What Is Google's Fred Algorithm Update?

SEO experts have recently noticed big shifts in their clients' Google search rankings. The algorithm update responsible for this is link related, so read this post to learn what this means for your business and how to avoid a drop in your search ranking.


 In a major shock to the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) world, Google has released an algorithm update, called “Fred,” and it’s based on the quality of a website’s inbound links (links to your website from other websites).

Read on to learn how this will affect your business’s search ranking.

What is Google’s Fred algorithm update?

Google makes changes to its algorithm every day, according to a tweet from Gary Illyes (webmaster trends analyst at Google).

However, Fred isn’t just a small, daily change. This update got a lot of attention from SEO experts and webmasters because it has had a rollercoaster effect on their clients’ website rankings.

Some SEOs are reporting that their clients’ rankings are plummeting only to improve, plummet again, improve again and so on over the course of just a few hours.

Google hasn’t confirmed the algorithm change, which is not unusual, but through a tweet exchange, the update ended up receiving the name “Fred,” after a fish Illyes gave the same name.


Who does Google’s Fred algorithm update affect?

It looks like the Fred algorithm update is mostly affecting organic website rankings rather than local search rankings, and it’s had a negative impact on businesses with a bad link profile (lots of spam links pointing to their site).

If you’ve ever paid for links in the past, or if you notice some inbound links to your site that are coming from spam sites, your website could be penalized.

Fred also appears to be penalizing low-quality, content-based sites whose aim is to generate AdSense ad revenue without providing any value to the reader. So, as long as your site doesn’t consist of low-quality content and a bunch of ads, you should be fine there.

While Fred doesn’t seem to be affecting local businesses yet, any link-related algorithm update could have an impact on local businesses that have received inbound links from spam sites.

Even if Fred doesn’t affect your local ranking, though, your website’s organic ranking could see some changes.

Want to learn more about organic search ranking v. local search rankings? Check out this post to read more about the difference between organic and local SEO.

How to Check Your Backlinks and Avoid a Link-Related Penalty

You can check your backlink profile at Moz.com.

If you do find some bad links pointing to your site, you can contact your webmaster and have them use Google’s disavow tool (this is an expert-level process, so use it with caution) to let Google know you don’t want the spam site to be part of your link profile.

Want more link building tips?

For an in-depth introductory link building post, check out How to Increase Search Engine Ranking with Link Building.

Or, for a quick overview of link building for local businesses, here's a bite-sized post about the same topic we wrote over at MarketingBitz, How to Earn Local Links the Right Way.

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