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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...]
1:04 am on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The answer box is so harmful, even if you're the one whose site is featured. I would say at least 20% of my searches are answered in the box, which means I don't click through to the site. Something simple like 'when were widgets created' means you get your answer there and there.

My site is down 20% compared to this time last year, despite working full time on it. There comes a point where it becomes financially unsustainable, we are almost at that point now. The screws have been tightened too tight.
2:05 am on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The answer box is so harmful, even if you're the one whose site is featured.

This may be your experience, but I have trouble believing that this is the case generally. I have often seen sites ranking in third or fourth position and populating the answer box. So not only does the site take the top spot, it get two spots in the top ten.

The other issue is, if all that website is offering is the answer to a question that can be answered in an answer box, then what is the value in the site? Now, I know that this is rarely the case, most sites provide a lot more useful information above and beyond the answer. But twist things around. If all the user wanted was a simple answer, then even though they would have come to your site, there is a very high probability that they would have bounced anyways. Now if you balance the low probability of converting the user with the increased exposure of featuring in an answer box, I think the answer box may not be such a bad deal for the sites that populates it. The users that do click through to the site from the answer box then have a higher probability of converting. Fewer, but better quality users.

Now if you occupy position nine and ten, then ouch! you just been pushed off of page one.
2:56 am on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The type of things I have used the answer box for are 'how do you fix such and such'. Recently my laptop screen turned sideways (probably one of the cats walked on the keyboard), I got the answer from the answer box. But surely that is Google taking the content of the site, and they have such a strong stance on scraping themselves.

It's not such a big deal for my own site because at a guess 90% of my articles aren't short answers, but for many they are.

My main competitor gets so many Google spots. I have just done a common search in my niche, they have...

Answer box
Position 2
Position 4
Position 5
Position 6

I'm at number 8. How can you compete with a site that has 4 listings plus the answer box?

Another very common search. Same site has...
Answer box
Position 2
Position 3
Position 4
2:44 pm on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have often seen sites ranking in third or fourth position and populating the answer box. So not only does the site take the top spot, it get two spots in the top ten.

Good point. Another point that few people seem to recognize is that answer boxes are here, and they're not going away. What's more, Google isn't the only search engine using them.

Search engines evolve, just as operating systems do. (Remember when you needed to pay extra for a third-party DOS memory manager, file manager, winsock, basic text editor, etc.?) If you survive by eating bits of food from between the crocodile's teeth, you'd better have a backup plan when the crocodile buys a toothbrush.
3:16 pm on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I see big updates on rankings yesterday

  • There are a lot of serps with two results of the same domain, even three results of same domain.

  • Impressions and clicks data in Google Search Console changes the same day, April 3, an upward trend in desktop version, and downwards trend in mobile version (in my case)

Can you see the same data?
7:50 pm on Apr 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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you'd better have a backup plan when the crocodile buys a toothbrush

The backup plan is to be prepared to buy traffic and adapt your business model.

Is this thread still about Fred? If so, one more question, the title says:

"Google Fred Update Targets Ad Heavy, Low Value Content Sites " ... is it "sites" or "pages" ?
7:51 pm on Apr 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I guess there would be a Fred or Panda refresh between now and April 8th 2017...

@reseller Why do you think so, because Panda refreshes were in 1 month intervals or because you think Fred=Panda?
8:41 pm on Apr 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@guggi2000

Yes I think Fred is Panda or very similar to Panda.

I'm just guessing that Google wouldn't allow the current SERPs to stand more than a month followed by a Panda Refresh to improve the SERPs :)
12:37 am on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Ok, so my site was one that was hit hard over the past 3 months... I actually have mostly high quality posts and pages with lots of good information written for readers. However, about 50% of my posts are "low quality" posts, but this is entirely due to the fact that these posts are the shownote pages for my podcast. So there is not a lot on them, except for a link to the mp3 file, a short summary of the episode, and a few links related to it.

I cannot very well remove these without also removing my podcast from iTunes.

So will it be enough to simply noindex all of them? Will that satisfy Google?
12:54 am on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@jeremyers1 .... think of your users FIRST and g second. Also don't take "low quality" to mean "little content" as some of that is perfectly acceptable. In this case I wouldn't worry about it.
3:29 am on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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yeah, except it's hard not wonder why Google is upset at me when they cut my traffic referrals by 60%... Something needs to fixed, doesn't it?
4:20 am on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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G is making all kinds of changes and I suspect that among those are quality/content and "satisfaction". Also we live in the land of Big Brands and that is only going to get worse. More likely the competition is eating everyone's lunch across the board. Too many are reporting large drops in recent months for such generalities to NOT be happening.

Just remember, if you put your site into turmoil making change after change after change trying to "fix" g it might have the opposite effect of showing instability to the search engines.

The pie is getting smaller because there are so many new players being added every second and that's also affecting traffic.
6:53 pm on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone seen the third wave of the Fred/Panda update yet? We see changes, similar to March 7 and Feb 8... could be seasonal though.
8:19 am on Apr 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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G is making all kinds of changes and I suspect that among those are quality/content and "satisfaction". Also we live in the land of Big Brands and that is only going to get worse. More likely the competition is eating everyone's lunch across the board. Too many are reporting large drops in recent months for such generalities to NOT be happening.

Just remember, if you put your site into turmoil making change after change after change trying to "fix" g it might have the opposite effect of showing instability to the search engines.

The pie is getting smaller because there are so many new players being added every second and that's also affecting traffic.


This is so incredibly accurate.

In a copycat world what else do we realistically expect? What can we do about this? Well, very little.

I strongly believe the best resource on a query by query basis will win due to user behaviour.

I've tested this for over 15 years and it's always been the driving factor. Nothing new to see here really.
9:52 am on Apr 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That's what I am tweaking now. I know the information provided does the job, but is it easily digestible to my visitors?

I did a search today, the site in the answer box had used my content (and credited me), yet they outranked me. So Google is either massively messed up, or they laid it out better than I have.
7:14 pm on Apr 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone notice that link data disappears for some of the sites from Google Search Console ?
7:35 pm on Apr 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes @deriklogov there's a discussion about that here: [webmasterworld.com...]
5:28 pm on Apr 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As you might have noticed, I have in a previous post on this thread, expected a Fred/Panda Refresh on or before April 8th 2017.
Ok..I stand corrected :(
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