What you need to know about the Google’s March update, Fred

Guess what? Google rolled out another update last week. This one, affectionately named Fred, appears to be a rather large one. To be fair, Google sends out updates almost every day, but most of them are minor. Fred, on the other hand, is affecting a number of larger sites.

If you check your Search Analytics in Google Search Console, you’ll see a big chunk of data missing on the 9th. That seems to be when the update was rolling out. There’s been a lot of chatter online about this one, which is helping us to narrow down the details of the update. I talked to one guy who said he’d had a massive drop on his site built on Joomla! I looked at his site and he had a lot of duplication going on, with Search Engine Friendly (SEF) and non-SEF URLs both being published.

An acquaintance of mine talked about losing traffic on his site. When I took a look the first thing I noticed were a lot of, frankly, poor backlinks on the site. When I dug deeper, though, I found a lot of tag pages indexed. If you’ve got a lot of pages, tag pages can actually make your site look emptier and less organised than it is, unless you stick with a limited number of blog topics. Otherwise, Google views your tag page as a low quality page. This gave us an idea that Fred was targeting low quality pages.

We looked at a long list of random affected sites, and after looking at the first eight, I’m convinced that’s right. Every one of these sites has quality issues: duplicate pages, duplicate titles and even low speed issues. So what does this mean to you? Fred is probably some sort of Panda update. If you’ve been affected, look for quality issues to improve your ranking, and let me know what happens.

This article originally published on stewartmedia.com.au

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.


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