingamabobs, why shouldn't Google put a link to Amazon's thingamabob page on your SERP for "thingamabobs"?
4:03 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What optimization on user metrics can you do when you answer the question of a user with juste one page, as it should be?
In that way, I have a rebound rate of almost 100%, 1 page/session, and almost no time at all spent on the website (visits with juste one pageview can not trigger logically the GA script on the second pageview to count time).

So what I should do? Split my content, to force users to see a second page? And that way, they are exposed to more ads? This is an instant user metrics improvement.

But... wait... is it really good for user? Or for Google ? ^^
5:34 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jori
If you have reference pages that just answer questions you will not be there for much longer. Google will give the answer for your users soon. You have to think outside the box and try to give the user additional value. Make the site interactive, offer something that Google can't.
6:24 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If you have reference pages that just answer questions you will not be there for much longer. Google will give the answer for your users soon.


What's more, isn't just Google. Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex do the same thing. And why not? Facts are in the public domain, and few searchers want to bother with an extra click just to learn the capital of Belgium or the current temperature in Bangkok.

However, at least some of those searchers will click through if they want to know more about the capital of Belgium or if they need a detailed weather forecast for Bangkok. That's why search engines' "answer boxes" can be a useful source of traffic for Web publishers who provide enough substance.
11:20 pm on Mar 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My answers are from topics difficult to respond, a simple phrase is not enough.

For example : "how to build a plane". If you put everything needed to know how to build a plane in a single page, you answered the question. And user is happy.
But what I'm seeing now, is that Boeing and Airbus are trusting all the SERPs.

This is more or less my case.
11:16 am on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Do they rave about it online?


Are you suggesting that reviews make a site more appealing to g? When i look at reviews it is obvious that the majority are fake. How do they determine what reviews are real.

and what about the low priced products getting buried? Google knows their users like the lowest priced products the best but they apparently don't use that metric in the algo, or so it seems.
12:15 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jori "How to build a plane?" is a great example for a topic that MUST be read in more than one page. If you have 1 page per session for that exact query you are doing something terribly wrong. The topic is huge, could be an entire website. Is that really your query?

Some ideas:
- add a filter for the level of difficultly... "How to build an airplane" can be explained in 5 sentences to kids or in 500 books to engineers.
- add images of airplane production lines or airplane parts
- Add an interactive tool that simulates air flow under a wing
- make a great design for that page... Full screen airplane image in the background, just taking off. White bold text in title. Like a magazine...
12:30 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are you suggesting that reviews make a site more appealing to g?


Yes.
Get to work.
;)

Roger Montti
2:55 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No guggi2000, it's not my query :)

But my queries ask for about 2000 words responses. Maybe I could split some of them, and it's something I should try.

I used to merge everything to avoid precisely "thin content" : it worked very well those past years. If I split my content, am I sure of avoiding thin content filter? How to know?
3:28 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If I split my content, am I sure of avoiding thin content filter? How to know?

My rule of thumb has always been "What makes sense editorially?" or "What makes sense for the reader?", and our highest-traffic pages (in terms of organic traffic from Google) are pages that are part of multiple-page articles.

Let's say you have a long, long article about the types of balls used in sports. It could make sense to break it up into:

- Page 1: Introduction
- Page 2: Soccer balls (types, history, technology, etc.)
- Page 3: Basketballs (types, history, technology, etc.)
- Page 4: Baseballs (types, history, technology, etc.)
- Page 5: Volleyballs (types, history, technology, etc.)

Each page would be a freestanding entity, but you'd also show the search engines that they're part of a larger piece by linking them together via pagination:

<link rel="prev" href="xxxx.htm"
<link rel="next" href="yyyy.htm"

Caveat: I'm not suggesting that a 2,000-word article be turned into a 200-page slide show that's designed to rack up pageviews and maximize ad impressions at the expense of readability. I'm just saying that it can make sense to break a long work into logical chunks, thereby making the major subtopics more accessible to the reader (and making each page more focused for SEO purposes, even if that isn't your motive for using good editorial practice).
3:33 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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People who are always revamping their sites, changing their navigation, merging pages, splitting pages, adding loads of new pages, deleting loads of old pages - how can they expect to do well in google. it's ridiculous.

I've always planned my sites very carefully beforehand. I work out a structure and navigation that makes the site easy to use. I carefully decide which topics to write articles for, so that they fit together to provide full, but not overlapping, coverage of the subject. Then I write most of the articles before I even launch the site. Once the site is completely filled out, I leave it alone, except for things like checking for broken links periodically, or upgrading to html5

People who don't plan ahead, and repeatedly revamp their sites, producing something that's always changing -- it's no wonder that google's algorithm could get confused. It's ridiculous.
3:48 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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aristotle, are you talking to me? Because I'm not always revamping the content of my sites. It had always been like that (almost 10 years) : a subject is (almost) completely covered in one page. Like Wikipedia. But now, I'm wondering, what is best in 2017?

You have to evolve, or you'll slowly die. I have a good example, it's about user metrics. People tend to reduce their pageviews per session. It's slowly reducing. In 2012, I had for instance, in the exactly same article, 2 pages per session. Now, it's 1,4 pages per session. Analyzing this metric, you'll just see it's fading away slowly. What to do? I "blame" the mobile use. This is not an issue of speed, since my website is much more quicker than before.
4:19 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Jori -- Your post reminded me of all the other posts i've seen here over the years where people talk about making big changes to their sites. I've never split any articles or merged any articles, or even deleted any articles on any of my sites, and am very happy with the way they're performed in google.

From what I've seen here, people who are always making changes usually don't do well in either the short run or the long run.
4:20 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What to do? I "blame" the mobile use.


Website content must be revamped for mobile viewers. That means using elements that breaks up the wall of text. A page of text is the worst for mobile, imo. My engagement goes up when I avoid that look.

Additionally paragraphs must be shortened to nor more than three sentences, possibly with an average of 2 to 2.5 sentences.

Have you incorporated any of these adaptations?
4:44 pm on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's a good point, but difficult to implement. Short paragraphs, done, but breaking elements with images, for instance (with no point) just for this is not useful : it will make heavier pages to load. I use titles, subtitles, unoredered or oredered lists, ads when useful, blockquotes or even strong elements within text...

But, when you look at wikipedia in your mobile for a particular subject, do you quit if you see a huge block of text? Or do you prefer to look at a bit of content, and clic a link to another webpage to see more of that subject?

What I did : a summary, "avoiding links", so that the user can go directly on what matters to him. To reuse the building of a plane, he can go directly to the "build up the wings", avoiding the rest. I'm seriously thinking of doing some videos in addition of my text content. But, for the user, it's still not a good solution: if I'm searching a particular aspect of the subject, how can I find it easily in the video? It's simpler in a text...
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