Google is renowned for makes frequent changes in its search algorithm to enhance the web browsing experience of the users. In most cases, these algorithm updates are implemented without providing any prior notice or information to the webmasters, who are generally taken by surprise. Google seems to have one such update recently, which although still unconfirmed, has created an upheaval in the world of SEO. The update, which has been named “Fred”, seems to be targeting the link quality aspect of the algorithm. It is being speculated that the update was activated sometime in the second week of March, as it was then that the SEO community starting observing fluctuations in clients traffic.
As has been seen in some active discussions across the various SEO and Webmasters forums, these professionals reported an initial drop in rankings as well as huge traffic. Many of these professionals also reported a complete delisting of the web pages. However, just 8 to 12 hours after these initial reporting, things seemed to return to normal, with the rankings of client websites resuming their normal position, although there massive changes in flux have been observed. The first reports of fluctuations came from sites that have suspect link profiles and saw some large drops that were not in accordance with the normal fluctuations that were usually observed with such sites.
Google has neither confirmed nor denied making any such update to the algorithm, which has further created a sort of chaos within the SEO industry. Speaking about the issue, John Mueller and Gary Illyes, two Googlers reportedly stated that the company made changes and updates almost every day. Garry even went on to joke that any unconfirmed Google updates would be named Fred, which is what led to this latest update getting its name. The considerable amount of noise coming from the black hat community has further indicated that this major update is more likely to be related to link penalty rather than content quality.
In view of the lack of confirmation from Google as well as the conflicting reports emerging from within the SEO community, experts are suggesting that the volatility and fluctuation might not actually be due to a single major update. Rather they feel that these changes might result from a combination of smaller updates that have been made to the existing algorithm. Many of them are even of the opinion that since the link and spam update, Penguin having become a reality, there is a great possibility of another link update having been implemented by Google. This especially seems to be a realistic explanation in view of the drops reported by sites with suspected links.
This is not the first time that Google has remained silent about a major algorithm update. Earlier in February this year, the technology giant introduced two other updates targeting spam and content quality. Not surprisingly, both these updates are still to be confirmed by the company. Whether or not Google confirms this latest “Fred” update, the one thing that the SEO community seems to agree about is that it is designed to target ad heavy and low value content sites.