Right said Fred: has there been another unconfirmed Google ranking update?

Right said Fred: has there been another unconfirmed Google ranking update?

Last Wednesday, many advertisers noticed a shift in their pages' rankings, with many pages becoming delisted and then returning to their ‘normal’ rankings. This has led to the SEO industry theorising that another Google ranking update (which many are referring to as ‘Fred’) is in the process of being rolled out.

As Barry Schwartz has explained in his article for Search Engine Land, members of the Black Hat World, WebmasterWorld, and Google Webmaster Help forums are expressing concern over the fact that their rankings have changed. He also points out that many of the automated tracking tools are now showing significant fluctuations in rankings, and this is usually indicative of an update having taken place.

Although currently unconfirmed, as is the case with many of Google’s algorithm tweaks, the increased discussion around the update on Black Hat SEO forums suggests that it’s based around ‘spammy’ links.

This also seems likely as it follows a spam-targeting update to rankings that appears to have occurred in February. However, it’s important to note that this update also remains unconfirmed.

However, although many of us assume that this update is concerned with ‘spammy’ links, it could also be focused around low quality content. After reviewing 75 of the sites that were hit by this suspected algorithm change, Barry Shwartz also theorised that Google Fred is targeting ad heavy sites with a low quality of content.

Before we close, let’s quickly address the question that’s (no doubt) on everyone’s lips; why are people calling the update ‘Fred’? Well, as Barry Schwartz explains in an article posted on SEO Roundtable last week, this has derived from a joke from Google’s Gary Illyes that because Google make updates almost every day, they should all be named ‘Fred’ from now on (unless otherwise stated).

The TJM take: As Gary Illyes confirms, Google are constantly making updates to their algorithm, and the recently reported fluctuations in rankings have left us feeling quite certain that an update is in the midst of being rolled out. With the evidence, we also feel it’s likely that websites with low content and ‘spammy’ links will continue to be hit by it (though avoiding these issues should always be a priority).

If you’re experiencing a fluctuation in rankings, or you’re merely unsure if your website will be affected by this update, get in touch with the Traffic Jam Media team!

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