On March 8th, many people in the world of SEO, from account executives to the “do it yourselfers”, noticed something weird going on with their website’s analytics. Keyword rankings were unexpectedly dropping and overall traffic was significantly down, which led many to suspect Google had rolled out an unannounced algorithm update.
As many internet people do, they took to Twitter to confirm that something was happening with Google, as their sites began to not be found on Google (which we deem at Zola Media “the purgatory”).
On March 9th, Gary Illyes, webmaster trend analyst at Google, jokingly referred to this new “no name” update as “Fred.”
Over the next few weeks, as more and more websites were dropping tremendously in rankings and losing potential valuable customers, SEO experts were trying to figure out the following things:
Was there even an update?
What is it even targeting?
How are we going to recover?
For example, Google’s Penguin update specifically targets websites that have tried using spam to rank well on Google, such as paying for hundreds of spammy links or keyword stuffing their websites.
Google’s Panda update targeted sites that have low or thin content from appearing in the top of the searches.
A few weeks later, on March 24th, Gary Illyes confirmed: Google had an update.
Well, that’s one mystery solved. However, the problem still remained: no one knew what this algorithm was specifically targeting as more and more sites were no longer appearing in Google searches.
Also on March 24th, John Mueller, another webmaster trends analyst at Google, answered some questions about the Fred update in his Webmaster hangout about 2 hours after Gary Illyes tweeted confirming the update. John’s response to what the update targeted was vague:
“Essentially, if you are following the Google guidelines and you are doing things technically right, then that sounds to me like there might just be just quality issues with regards to your site. Things that you can improve overall when it comes to the quality of the site.”
What does that even mean?
The great thing about the internet is that someone already asked this very question and has found the answer. Several bloggers spent time analyzing hundreds of sites that were impacted by the Fred update and currently reside in the stone age.
After analyzing several sites, an overall trend started to emerge: these sites had a lot of outdated or thin content.
In the world of online marketing, you might have heard the phrase “Content is king!” Google, which as you can see, isn’t always forthcoming with information, has previously said that it considers many variables when determining website rankings, but the two most important are highly relevant, quality links and content.
At Zola Media, there’s a very good reason why all of our Synergy packages come with initial pages of content. If Fred is any indication of the direction that Google is heading, then it’s more imperative than ever to have someone, even if it’s not the highly skilled content writers at Zola rewrite your website to ensure that your content isn’t getting “outdated.” If you have any pages with less than 300 words, it’s best to add more some more content to get it over the 500 word “Google Panda hump.”
But don’t fret. If you don’t know anyone who can help you write legal jargon in laymen’s terms, or if you’re a current Synergy client that has used all of their initial content, or even if you’re not a Synergy client and have your website hosted on our platform, our content writers are available to help you.
Content is just more than verbiage on a page, however. If you’re not a Synergy customer, when was the last time you updated your blog? Content includes other digital assets such as infographics, videos, whitepapers, blogs and press releases. Some of our higher level Synergy plans offer this type of custom content creation to help our clients keep their site constantly updated, which with the new Fred update is now more important than ever.
Photocredit: SEO Roundtable