Ranking the New Google Ranking
Sometime last month, a mysterious and unconfirmed new updated was dropped on the Google ranking system, and since then it’s had a massive effect on how the Google algorithm calculates the quality of your links. With everyone scrambling to figure out what exactly this update is, few people have yet concocted exactly how to deal with it, and that’s why we’re releasing this guide.
The name Fred comes from Google’s own Gary Illyes, who jokingly tweeted that every new update should be called Fred. Much as the internet tends to do, the joke stuck, and this update is now known as Fred.
So you’re probably thinking: “Google releases dozens of updates per month, why was this one specifically noticed and how?”
Well, the news actually came about from the black hat SEO community, which engages in practices such as link farming, and pbn’s. They started to notice a decrease in website traffic, meaning that this new update was actually meant to curb spam and spam related websites, and Google tends not to announce those. Immediately after the news spread around the black hats, the rest of the SEO community started to see changes as well, with many webmasters seeing ranking declines, while others saw ranking increases. With Google refusing to acknowledge anything specific, this updates has sparked mass hysteria, with webmasters and website owners having no clue of how to proceed.
But the friendly nature of the SEO community means that people are willing to work together and pool their discoveries, and through vigorous testing and analysis, they’ve constructed a broad idea of what this update means, and how to deal with it. Let’s take a look at what you can do to deal with the new Fred update, and what it targets.
The info actually came from the SEO guru Barry Schwartz, who discovered that based on the types of sites affected, the updates seems to be targeting sites that are heavy on advertising and low on actual quality content, a shift that Google has strongly supported in the past. This signals a commitment to quality content, rather than sites meant to act only as links or deliver ads.
These sites have very identifying characteristics, and are built with one purpose in mind: To generate as much web traffic as possible in the hopes of a user clicking on an ad or an affiliate link. This means that the focus isn’t on the user, on delivering them quality content and useful information, but rather on generating revenue. These sites are pretty easy to identify. The content will usually be chock full of keywords, and it will be surrounded with advertisements and loaded with links. There might even be a link in every other sentence! The content will usually be simple and text based, because it’s cheapest and easiest to produce, and more often than not, it won’t actually answer any question, instead just speaking in circles (and poorly written ones, at that).
The problem is certainly not having affiliate links. That’s absolutely fine, as long as the content is useful to the user. If it isn’t, then why does the user even need to see it?
As an example of a website that is heavy on affiliate links, yet is able to provide useful content, Gary provides thepointsguy.com, shown below.
We’re not going to feature an ad heavy website, poor content website because everyone’s seen them. All those clickbait ads live off of that formula, and it’s not necessary to bring that clutter here.
So without further ado, here’s our guide on how to turn your low value affiliate website into something that can withstand the Fred update, and that can deliver use to your users.
- Design: This is the biggest thing for an appealing website, because if it doesn’t look nice, no one will visit it. That means minimal text on the main page, and it should be built with the user in mind. Make it navigable, and nice to look at.
- Ad Ratio: It’s fine to have ads on your webpage, but only up to a certain point. If every other block of space is filled by an ad, the user becomes overwhelmed. A good rule is roughly one to two ads per site page, because anything more makes it look like spam.
- Content: Content is king, and that can’t be stressed enough. If your content doesn’t answer some specific search query, ort doesn’t deliver knowledge to your user that they won’t get elsewhere, what’s the point of having it? Also, don’t only focus on written content. In our day and age, users want to see photos, videos, infographics, and all other sorts of visual media. Don’t forget that written content isn’t the only way to get your point across.
- Keywords: You need keywords in your content for your webpage to rank on Google, but too many keywords will make it look spammy, and might distract the user from actually enjoying your content. Insert a few keywords here and there, just enough to get picked up by Google.
- Agenda: Finally, your website should have an overarching message. Websites that have articles on many different topics don’t seem to have a coherent idea that they’re conveying to the user, making them look spammy and amateur. Your website should be made with one purpose in mind, and anything posted on it must conform to that message.
What it really comes down to, is that if you have a website with quality content and a few ads here and there, you really have nothing to worry about. Keep doing what you’re doing, because this update isn’t likely to affect you. However, if your website has no clear message, has poor content, and is extremely ad and affiliate link heavy, now’s the time to start making changes.
Otherwise, you might find yourself at the fury of Fred…