Fred Update – What Do All Losers Have In Common?

Considering the facts that there are more than 600 Algorithm Updates by Google, every year, and that Google will not announce all the updates to their Ranking Algorithm, we are very glad to have Barry Schwartz who is collecting, writing and distributing current information about Google for over 13 years. Barry’s perseverance made it possible for us to know that, as far as the Google update is concerned, Fred was remarkable, even though the name Fred was to be a joke from the beginning.

As Barry reported, this update was confirmed by Google and rolled out in March 2017. Knowing where to look, I analyzed 300 domains on Google Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA which lost Visibility after March 13, 2017.

Nearly all losers were very advertisement heavy, especially banner ads, many of which were AdSense campaigns. Another thing that we often noticed was that those sites offered little or poor quality content, which had no value for the reader. It seem that many, but not all, websites are affected who tried to grab a large number of visitors from Google with low quality content, which they then tried to quickly and easily monetize through affiliate programs. Here are some of the most interesting examples from the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. (-75%) on

Visibility Index of on

The domain from San Antonio, Texas has lost 75% of their visibility, going from 3.9 visibility points to 0.9. On the chart above, we can see very nicely that this domain has been very sensitive to Google Updates related to quality, in the past, like Panda or Phantom. If we take a look at all the top-10 rankings they lost after the update (see the entire list here – you can use your browser zoom to see the URLs bei zooming out) and evaluate the URLs, we can clearly see that the content could be much better for the user and that they have too much advertisement above the fold. (-50%) on

Visibility Index of on

This domain is part of Barry’s article with over 100 domains which he analyzed for the possible Google Fred Update. This is such an interesting example because it strengthens the theory that too much advertisement plays a part in the update. Let’s first take a look at their layout before the Update: before Google’s Fred Update – Source

We have two AdSense blocks above the fold, where the top one can even push the main content further below the fold, depending on the banner size. seems to have quickly noticed the loss in rankings and made the decision to decrease their ads presence, above the fold. When we take a look at their layout today, there is only one ad block and their Visibility Index this week managed to recover.

We cannot quite decide who has the nicer smile in this picture, Meghan Trainor or Pete Handley. (-85%) on

Visibility Index of on

Here we have an example where the domain operator himself said at the SMX Munich, this month, that he was quite amazed how the domain survived so many other updates before. When we take a closer look at the site, it becomes very apparent that in this case it is more of a “too many affiliate links” szenario, as there are not AdSense block on the page. (-88%) on

Visibility Index of on

This Spanish domain actually offers some useful information. Here you can find all streets that belong to a specific postal code or vice versa. This simple idea made it possible for the domain to grow nicely over the past two years. If we take a look at the layout of the page, we notice, in relation to the content, that the AdSense block becomes actually larger than the main content.

The postal code “08001” and the map of Google Maps are all the content on this site


Looking at the ranking distribution for websites which seem to be affected by Fred gives us a nice view of how, for many many keywords, the rankings are passed to the back:

Ranking distribution on Google for BEFORE Google’s Fred Update
Ranking distribution on Google for AFTER Google’s Fred Update

Through those nearly 300 domains it became very apparent that many pages had a lot of advertisement, outdated, thin and scraped content, as well as incomprehensible articles made up of 300 word “SEO texts” pumped to the brim with main keyword mentions and void of any useful information or a sense of readability.

I hope you like it and recall the novelty song from 1962: “Right said Fred” from Bernard Cribbins:

“Right,” said Fred, “Both of us together
One each end and steady as we go.”
Tried to shift it, couldn’t even lift it
We was getting nowhere
And so we had a cuppa tea.

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