Fred and SEO: What You Need to Know

February 8, 2024
Fred | Cover Image

What is Fred?
Explanation of Fred

In the evolving realm of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google’s algorithm updates play a pivotal role in shaping online search landscapes. One such significant update is codenamed “Fred.” Introduced in March 2017, Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines—particularly those that prioritize revenue over user experience, with an excessive focus on ads, low-value content, and deceptive practices.

Imagine walking into a bookstore looking for a comprehensive guide on gardening. Instead of being directed to a section rich with valuable content, you find yourself navigating through aisles cluttered with irrelevant advertisements and low-quality booklets that barely cover gardening essentials. This is akin to the user experience Fred aims to address, emphasizing the importance of delivering quality content over profiting from misleading or excessive ads.

Why is Fred Important in SEO?

In SEO, the ultimate goal is to enhance the user experience while providing valuable content, thereby improving a site’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Fred underscores this by penalizing websites that fail to align with these objectives. The importance of Fred lies in its role as a reminder and enforcer of Google’s quality guidelines. It signals to webmasters and SEO professionals that maintaining a user-centric approach is critical for long-term success and visibility on Google.

How Fred Affects SEO?

Websites affected by Fred have experienced significant drops in traffic, some by as much as 50% to 90%, according to Search Engine Roundtable. These are predominantly sites with poor content quality, high ad-to-content ratios, or those engaging in manipulative SEO tactics. The message is clear: to sustain and improve search rankings, focusing on the creation of high-quality, user-valuable content is paramount.

For further insight, a study by SEMrush on Fred’s impact highlights the vulnerability of ad-centric, low-value content sites to Google’s algorithm updates. This reinforces the notion that SEO strategies must evolve in alignment with Google’s guidelines to ensure long-term visibility and ranking stability.


How can I tell if my site was affected by Fred?

Check for a noticeable decline in organic search traffic around March 2017. Use tools like Google Analytics to pinpoint such traffic changes. Analyzing these trends alongside Google’s update history can help identify if Fred impacted your site.

What should I do if my site was hit by Fred?

Focus on improving content quality and user experience. Remove or reduce intrusive advertisements, enhance the value provided through your site’s content, and ensure it aligns with user intent. Consider conducting a thorough SEO audit to identify and rectify any practices contrary to Google’s guidelines.

How can I protect my site from future updates like Fred?

Adopt a user-first approach in your SEO strategy. Prioritize high-quality content creation, ensure a good user experience, and adhere closely to Google’s guidelines. Staying informed about Google’s updates and the SEO community’s findings will also help you adapt your strategies proactively.


Google’s Fred update is a critical reminder of the importance of aligning SEO strategies with quality and user-experience guidelines. By understanding Fred’s implications and focusing on creating valuable, user-centric content, websites can not only recover from the negative impacts of such updates but also fortify themselves against future algorithmic shifts. Adhering to the principles of ethical SEO and prioritizing the user’s needs over short-term gains is key to sustainable success in the ever-changing landscape of search engine rankings.

February 8, 2024

Additional Ranking Factors You Need To Know

Receive the latest Alli AI Newsletter updates.