Google changes its search algorithm frequently. But it is easy to overlook when changes happen, because Google does not announce it in most cases. The onus is on online marketers to detect the change, typically by witnessing noticeable changes in SEO performance after the fact. If you find some […]

One of the common questions we regularly get from clients is how do keep abreast of Google guidelines and updates. The main issues with the updates is that we get no warning, and only will know after the fact if a change has occurred. Further to that, Google do not tell use what changes were made, so as SEO’s and webmasters we can only assume what has actually occurred. We cannot control Google, and therefore we can never guarantee we are always within the guidelines. It makes us chuckle when SEO or web companies sprout that they only operate within the guidelines. Frankly it’s impossible. You can only do your best within a specific period of time. Believe it or not, we even had a client who said they “rang Google” to see if we operated with the rules. Firstly there is no phone number you can call to ask this, and secondly, the call center person on the other end, if there was one, could not have any idea if we are or are not. This client has since moved on, for better or for worse. In any case, the article above is interesting and points out some of the changes that have already occurred in 2017. Below are some excerpts:

Fred

Over the past few months, the SEO world has been abuzz with Fred, the name of the Google update that is currently creating waves. In early March, google updates and changeswebmasters afar and wide began speculating that a major update had begun pushing out due to major turbulence in the SERPs. Some website rankings crashed significantly, and we saw almost 90% of tracked keywords shifted in search rankings. It came to light that this update was an attempt from Google to weed out websites more interested in making money than presenting quality content to users.

Google Messages for Webmasters

Going a step deeper than the vague guidance we tend to get from Google, webmasters have been able to chart out actions required to recover from any SEO-related, temporary setback. In many cases, the problem comes down to cleaning up your links, and this holds true with reacting to Fred. It’s gotten where link penalties are severe when the source websites fall foul of Google’s guidelines, and this applies as well to domains overloaded with advertisements and marginally quality of content.

Keeping Your Backlinks Clean and Tidy

Via Fred, Google has once again made it clear that we should be focused on acquiring fewer high-quality, trustworthy and relevant links. Chasing link quality continues to get more risky and less productive in the end. Of course, you also want to be careful to pursue a well-rounded mix of links and link types, to comply with the standards they went after with Google Penguin a few years ago. Packing anchor text with keywords can send wrong signals to Google, making them see it as a part of link scheme that deserves a penalty.

My Thoughts

I certainly agree with most of the above. But in essence, nothing has really changed all that much, it’s simply that FRED has underlined the importance of what most of us already know. If nothing else, the biggest heads up was to ensure inbound links are more relevant and from higher quality sites. Over the last couple of years, you could certainly get away with building links from non niche related sites. ie you could build your PBN and basically use general market level domains for all types of niche markets. While it’s still normal to have a portion of inbound links from general domains (think local directories), a  much greater importance has been placed on relevance since FRED. We’ve always tried to ensure our link building has a degree of high relevance. It certainly takes more effort and thought, but the pay offs are certainly worth the effort.

Jono Farrington on FacebookJono Farrington on Twitter
Jono Farrington
SEO & Digital Marketer
Jono is a partner in two digital agencies in Australia. He also founded and curates his personal SEO blog at http://theseoglossary.com. He lives in Adelaide, South Australia.