What You Should Know About Google’s “Fred” Update

What You Should Know About Google’s “Fred” Update

Note: Unlike Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, the Fred update has left the SEO world with too many assumptions on what contributed to the algorithm fluctuation. Some argue that Fred is all about backlink quality while others say that thin content and ad heavy'websites are getting hit the hardest by Fred. It is too soon to say for sure, but this blog post summarizes my personal take on the algorithm change. 

Here it is, the latest Google algorithm update, and it goes by the name “Fred”

Google released a new algorithm update over this past weekend that really shook up the world of SEO. The new algorithm, which Google has unofficially and jokingly named “Fred”, caused quite a stir with webmasters as a number of sites dropped drastically in rankings. Some websites saw a whopping 90% of their keywords drop several places in SERPs. What do these adversely affected sites have in common? A low quality link profile.

Fred seems to be a link quality algorithm update, meaning it measures a website according to the other sites that are pointing back to it. A strong link profile has backlinks from sites with high domain authority, which means it’s not enough to simply get a wide swath of backlinks from spammy sites. Sites with low quality backlinks are taking a serious hit with this new algorithm.

Google SERP tracking tools were also reporting the fluctuations in radar:


It comes as no surprise that Google has neither confirmed nor denied the Fred update. Big G has already stated in the past that the company will not officially announce updates, because its algorithm is updated regularly, even daily. Google’s own Gary Illyes drove this point home with a tongue-in-cheek Tweet saying that this and all updates from now on will be named “Fred”.


Is your website affected by the latest Fred Update?

Your site may have dropped in keyword rankings if it has a spammy link profile. If you are tracking keyword performance, you may want to check whether your site’s had any fluctuations. Also, check your Google Analytics to see the organic traffic performance.

How to recover from Fred Update

As Google has not officially commented on the Fred update or hinted at the specifics of the types of links this update is looking for, it may be too soon to give you detailed tips on how to maneuver through this update and keep your rankings in good standing.

From what we've seen so far, we're please to report that our client sites have been mostly unaffected by this update, thanks to our whitehat link building team. Our team consists of some of the strongest link builders in the industry, and we’re proud of our achievements in getting great quality backlinks for client websites.

If your rankings have taken a hit from the Fred update, or you want to protect your site from future link algorithm update, keep these tips in mind:

  • Quality over quantity: The quality of backlink matters far more than the total number of links.
  • Avoid sitewide dofollow links: You may see that many sites rank with sitewide dofollow links but be very cautious about this type of link profile. It can sink anytime.
  • Relevancy adds great value to each link: Don't always stick to Moz Domain authority to analyze the value of a backlink. Check that the backlink is actually relevant to the context.
  • Go for the Gold: If everyone can claim a particular link, then probably it carries less value.
  • Anchor text diversity: Build a natural anchor text cloud which includes brand name, naked URLs, generic words and business keywords.
  • Do not use automated tools or bots to create backlinks. E.g. mass blog commenting bots.
  • Avoid link pyramids/link exchange/paid links

Meanwhile, the internet's abuzz with discussions on how to recover from the Fred update, some of which are pretty funny:


How easy would it be to block the Google algorithm updates if this were true?

Over the next few weeks, we'll see more news clarifying the impact of the Fred update, and in the meantime, we hope your site is safe from the algorithm hit. Focus on producing quality content, user experience and stick to whitehat link building. If you're already adopting these strategies, you are on the right track!

It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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Post a Comment


  • avatar

    Your posts is really helpful for me.Thanks for your wonderful post.It is really very helpful for us and I have gathered some important information from this blog. so keep sharing..

  • avatar

    […] Check your current backlinks and eliminate low-quality and spammy links. Removing bad links will help free you of potential Google penalties — see Penguin and Fred. […]

  • avatar
    Deepak Gupta 


    It seems that we are facing a bit dip in traffic too. Not sure whether it got hit by this update or not. Hoping for come back in coming days.

  • avatar
    Rakesh Kapoor 


    I’ve seen sudden dip in my site ranking. I checked my backlinks and learned that I’ve more than 3.5K backlinks to my site but referring Domains are just 38. From 1 single domain I can see about 3.2K backlinks to one single post. Please confirm will Google consider this as a Spam, shall I remove it? FYI, I didn’t update my site in last 3 to 4 months.

  • avatar

    It seems like our site benefited from the Fred update.

  • avatar

    Interesting article. I was doing about 50,000 page views per month on my site and was hit pretty hard by this change. I have a legitimate website which is served over HTTPS. I only do white hat SEO and my articles are written for human beings. I have no affiliate links nor any link cloaking. I also have no keyword stuffing either, with most articles around 1% keyword density or lower. On the topic of backlinks, I have a lot of high quality incoming backlinks as well. But as you know, as your site gains traction, so do the spambots who link to you. I am often quoted in the media and receive high quality backlinks from powerful media sites. Unfortunately, spambots scrape their content which includes my backlink, so voila, nothing I can do about that. I literally went through my Google Search Console and disavowed approximately 1000 crappy backlinks which I had absolutely no control over, many of them Chinese despite the fact my site’s in English. Bottom line is that if Google is penalising sites for rubbish backlinks that site owners cannot control, then this update is absolutely unfair.

  • avatar

    thanks for good tips, will wach out to not get spammy links 😀

  • avatar
    Manish Rajput 


    Yes sir my site going to down. Thanks for this useful that is too much useful to me. I hope i will get to my site back on the top like previous. : http://www.worldstrendingtopmost.com

  • avatar

    Thanks for the info regarding Fred update by Google. I see some rankings drop by a few spots, but nothing major. As you say, quantity over quality and relevancy are some of the keys to keep in mind. That’s what I’ve been doing for a while now as I strongly feel that’s the only way to future-proof SEO efforts.

  • avatar

    I have seem my affiliate sites with just pbn’s get hammered but client sites with some pbn’s not so bad at all.

  • avatar

    And finally, way to recover your website ranking and traffic loss is by removing ads, creating unique quality, fresh and informative content that help solve user’s problem.

  • avatar
    Sofie Pennetta 


    Seriously google? why are they making updates about link quality. This kind of update has a hole and very poor. Everyone can bomb any site with LQ links any day.

  • avatar

    I agree with you, these updates only reaches whoever tries to defraud the rankings system. I’m still small, I can take so long to get where I want to, but I’ve never been punished.
    Thanks for the clarification.

  • avatar

    Interesting. Thanks Sreelal for this update and for the tips!

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