As most webmaster or site owner are probably aware of, Google has released algorithm changes since its earliest days, often affecting sites that had previously dominated the top rankings in the search results. About a month ago, the SEO and webmaster community reported a Google Phantom Update that had a significant impact on sites with low quality content and generated massive changes in serps. In the days following the update, many web affiliates and site owners shared screen shots of their traffic or visibility drops with Google organic search, while the lucky ones shared screenshots of their traffic surges and ranking improvements.

Google did not confirmed or denied the update, but only a few weeks after the announcement, the statistical evidence compiled by webmasters and site owners, as well as the indicators pointed by tracking tools, showed signs of another shift in Google’s rankings.

The latest update, named by the webmaster community as ‘Fred’, is reported to have impacted blog and news-style sites, some of which report huge traffic drops. Now, there are a couple of things you should consider before you start panicking. First, this update does seem to impact links or content. Instead, the update is expected to have some said low value content aimed at revenue generation over helping or informing their visitors.

Now, not every site that monetizes content via advertising or through referral traffic is going to be affected by Fred. According to web analysts and SEO experts, the new update is likely to affect sites that have more banners and links than content, but if you’re an affiliate and feel some concern regarding your links, then no worries. As explained by Webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes, affiliate links are not a problem as long as you don’t pack your site with them.

Based on the recent buzz and the numerous threads posted online, the general consensus is that this update is aimed at sites using heavy advertising frameworks or low quality content to drive ad traffic. While this is typically seen a minor issue and not as a black hat practice, there’s recent evidence that Google is imposing penalties to sites that engage in SEO spamming techniques.


While there’s no secret formula to prevent a negative impact on your organic traffic, keep in mind that providing accurate information should always be your number one priority.

Here’s a final tip. If your site has been directly impacted by Fred, then do some house-cleaning: There’s nothing wrong in using banners and images to drive traffic, although, avoiding unnecessary add placement and using content instead of heavy frameworks seems like an effective way to diminish the “Fred Effect.”