Google Changes

Google’s Fred and Owl Updates Change up SEO

Google Changes

2 Major Google Algorithm Updates are Changing Up the SEO World

Fred Google Update

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


Google rolls out an estimated 600 updates annually, but one in particular has caught the attention of the SEO world. The Fred Update (a name which was jokingly suggested by Google’s Gary Illyes and has since been adopted by the SEO community) is reportedly targeted towards spam links. The word around town is that Black Hat SEO communities have been hit by the update, supporting the theory of its intent. 

Black hat SEO refers to aggressive techniques designed to game search engine results 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 if you would like to educate yourself. 


Here are five things you can do to see if you were affected by the update, and more importantly, to recover any lost rankings and traffic

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

2) Divide your content into the high-quality and updated versus the 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) Start improving your content quality right away. Begin with editing and improving existing content and updating any old information. Focus your attentions first on cornerstone pages that were drawing in the most traffic pre-Fred (see number 3).

5) Use a backlink spam audit tool to find any questionable backlinks that may have been dragging you down. Also, ensure that your remaining “good” backlinks are included in a natural way and don’t oversaturate your page. For example, follow to no follow ratios, similarities in anchor text, etc. are all factors that Google takes into account when determining the value of your backlinks.

Learn more about effective link building strategies for 2018.



Owl Google Update

Google launched major changes on 25 April to fight fake news and hate speech that have detrimentally impacted search results.

The Google algorithm update nicknamed “Project Owl” gives consumers two new ways to report any issues with organic search results. It is perhaps the biggest step in recent times to integrate big data, machine learning and direct human (or end user) feedback.

Why is Google making changes?

Google has recently been caught up in controversies due to certain search results displaying false, offensive, or outrageous information about certain topics. There was one time, for example, when queries relating to the Holocaust displayed links to pro-Nazi sites. Additionally, when users started typing questions relating to women or racial groups, Google would suggest queries like “Why are women so dumb?”

Needless to say, this earned Google a lot of negative press and complaints from activists. This means that the latest algorithm update isn’t a 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 means smaller or newer businesses won’t be dominated by major brands who are blogging on the same topic. Instead, the quality of your content is what will put you above the pack. 


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

Blogging and content creation (such as this post itself) form a critical part of the white hat SEO strategy used by Digital Squad. Despite being subject matter experts, business owners often find that they do not have the time to write content themselves. To address this, we work with a team of 20 content writers, authors and bloggers who are specialists across various 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 recent times due to the Fred or Owl updates, talk to Digital Squad, a leading digital marketing agency Singapore.

We provide a complementary site audit (all manually done in house usually across two 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!)

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Effective Link Building Strategies for 2018

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