Fred shakes the SEO world

During the first week of March this year, Google unleashed what SEO experts call the ‘Fred’ update. Google has not confirmed the update and has not responded to queries from any of the major online publications. Seven months on, we still have no real information on the change.

The most noise about the update comes from the black hat community. When the black hat community gets involved it probably means that the update is related to link spam or spam networks. This update follows another unconfirmed update from Google during the first week of February that also hit link spam hard. During the same week, Google implemented another update for what experts believe was for content quality.

Google is not confirming any actual updates to the algorithm now. Instead, they say that there are at least three updates every day and that they do not discuss the details of any individual change.

Other than reports from webmasters and the black hat communities, the real evidence of change is from automated tools. These tools track changes in search engine rankings for hundreds of thousands of keywords. When there is a massive shift around in the results for these queries, it is a sign of a larger update.

A major algorithm update like this can have a major impact on traffic and search result positions for legitimate sites. Often, there are reconsideration requests posted as soon as the changes go live, and the traffic drops kick in. With an index so large, it can take days for fluctuations to stop, so we will only know the full extent of the changes once the dust settles.

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