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Unidentified Google algorithm spotted!

Alex La News March 14, 2017
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As Google keeps the tradition of making its updates a big secret, we learn about new changes in algorithms from odd traffic decrease that we came across within our mandatory rankings and position analysis. Since March 8, we have been observing sudden and undefined rankings and organic traffic drop for some of our users’ websites. The drop for websites in our database which ranged reached 50% in some cases. Such changes occurred overnight and became a reason of great concern. While some users share conspiracy theories on Google being hacked or blaming CIA, we made a couple of observations and realized: Google has updated its algorithm once again.

As we said, it is not uncommon for Google to keep mum about any algorithm updates. In fact, Google employees were acting very secretive in social media, liking the comments questioning whether the algorithm has been tinkered with or not, and stating that the algorithm is updated all the time.

Fellow webmasters and SEO experts have already dubbed it the Fred Update. In fact, since March 9 it has been decided to call new updates Fred:

Although the update hasn’t been confirmed by Google (and will probably never be confirmed, that’s just not the way of Google), there are zero doubts that something else could have affected the rankings.


Update Discussion


The total drop in organic traffic from Google of the affected websites was 50%. Such sharp decrease occurred overnight, which many users find alarming.

The alternative theories suggest that Google has been attacked and, in fact, suffered data loss, so now it is trying to regain what it had lost. However, this is not the case.

Here is data obtained through Mozcast on March 13:

Weather for Past 30 Days405060708090100Algo Temperature

The hotter the weather is the stormier Google rankings are. However, such strong impact on listings is a rarity as the temperature usually doesn’t rise above 70-80 degrees.


Expert Opinion


Before making any certain conclusions, we conducted meticulous data gathering and analysis. The results of our research showed us that the websites targeted by Fred Update are either content driven, rely on ads or do both. Several of these websites were created specifically for advertisement purposes, not for user experience - their rankings drop reached 90% overnight. This allows us to conclude that the new updated is targeted towards reducing the misuse of ads and punishing websites, which neglect of the needs of users.


Our Recommendations


Adapting website to Google algorithms updates

First and foremost, keep calm. Google changes its algorithms to keep search results relevant to the queries of users and ensure that only the finest, most trustworthy websites are available to them.

Usually, it takes around a couple of weeks to adapt to the update. However, as adjusting the flow of our work to the algorithm updates is our specialty, it will take even lesser time for us to restore the rankings of the websites, to which this update became an inconvenience. We have been developing a more flexible approach to SEO techniques, which explains why only a small percent of the sites promoted by us was affected.

Currently, we are continuing our research and working on adjustments to our SEO strategy in order to reclaim the rankings that suffered because of Fred Update. However, as our preliminary analysis has shown, it would be wise to be careful with your advertising and concentrate your efforts on implementing UX-features into your web projects. We also suggest staying in contact with your personal managers to keep track of our latest findings and receive timely SEO suggestions that will help your website quickly regain its positions in case it had an unlucky encounter with Fred Update.

Stay cool and stay one step ahead with Semalt!

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Andrew Timchenko
Head of Customer Success Department
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