At the tail end of February 2017, Google made a major set of adjustments to the way its search engine ranks keyword search results. As with every algorithm update, professionals in the search engine optimization field promptly came up with a catchy nickname for it. After all, calling it the “February 2017 update” would get old after a while. This time around, a Google spokesman responded to a question about the update’s name by joking that we should just call it “Fred,” presumably the biggest contrast he could think of to previous colorful nicknames like Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin. In any case, SEO experts seem to love the name! Here’s our brief introduction to Fred and what he’s been doing around the Internet since he was let loose at the end of February.
What it Does
The most important question, obviously, is this: how does the Fred update change the Google search results ranking system?
Online marketing experts are still sorting through the mountains of data available to them to “reverse-engineer” just what changes Fred makes to the search algorithm. That means looking at a lot of websites, determining which ones have lost or gained rankings, and then comparing those sites to figure out what Fred liked and hated. We can say this for sure: Fred does not approve of websites that fill their pages with paid advertising, such as banner ads and AdSense messages. A website that publishes a lot of written content (like a frequently updated blog) but combines that with heavy advertising will now appear much further down in the search results than it did just a few weeks ago. In most cases a website like that, while featuring a large quantity of written content, is low on actual quality and value to readers. Google’s effort to push those websites off the first page of results is intended to give searchers easy access to pages with both quantity and quality of content.
Over the past month, it has been easy to find forums and article comment sections filled with angry protests written by website managers and SEO providers about their “unfairly” penalized websites—often peppered with rather colorful language that we’d rather not replicate here! Considering the vast number of websites touched by the algorithm update, it is almost certain that there were some websites that lost rankings when they probably shouldn’t have. No update is perfect the first time around, and as Google’s pros carefully watch its effects on the real world, they will certainly make adjustments in order to refine it. But in the vast majority of cases, the websites that suffered drastic losses in rankings and disappeared from the view of searchers were websites that those people would have clicked away from as soon as they saw how much advertising they were going to have to wade through.
What About PalmettoSoft?
Whether you are a client of ours currently or someone who is browsing our website to check out how we do things (in that case, welcome!), you’re probably curious about how Fred has affected the websites for which we manage SEO. We’re very happy to report that the update has not triggered panic around here! AdSense and other paid advertising content is virtually absent from our clients’ websites, so they largely flew under the radar of Fred as it reconsidered rankings. If anything, we expect our clients’ sites to see better rankings in the short term if they have ad-heavy competitors that are being scrutinized by Fred.
That being said, we are also taking the opportunity to capitalize on the general message sent by the Fred algorithm update. That message is that Google wants to see websites publish robust, content-rich pages without lots of ad content. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been making small adjustments to our clients’ pages, doing our best to make them as attractive as possible to Google in light of the recent update. Hopefully, these adjustments will give our clients some great ranking boosts and additional sales leads!
We look forward to talking with you more about this and other important SEO topics that affect your website’s rankings. Get in touch with us today by phone or email to see how we can help!