Last Updated on August 1, 2020
Early last month Google released a major unnamed update to their algorithm. Jokingly called “Fred” by Gary Illyes of Google, the update caused quite a stir in the SEO community, penalizing a number of websites. So, what actually happened with the Google Update March 2017, did it change your ranking?Ready to Talk?
Google haven’t officially released any information about exactly who the “Fred” update was aimed at, but initial research from Search Engine Land seemed to show that sites that were hit, were hit hard.
Their initial thoughts are that the update was specifically aiming at websites that are focused on revenue over user experience. While in theory, this should be all websites, the sites that Google was attempting to penalize were taking this too far.
Google Update March 2017
The websites most hurt were not industry leading sites, but low-end sites where the content and ads blur into one. This list of example sites from SEO Roundtable shows the type of website that was hit. Anyone who has run display ads recently will be well aware of the kind of ‘filler’ website they’re tackling. These websites, often some kind of news aggregation website only exist to generate ad hosting revenue and offer little to no value to anyone who ends up on them (and certainly offer very little to the advertisers unfortunate enough to find their ads hosted there).
That said, obviously, there has been some collateral damage with the update, so you need to check your search console and Google analytics to see if your site’s traffic has taken a hit. If you do notice some ill effects then you should take a look again at your site to try and see why Google might be penalizing it. Other updates will have also happened around the time ‘Fred’ was released, so you will need to be careful when trying to fix your figures.
The main lesson we learned here was to keep things honest. If you think the content you’re creating and the ads you’re hosting might be a bit too similar in style, they probably are. And if you think you’re going to get away with it… you probably won’t.