The name on every webmaster’s lips this week was “Fred.”
Or maybe it was on the tips of their fingers, since we’re talking about forum posts. Or both I guess.
Well, at any rate, Fred has been making the rounds and our communities have been busy trying to figure out what, exactly, it is.
But if you’ve been reading about Fred all week and are tired of that subject, fear not!
We also have some great posts about digital privacy and the value of Facebook likes from Cre8asiteforums, learning SEO at conferences on SEO Chat, and Google’s recent additions to their quality rater guidelines on WebmasterWorld. Let’s begin!
Ever since the most recent U.S. election, fake news has been a hot topic. Google has weighed in here and there to say that they’ll be addressing it – along with hate speech and misleading headlines. The changes that they’ve made to their Quality Rater Guidelines might give us a window into what, specifically, Google wants to do.
You can find discussion in the WebmasterWorld link above, but if you just want a quick overview you can also find this story on Threadwatch. WebmasterWorld’s admin, engine, writes that Google is
“…designating ‘low quality’ sites that are copies or mimic other sites, of sites that look like news sites but have factually inaccurate content that is aimed at benefiting a ‘person, business, government, or other organization politically, monetarily or otherwise.'”
Forum member keyplyr writes,
“That’s one way around the censorship issue; sites are free to publish anything they like, but if it’s BS just rank them lower.”
Goodroi summarizes the whole thing well:
“…Google is trying to diminish bad user experiences…There is also a growing spam issue. Google rankings are still influenced by links. If you publish an accurate story, it is usually lost among the crowded mundane field and gains few or no links. If you publish a crazy fake clickbait article, it is more likely to gain links. The crazier it is, the more likely it will gain links…For obvious reasons Google does not want to reward this strategy.”
“Fred” is the latest Google algorithm update. It dropped on March 8th and sparked a great deal of chatter on WebmasterWorld, as well as Black Hat World. It’s been difficult to identify exactly what Fred is. Barry Schwartz analyzed some of the sites that were hit by Fred, and has since concluded that Fred most likely targeted sites that seem to have been built purely to farm AdSense dollars – so little content, too many ads, etc.
As for the ridiculous name – Gary Illyes replied that webmasters could call this update (and every future update) “Fred,” as a joke. He was pointing out that not every major shift needs or deserves a name, and that Google changes their algorithm all the time. This has sparked a conversation about the SEO industry and how it understands Google.
For years, webmasters have watched for the major updates to drop and the common perception has been that anything in between isn’t worth worrying about – not because it doesn’t matter but because it’s impossible to follow.
Martinibuster writes on WebmasterWorld,
“…is [Gary Illyes] (and Mueller) telling the truth, this isn’t really an update but just a tweak in the algo? My feeling about it is that how the SEO industry believes the search engines work and how the search engines actually work sometimes differ. I don’t believe in thinking in terms of ‘updates’ is an accurate representation of how search engine algorithms actually function and that the concept of ‘updates’ might introduce a confusion of what is really going on.”
What do you think?
Don’t Go to Conferences to Learn SEO
Pierre Benneton has a great thread up on SEO Chat – perfect for people wondering “How exactly do I learn SEO, anyway?” In his opinion, conferences are not the best places for newbies to start their journeys. Conferences can be great for networking and learning about the latest news, but not for finding a classroom for SEO.
“…most of the time people that participate in such meetings go there with a paper and a pen and write down everything they can instead of trying to understand what the subject really is, they generally end up copying the strategy used as an example instead of analyzing what their company website really needs…”
Pierre writes. He adds,
“…even a 3-hour class is much too short to really be able to understand all aspects of SEO…”
There are other things that make conferences less than ideal learning environments, too – if you’re a total newbie, chances are you won’t be able to follow a really good, in-depth talk even if you found one. Speakers also go to conferences to sell their products, so it can be hard for newbies to separate the marketing from the real tips.
Chedders adds “You learn SEO by actively doing it, there is nothing that can replace experience in this game. Solid testing and adjusting as the goal posts move.”
What Are Likes Worth? A Facebook Page Field Experiment
What’s the real value of a like? You can get an idea in this Cre8asiteforums thread! “Likes have always been worthless and once one could buy a zillion for $5.00 became even more so,” writes iamlost. “FB shares, on the other hand, do have some value although not as much in the past.
The best is a comment/testimonial that gets shared as compared to a simple share button click.” Facebook in general might not be as important as some marketers think it is, writes earlpearl: “It is interesting that FB essentially hides how many visitors actually visit your business page. Not many. Barely a few. So many likes, so much ‘visibility’ or whatever they call it. So little interaction…”
Know Your Digital Privacy Rights (Or Lack Thereof) When Border Crossing
Let’s end with this neat little story on Cre8asiteforums. At border crossings around the United States, it’s not just your physical privacy that will be invaded – it’s your digital privacy as well. Officers might ask for your social media handles, access to cloud content, log in credentials, or more to figure out who your friends are and why you’re entering the country.
This is new, largely uncharted territory for many people. While the rules are undefined, it’s kind of an “anything goes” situation. But you do have rights, and you can learn a little about them here.