There is a storm coming for some bloggers and marketers and chances are they aren’t even aware of it. It is in the early stages in its “destructive” (chuckle) tirade but it is already causing damage. I am talking about Fred, Google’s latest algorithm update. It’s changing the game completely now in ways that as bloggers, as marketers, as Internet users, we need to fully understand. And until someone finds a way to work around this latest development, you have to know how to play nice in order to be successful.
Who Is Fred?
Back in March of this year, Google updated its search algorithm (that means the computer formula that makes a program work) for about the 120th time for the year (Google updates its algorithm about 500 – 600 times FOR THE YEAR – source). This is to ensure optimal performance. Remember that Google is the number one search engine in the world so that it has to be at the top of its game at all times. However, this update in early March was not just another efficiency guard. This was something totally new. Apparently, this new update is geared to weed out websites that are only about getting reads, hits, and sales and not really about giving valuable information to the people who patronize the sites.
The algorithm is looking at overly used keywords and basically “devaluing their worth” or ranking them lower than they once were. So sites that are heavily geared toward affiliate sales and have a lot of ads about affiliate programs may suffer. Or a website that more or less is using a keyword over and over and over again just to get ranked but not to actually help will suffer. Because they are just taking and not bothering to give back. What has happened so far is that many sites are reporting that they are dropping in Google rankings and finding themselves lower in the search results. Of course, you know this means that fewer people will see them and they will not have as many reads as they once had.
Why the name Fred? Don’t get carried away. It doesn’t mean anything like “Find Really Exasperating Domains” or “Flush Rude Engines Down”. It’s not an acronym and there is no story. Google’s Webmaster, Gary Illyes came up with the name and he said that unless they said otherwise, every update would be called Fred (source). Sounds like Google is trying to start a new era of web search and optimization.
What Does This Have To Do With Us?
Google is very aware that when people go online to search for something, they just want direct answers. They appreciate the value of the consumer’s time. This is why they work so hard to keep their services updated. They appreciate that need for satisfaction (and in some cases instant gratification) and they try not to take advantage of the customers that trust them.
But many bloggers and marketers and advertisers are not making that same commitment. You know this as well as I do. In blogging school, they teach you to look for and use certain keywords to be at the very top of the search. So if your site is about making money fast and you are a part of an affiliate program that offers courses in how to make money in whatever way, they tell you “Oh, use this string of words – Fast, Money, Easy, Now. Then arrange them in this way and make sure you include this.” They basically teach you to trick the system. Sure, they tell you to write an article but the article is chock full of keywords with poor quality content and a poor quality website.
This is not fair and Google decided that enough was enough at this point. So, now this means that people will actually have to write great content, makes great websites and not just use SEO and keywords to get them over. Does this mean that SEO is dead or that you should really not pay it any mind? For this version of SEO, Fred has made the answer to these questions “Yes” for now, in my opinion. With this update, search engine optimization will definitely need to be revisited. This is not the same search engine. This is a smarter, faster and more discerning version of Google and the way people do SEO needs to shift.
As a blogger, you need to write better content. Offer insightful information or opinions and DO NOT REGURGITATE what already exists. As a marketer, you cannot just look at what popular keywords are to make a sale. You have to commit to research on behaviors, feelings, and attitudes to a popular topic BEFORE you frame your campaign. You have to put in the work now and that’s just the way it is.
What You Can Do.
I am not a tech guru and I am no expert on SEO but I am a consumer and that is the most powerful position in this entire equation. Bloggers, write good content. Write interesting content. Answer the question if you’re going to use popular search results to get questions and ideas for your article. We will find it eventually and we will return again and again if your content is of any worth. That’s all we ask. Marketers, DO RESEARCH. Do deep research. Think about the impact that your campaign may have after its release. Think about if you can afford to stand the consequences should there be any backlash. Let me help you out a lot with this one: Don’t be Pepsi. Be creative. If it’s good enough, we’ll buy into your product. We won’t be able to resist.
Make a good looking website. We, humans, are visual creatures. We eat, shop and judge with our eyes. Chances are we’ve already decided if we want to participate in something by the time the first glance is over. If it’s shady or poorly done, we won’t trust you and we want no part of it. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on graphics. We just want to see a pretty site. One that invites us to read it. One that does not look like the business’ office is in the basement of an abandoned house with dirty needles, blood stains and unidentifiable fluids littered (and oozing) on the floor. WordPress has some amazing templates. Wix has some good pre-built sites too. USE THEM! First impressions are lasting impressions. Make your impressions count.
Lastly, learn how to market your stuff on social media. And no, I don’t mean just posting your link on like for like posts (I ain’t knocking ‘em. I’m just saying that’s not really marketing). Make sure that you create relationships with people. We want to know you before we can trust you and take any of your advice. If you have to start from scratch, start from scratch. Learn everything that you can. Buy all the books that you can. Just make your product buyable and enjoyable. Please.
There is no secret trap door. There is no big equation or overly complicated scheme. Just don’t cheat the consumer of their time and don’t insult their intelligence. Believe me, we can tell when you do.
As someone who holds a degree in Management and Marketing and more importantly, a consumer, I agree with Google 1010%. I HATE visiting blogs that offer me nothing especially when I am in a desperate situation and I need an answer. I don’t do that on my blog and I don’t like it being done to me. I am so glad that this is happening because now it means that we’ll have a return to real content and the making of an effort to give value for money.
People are investing their time and their effort only to end up with shoddy advice or short changed advice. How is that fair to them? I believe that it’s about time something like this happened and I hope that Google takes it up a notch. That way the great content will shine and everyone will get the rewards they deserve whether you’re the demander or the supplier.
I hope this article kind of cleared up what this whole Fred thing is about and I equally hope that if you find yourself falling into the “Taker” category, you end up re-evaluating yourself and changing for the better. Leave a comment below and tell me what you think about this whole situation. How do you feel about it? Do you agree with Google? Why or why not? Do you think consumers are really being short changed? Let me know below.
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- Google Algorithm Change History. (n.d.). Retrieved June 03, 2017, from https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change
- Pena, S. (2017, April 20). Your Guide to Google’s Fred Algorithm Update. Retrieved June 03, 2017, from https://www.conductor.com/blog/2017/04/fred-algorithm-update/