On March 8, 2017, many webmasters saw the website ranking of some of their sites drop unexpectedly, and rumors started to fly that something new was going on in the world of search engine optimization.

It turned out that Google made new changes to its website ranking algorithm so that it could better protect users from black hat SEO techniques, and for the administrators of spammy sites, this news was not welcome or good. SEO techniques designed to fool users and search engines are some web masters’ bread and butter, and the latest version of Google’s algorithm, nicknamed “Fred,” is just the latest chapter of the ongoing saga between Google and underhanded search engine optimization techniques.


Why Is It Called Fred?

Like so many things about Fred, the new algorithm’s name is shrouded in mystery.

It is unclear whether it is the website administrators whose website ranking was affected by Fred that gave the algorithm its name, or whether the name came from Google itself.

One Google employee joked in a tweet that all future updates to Google’s website ranking algorithm would be called “Fred.”

But the question remains: why Fred? Why not Bill or George or Seymour or Aloysius or McLovin or any of the other myriad names that one could bestow on an algorithm that enjoins white hat SEO practices while thwarting black hat shenanigans? Perhaps it is because Fred sounds so friendly and therefore, paradoxically, so menacing.

Thus, it stands to reason that Google’s new Fred got its name because it is a friend and because it is an enemy.

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Google Fred update.ebaysoft.1


Is Fred a Cause for Alarm?

Website administrators who follow white hat SEO techniques have little reason to fear that Fred will negatively affect the website ranking of their sites or any of the keywords on them.

In fact, keywords are not even Fred’s main concern. The biggest ways that websites attract Fred’s ire and get their website ranking reduced is when the websites are cluttered with too many ads and irrelevant links.

Fred also penalizes sites that are designed in such a way as to deceive users to click on affiliate links.

This means that sites that do not have affiliate links or clickable ads are in little or no danger of Fred lowering their website ranking on the results of Google searches.

In fact, the only thing that tends to raise alarms for Fred when it comes to content is duplicate content, especially when it comes to headings. Even that is not usually a problem for website administrators who follow white hat SEO practices, except in the case of duplicate headings.

It could be a problem, for example, if all the posts on a blog follow the same format and, therefore, have very similar headings which are sometimes duplicates.

Even that will only affect the website ranking a little bit if it is a generally good site designed in good faith and populated with genuinely organic content.


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Spammers Beware

The purpose of the new Google algorithm popularly known as Fred is to keep intentionally spammy sites from turning up on the results of Google searches, ultimately making these sites unprofitable and discouraging their creation.

The sites that Fred targets the most aggressively are the ones that are based on black hat SEO and not designed to be informative to users.

Anyone who has visited a black hat SEO can recognize one easily and would be relieved to see Fred remove them from the early pages of search results.

These black hat SEO have little content, and much of their content is plagiarized or just poorly written.

They have many ads that users can easily click on while not trying to click on them, and seemingly innocuous parts of the content contain hyperlinks to affiliate links, more ads, and other types of spam.

These are the types of sites for which Fred will drastically lower the website ranking; well-made sites will only be affected a little bit if their rankings are even affected at all.

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How to Ensure High Rankings

No matter how many times Google’s algorithms change, and whether new versions of the algorithm go by Fred or some other name, the best way to ensure a high website ranking is to abide by good SEO techniques.

That means that content should be the most important thing on the site, and that it should be written with its message in mind, without forcing keywords into it in an unnatural way.

Any links that connect to your site should be to other sites with subject matter that is relevant to the content of the page to which they are linked.

A few ads are fine, but they should clearly appear to be ads; users will accept them as a manifestation of the reality that sites that employ white hat SEO often rely on displaying ads as a source of revenue, and besides, it is easy enough for users to avoid clicking on these ads.


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Despite its cryptic name, Fred is nothing to fear, except perhaps for career spammers.

It is only the latest in an ongoing series of algorithm updates designed to discourage black hat SEO website design techniques.

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