Anyone operating within the SEO sphere will likely have heard the breaking news that a new Google ranking update has taken place. The initial rumours spread like wild fire earlier last week and as all signs point to a significant algorithm update, it looks to be more than just speculation.
In the wake of those massive ranking fluctuations, Google are yet to comment on the update. It comes as no surprise given their reluctance in the past to openly publicise a new update. Instead, they prefer to keep us guessing, making it seem like updates are made on a continual basis.
But most SEO practitioners are far more astute at noticing the very real impact of this change in algorithm than Google would expect. The impact has become so noticeable, it’s even been given a name. Many are now calling this update ‘Fred’ – a term once jokingly coined by Google’s Gary Illyes to name all updates.
What’s all the fuss about?
Unlike the last alleged update in February 7th which centred around content quality, this one appears to be more link orientated. Those most affected seem to be operating within the ‘black hat’ SEO community. As such, this is most likely added effort by Google to crack down further on spam led approaches. If that’s the case, it’s great news for those tirelessly working on legitimate SEO practices.
However, some webmasters are suggesting that their ranking declined even though they don’t employ black hat techniques. While that may seem odd, it could be due to false positives or simply a lack of understanding of what is, and isn’t consider black-hat SEO. Link building would be a good example of that which may still be common practice despite the possible implications.
Either way, several indicators point to a major change in algorithm, notably volatility in automated tracking tools. And that’s not to mention the ongoing buzz within the industry; some enjoying ranking gains while others are being penalised.
Checking for penalisations
Those concerned that ‘Fred’ may have impacted their rankings should dig deeper by initially checking organic traffic in Google Analytics. Clearly, if rankings lower sharply then so would the number of impressions, clicks and visits to site. Any drop in organic traffic starting from March 8th, 2017 would confirm negative implications as a result of this update.
Otherwise, there may be an increase in organic traffic during this period which would only confirm that SEO practices utilised are above board and effective.
With Google yet to lift the lid on ‘Fred’ and the possible implications across the entire SEO community, it’s unclear as to how much impact this will have. Until more information is given, it’s business as usual. As mentioned, this looks to be a beneficial move for any webmaster employing SEO techniques by the book, while those trying to enjoy a quick advantage may be regretting their poor choices.
Given the increased pressure for those using spam led techniques, the ‘Fred’ update can only be valuable for future strategies.