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

Search Engine Optimization March 14th, 2017


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!

Post By Sreelal G Pillai (10 Posts)

Sreelal's expertise in SEO, Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization has helped a number of clients to successfully promote their business online.


Sreelal's expertise in SEO, Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization has helped a number of clients to successfully promote their business online.
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What You Should Know About Google’s “Fred” Update

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