Google’s Latest Fred Update Hits Thin Content Sites Hard

Google updates its algorithm almost constantly, with major updates typically causing a wave of panic as corner-cutting webmasters find themselves time and time again faced with a big smackdown from the search engine.

The most recent update – about which Google isn’t talking – is called “Fred,” and was launched on March 8. Although Google hasn’t discussed the specifics of Fred, most reports indicate that its main purpose was to penalize sites that have thin, low-quality content that exist mostly to generate ad and affiliate revenue.

This doesn’t mean that Adsense and affiliate links shouldn’t be used. What it does mean is that webmasters need to take extra steps to build real websites, with legitimate articles. Those tired old content marketing tactics designed to get large amounts of content up quickly will no longer work.

What does Google like and what don’t they like? It’s always been a moving target, but here’s a brief list of tactics whose time is near an end:

  • Articles generated by content mills and overseas freelance hacks, generally for less than ten dollars each. These articles tend to be written quickly, mostly by repurposing existing content, and they contain mostly superficial and obvious information that is of no real value.
  • Boilerplate affiliate websites. These affiliate sites are quick to create, typically just by listing products in a certain category and including affiliate links and some basic boilerplate descriptors. They offer very little value and nothing original.
  • Pure backlink-driven SEO strategies. Backlinks continue to remain important, but backlinks that point to a website with thin or low-quality content will no longer be of any value. In other words – if your website has crap content, the best backlinks in the world aren’t going to help you.

Google wants you to have high quality content

The problem is that not many webmasters understand what “high quality” means. Those who operate Adsense-driven and affiliate-driven websites understand numbers and the bottom line, and focus too much on hacks and SEO tricks rather than creating a meaningful website. They are not writers, and the people who work for the content mills they hire are not writers.

This is precisely why webmasters interested in long-lasting results need to have a professional managing editor on staff, and also need to have professional writers with backgrounds in journalism producing content. This may mean paying $100 an article rather than $10 an article. It’s going to blow a lot of low-budget webmasters out of the water, but the fact is, the cost of entry to play on Google is growing.

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