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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...]
11:46 am on Mar 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Why did these sites rank to begin with? Are links are still the top ranking factor?
2:29 pm on Mar 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Low quality and lots of ads correlates with all kinds of quality signals...
high bounce, low conversions, low speed, ugly design, shady links, no brand recognition...

Saying its because of the ads or content is like saying that the flu comes from cold weather. Its basically panda.. bad websites get demoted.
4:30 pm on Mar 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Why did these sites rank to begin with?

There have probably been tens of thousands of similar low-value sites that never ranked high and eventually died. But a small percentage could slip through cracks in the algorithm and rank high for a while.
4:46 pm on Mar 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The more I read Barry Schwartz great post mentioned at top of this thread, the more I think that Google Fred update of Mar 8th, 2017 is a fresh version of the good old Panda Update.

So.. let's call a spade a spade. Google update of Mar 8th, 2017 is a Panda Update :)
9:34 pm on Mar 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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From now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred

- @methode
7:56 am on Mar 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just wish to mention that from what I have been reading of webmasters/SEOs feedback it seems the current Google Algorithm Update of Mar 8th 2017 is hitting websites with low quality content, duplicate content issues, too many affiliate links and lots of ads.
4:16 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I believe Barry is wrong.

We're seeing poor link profile sites, especial ecomm sites being hit. But it appears to have been dialed back over the last few days.

But yes, if you're doing anything with PBN's and expired domains....GOOD LUCK!
4:52 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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At least one of the sites that Barry listed as a loser was, in fact, a gainer after both "Fred" and "Phantom." (I'd take SER's "public sources" with a grain of salt.)

Mind you, the site is "content-driven," but it runs considerably fewer ads than most content sites do.
7:18 pm on Mar 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thanks EG
4:19 pm on Mar 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@rustybrick

I think you have done a great job in reviewing 70+ websites which have been affected by Mar 8th 2017 Google Algorithm Update, and wish to thank you for sharing the results of your work. Much appreciated.

I have been for years a big fan of Search Engine Roundtable. Keep up the great work and God bless.
11:18 am on Mar 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One of my sites was hit by Fred Google update. From a recent article on (https://www.seroundtable.com/google-fred-update-ad-heavy-low-value-23538.html), Barry Schwartz, published that, sites with lots of advertisements and too much promotional contents were penalized. But, my site has only 20% affiliate review contents rest of the articles are resource content(actually helps people). And was not so ad heavy. I am not getting what actually happened. I am finding my site is still ranking on many competitive buying keywords. But I am watching a around 60% drop in impressions.

Can you please suggest me what happened and how can I overcome? Thanks in advance.

[edited by: goodroi at 1:00 pm (utc) on Mar 19, 2017]
[edit reason] Spliced threads together [/edit]

12:13 am on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller, thank you so much

@shuvoimtiaz by ads, I didn't just mean simple display ads. I meant affiliates, lead generation and more.
9:30 am on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I donīt think that ads are the only factor that have been taken in account. We see site that lost traffic, free of ads, just plain content sites. This site are in most cases haevy niche sites. Just around one topic. This site lost. They have been replaced with low content generic sites. Site that have nothing in common with the topic but just have a small article about it or just selling this widget besides.
It seems like this update killed the topic -> site binding. This plays into the hands of big resellers and price compare engines.
With updates like this google is slowly killing niche sites. Important niche sites! If only big players are left, do you realy think they see the need to put much effort into information, description or explanation? ( amazon doesnīt and others will follow ).
8:07 pm on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Martin, I have one such site, but it lost 30% of its traffic around September - October 2016. It's an established niche site with decent traffic and it lost its main keyword positions to some click bait titled (Top 10 incredible things about stuff, you won't believe #4!) articles from more mainstream publications, known for this type of content. Now my traffic is at a 5 year low. I find it disappointing that a web site that fully focus on one topic for a long time would be displaced like that by an article written in one afternoon.
8:18 pm on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I will back your statement @martin ice
Yes, it not only the advertisement or affiliate or anything else because the site I just started woking on had nothing more like ads affiliates bunch of backlinks, but despite all that, my site ranking got a noticeable fluctuation. New site, few backlinks, no blackhat but all the keywords spots got shaky.
8:25 pm on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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so koan are you sure this is the content that is causing this displacement of keywords spot?
9:43 pm on Mar 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Assuming that Google Algorithm Update of Mar 8th 2017 is either a Panda or Panda related. As such there is a possibility in future of a Panda Refresh where affected websites (which their content has been improved after they being hit to meet Panda quality requirements) would recover totally or partially. Lets hope so :)
8:40 am on Mar 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller, i do think that this was a panda refresh, too. I do think thtat panda is running real time as penguin does not.
The big question is, how to improve content when you allready reach the top level of information? google panda seems to reward big brands with manufacturer description. Plain copy but effective.

Then, this was one of the biggest shake ups i have seen with google and it wasnīt for good though. Why are they making such a mystery about it? ( -> panda not real time ? )

When i look at g* traffic after this refresh all that is left is bad traffic. good traffic with user engagement has totaly turned of. It is like they cut out none-zombi traffic.
If quality was a point for this refresh, it should have been the other way. Zombie traffic should have cut out and good traffic should have been remained.
10:08 am on Mar 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I also think that part of Fred was a panda update. It's well known that seroundtable.com was hit before by panda and recovered, but nothing was changed on site for the recovery.
seroundtable looks to have been hit again in this round of fred updates (according to semrush and ahrefs) and lost 50% of search visibility which i think looks like another panda hit to me.
10:59 am on Mar 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is poor information ported over from seoroundtable. I was hit on this date and had no ads or bad content. This thread is FAKE NEWS
5:03 pm on Mar 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Martin Ice Web
@spunkle

Thank you for your very informative posts. Much appreciated.

So it seems that Google Algorithm changes that webmasters and SEOs have been monitoring since Mar 8th 2017, become much easier to explain once we think in terms of Panda Updates. Its also becoming more and more clear that "Update Fred" is just another nickname for Panda :)

Honestly and with all due respect we shouldn't pay much attention to the useless comments posted on twitter by few Google search quality team members in relation to Algorithm Updates which the webmasters/SEOs communities have monitored, registered and discussed. Just don't waste your time on that junk :)
7:16 pm on Mar 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thanks... This is the first knowledge about fred. Will it changes on the future? For now, its about poor content but too many ads.
8:42 am on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@reseller, there is one big change now to panda. It doesnīt count for big brands though.
Take a look at current serps and you will see only big brands in top 10 - in my niche.
All smaller ecoms are gone.
I took a deeper look at the sites in top 10.
-fast loading pages - No
-No ads over the fold - No
-compact hmtl - No ( take a look at amzon pages ! )
Link power overrides all quality factors that google might look for.
This has been to all panda updates in the last. It alleways pushed big brands.

But wait! You still have a chance to do something! BUY ADS.
9:47 am on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Everyone here is asking about Google's latest Fred update, I am also one of the victims. Some said that update has targeted the bad backlinks, Ads rich content, affiliate content etc, but I have started a website with no bad backlinks, no ad banner or affiliate program was running on our site, even no heavy SEO was applied, then why we get stung by this update.

I need an expert opinion and most importantly how to fix it, seeking for the remedy desperately as my keywords lost its position long way down.

[edited by: goodroi at 12:02 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2017]
[edit reason] Splicing together same topic, different threads [/edit]

4:41 pm on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Martin Ice Web
@reseller, there is one big change now to panda. It doesnīt count for big brands though.

You might be right. Otherwise Google Algorithm Update of Mar 8th 2017 mostly looks like any other Panda update. Of course we shouldn't be surprised if Google engineers have subjected the good old Panda to some research & development work :)
8:38 pm on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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From now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred
Like George Forman's sons...
8:46 pm on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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i thought panda was supposed to be part of the everyday algo now.
i didn't think they ran it periodically anymore -- it just runs every day, like everything else.
9:07 pm on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Some said that update has targeted the bad backlinks

A change in how links were weighted or credited could have a big impact, even on sites without toxic or "bad" backlinks, (To put it another way, drops in rankings aren't always punishment.)
10:23 pm on Mar 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@londrum
i thought panda was supposed to be part of the everyday algo now.
i didn't think they ran it periodically anymore -- it just runs every day, like everything else.

It could be that it was Google Search Quality Team intention to have Panda and Penguin to run in Real-Time as part of Google Core Algorithm. However I don't think that the team has succeeded to achieve that. I think that both Panda and Penguin are still rolling out as they use to do. I.e business as usual :)
That also might explain why Google Search Quality Team wouldn't confirm the recent algorithm updates which the webmasters/SEOs communities have noticed,and discussed thoroughly. Therefore we shouldn't expect Google Search Quality Team to confirm the recent Panda update of Mar 8th 2017:)
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