Google’s Fred and Owl Updates Shake SEO World

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Google Seo

2 Major Google Algorithm Updates Shaking the SEO World

Fred Google Update

March 8th – Unconfirmed “Fred Update” shakes the SEO world in the words of Barry Schwartz from SEO Roundtable.


Whilst Google rolls out an estimated 600 updates annually, the Fred Update (a name which was jokingly suggested by Google’s Gary Illyes and seemingly adopted by the SEO community) is reportedly targeted towards spam links. The chatter and reports are Black Hat SEO communities certainly support this theory with similar sites taking big hits in organic rankings.

Black hat SEO refers to aggressive technics designed to manipulate (or trick) search engines using tactics such as link manipulation, invisible text, sneaky redirects, link farms and article spinning. We’ve covered the difference between black hat seo and white hat SEO in our previous post.


Here are five things you can do right now to see if you were affected and start recovering any lost rankings and traffic

1) Study your Google Analytics data. Did you see a drop in organic traffic or the number of keywords you were ranking for between 5th and 20th March? If no, you are probably OK.

2) Segment your content into two categories – high quality and updated vs low quality and stale.

3) Cross-reference your lost keywords, based on organic traffic volume and previous Google rankings, with any low-quality content pages.

4) Get working on improving your content quality immediately. Start by editing and improving existing content and adding updates. Being with cornerstone pages that were driving the most traffic pre-Fred (see number 3).

5) Use a backlink spam audit tool to search and remove any questionable backlinks. Also, ensure that your remaining “good” backlinks appear organic and natural and in reasonable ratios. For example, follow to no follow ratios, similarities in anchor text, etc. are all factors that Google takes into account when attributing the value of your backlinks.

Learn more about effective link building strategies for 2018.



Owl Google Update

Google announced on 25th April major changes meant to fight fake news and hate speech that detrimentally impact search results.

The Google algorithm update, codenamed “Project Owl,” allows consumers two new ways to report what they perceive as problems (or concerns) in organic search results. It is perhaps the biggest step of recent to integrate big data, machine learning and direct human (or end user) feedback.

Why is Google making changes?

Google has come under under fire for some time for search results that show false, offensive, or outrageous information about certain topics. For instance, search results prominently displayed links to pro-Nazi sites in response to queries about the Holocaust. Additionally, when people started typing phrases about women or racial groups, Google would suggest queries like “Why are women so dumb?”

Needless to say this got a lot of negative press and complaints from activists such as women’s rights movements. The algorithm change is no real departure from the original intent, which is to display quality (and factual) information.

Here is a snapshot of the policy violation report resulting from the Owl Update.

google screenshot


How the Owl Update favours smaller businesses.

The update, which will be gradually rolled out over the span of a few months, also aims to give more to weight to “authoritative content” over “authoritative sites”. This allows an excellent opportunity for smaller (and newer) businesses to produce quality content to dominate over larger businesses who previously would have ranked due to factors such as domain authority.


How can you benefit from the Owl Update – start focussing on producing high quality, original and engaging content on regular basis within your niche.

Blogging and content creation (such as this) form a critical part of white hat SEO strategy which we at the Digital Squad engage in. Despite being the subject matter experts, business owners often admit not having the time to write content. To address this common problem, we work with a team of 20 content writers, authors and blogger who are specialists in multiple niches. Using specialist content writers, we constantly deliver high quality, engaging pieces of work, which are loved by both end-user and Google.

If your business has taken a hit in the past 2 months due to either the Fred or more recent Owl update, talk to NZ’s leading SEO agency today. We are a b2b marketing agency with expertise in SEO services, Facebook marketing Auckland, LinkedIn marketing, AdWords management agency Auckland and more. 

We provide a complementary site audit (all manually done in house, usually takes us 2 days) and a full SEO campaign proposal which is specifically engineered to your domain, industry /niche and takes into your competitors strategy (yes, we’re extremely good at reverse engineering it!)

Recommended Reads:

How Targeted Marketing Moves Customers Through the Sales Funnel

Effective Link Building Strategies for 2018

Increase Your Conversion Rate with Simple Psychology

Helping Small Businesses Grow and Adapt with Marketing Automation


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