The word that businesses dread the most is spelled A-L-G-O-R-I-T-H-M. Algorithms might not be your cup of tea, but they are primarily what Google is made of. For Google, the algorithm defines how different web pages are scanned and scored for ranking. In other words, it’s a statement of what factors Google takes into consideration to define the ranking position of your web page for different search terms. The algorithm helps Google to crawl effectively through different websites and bring up the most relevant results for each search. So far, so good. But more recently, there’s been rumors of an algorithm change in 2017, called Fred, that has affected a majority of low-content websites.

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Who’s Fred?

The Fred update has not been confirmed by Google. However, according to searchenginelandcom several websites have seen a drop by up to 90% in traffic in March 2017. Fred is thought to have appeared late February or early March so that the drop would have a legitimate explanation. It is believed the update targets websites with low-value content that promote revenue strategies above helpful content. The main victims of the Fred update are blogs that compiled content on various topics not in an effort to help visitors but written to place an affiliate link or promotional content.

Get a professional SEO Audit

There’s no way around it: if you want to fight off the negative impact of the Fred update, you need to improve your SEO rankings. This starts with a professional SEO audit to identify the items that need to be improved or corrected; ignitedigital.com offers an SEO service that uses an on-page audit and competitive analysis to define a strategy for improvement. But they also make sure that your website has the necessary technical factors that facilitate ranking for search engine crawlers. The most common SEO issues that could lead to websites being penalized by the Fred update tend to be the use of generic keywords and on-page keyword inconsistency.

Change your content strategy

It is essential to change your approach to content creation to put the customer at the core of your strategy. For Sharon Tanton, Creative Director at Valuable Content, reinventing your content begins with answering the most common questions asked by your customers. If you understand their needs, then you can address these in your content and share valuable information. It sounds logical but too many websites still ignore this piece of advice. Sharon suggests creating several pieces of content to target one generic customer query so that you can focus on different levels of depths and different angles. In other words, create niche content that is valuable for your SEO and your customers.

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While Google still has to confirm the existence of the Fred update, its impacts are unmistakable. Websites have dropped in the ranking system within days, and most are still struggling to resurface in the search results. As with most algorithm changes, it’s about transforming the way you used to present content, rapidly and durably, so that you can escape the damages of the Fred update. But there’s something that Google has never changed throughout the years and the many updates, that’s its mission. Google is entirely user-focused and aims to make its users’ lives easier. Businesses that place the user first in their content strategy are more likely to avoid the penalization of future algorithm updates.