Surviving the Google “Fred” Update

June 07, 2017

Google recently released a tweak to their organic search algorithm to better reward sites that feature high-quality content and punish sites that provide poor content and are manipulative or coercive. Referred to as “Fred,” the Google algorithm update saw some sites experience huge drops in organic traffic, while others enjoyed significant traffic spikes.

Let’s walk through some basics on how to see if any of the recent algorithm updates impacted your site, how to fix falling traffic in the wake of Fred if you were effected, and how best to survive future Google updates. 

Check if There Was an Issue 

Before you go and make major changes to your site, first you must understand if there is a problem. If you have been employing white hat techniques regularly and consistently, and keeping an above board site, then more than likely you will be fine. But you must also confirm that your site is fine.

An easy way to check is to open Google Analytics and view a report of your recent website sessions for major spikes and drops in traffic. If you find some, see if they correlate to known algorithm updates from Google so you can pinpoint the problem.

No Problem? Not So Fast …

If you checked your website stats and found that you haven’t been penalized, that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to improve your site. Fred was the most recent step in a long line of quality updates from Google, so it is better to be proactive rather than reactionary.

For the Fred update, pages that were thin on content and ad-centric were most often penalized. Get ahead of the curve by removing any potentially harmful ads that provide a bad user experience on your site. Ads that look like download buttons, autoplay video ads that a user cannot locate, obtrusive ads in the middle of content are items that have the potential to be caught the next time around.

Ditch Your “Bad” Friends

Another major tenet of Fred was cracking down on sites with low-quality backlinks. 

A common misconception is that you want as many backlinks to your site as possible, no matter where they come from. That thinking has been wrong for a while, but it was made even more so with Fred.

Do a backlinks audit of your site to see where your links are coming from. Ideally you want links from high authority domains that want to send legitimate traffic to your site.

Links from irrelelevant pages, link networks, and generally poor authority sites can actually do more harm than good. Using Google’s Disavow Tool to “discredit” your association with these sites can actually help to increase your site rankings.

Get Back to Basics and Provide a Better UX

Have you been putting off making a responsive, mobile-friendly website? 

Well, Fred is yet another example of the importance of the mobile experience. But don’t just think about user experience, think about speed. Ideally, you want each of your pages to load within 3 seconds, but Google industry benchmarks indicate most pages take around 7.

It may seem important to have bright animated banners and every bell and whistle present on your site, but if your page never loads and causes users to bounce, then it doesn’t matter anyways. Take a long, hard look at what functionality is actually needed for your user to drive conversions versus what simply looks nice.


Fred is the latest in a long line of efforts by Google to reward sites that are providing quality content and user experiences on the web.

While Fred is just the latest “official” algorithm change, it is well known that Google tweaks its algorithm daily, meaning the best plan is a proactive one.

Blue Sky Marketing are experts in helping clients to create compelling, compliant websites that stay abreast of the latest web designs trends to delivering the best user experience and drive conversions. 

Contact us today to discuss what we can do to help your business.

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