Beat Your Dread of Google’s “Fred” Update by Cleaning Up Your Site Structure (Part 2)

If you were hit by Google’s “Fred” update or are just concerned that a future algorithm update will decimate your traffic, then take action now to ensure your site provides a high quality experience to the user. In Part 1 of our focus on Fred, we talked about ads and links, and how it’s critical to use them in ways that add value and depth to the user experience.

In today’s post, we’ll turn to the structural quality of your site, which is also key in making sure that users can easily enjoy all the great content you have to offer.

Duplicate pages: Manage your search footprint – less is more.

There’s a good chance that if you remove duplicate pages, headlines and content, your rankings will begin to quickly recover.

Keep in mind that your crawl budget is one of your most precious commodities. Every link, including JavaScript, CSS, images, meta data such as canonical tags, hreflang etc. all have to be crawled by Google. So, the last thing you want to do is make the search engine’s job harder with near duplicate pages or pages that don’t add value to customers.

The perfect example of duplicate affiliate content that is now being penalized thanks to Google’s Fred update are “deal of the day” sites that create multiple pages for a given product that’s a “deal” and changes only the price and provider. Which page will Google index? 

Now, multiply that by however many deals/products/categories the site has, and now your site soon becomes unmanageable. This is a fast way to dilute any value to the user.

Take action:

-For deal sites and others that present duplicate information/products with small changes (i.e. price, retailer), consolidate duplicate pages into a single useful page that provides the content once (specs, description, images, etc…) and shows the differentiating factors.

-Check what Google indexes for your site by doing a site:yourwebsitename.com check. Are there pages listed that don’t belong there? Delete them. And Wordpress users, double check that you don’t have tag pages or archives indexed.

-Look at Google Search Console HTML suggestions and check to see if there are any complaints from Google about duplication or missing titles -- and if there are, fix those problems immediately.

Avoid creating pages by keywords - this can get redundant, fast!

Structured Data: Take care in devising your site map

It takes a lot of effort to structure a site in a way that makes it easy to browse. Taking the easy way out by providing a very top level category structure and placing all items under there makes it much harder for Google (and users) to find their way around your site -- and that becomes a big problem for you.

For a search engine to understand an item, it needs context. Structured information such as item specifications help provide this, but your site’s structure, taxonomy and internal linking play a major role, too.

Can you guess the mystery product based on the example site taxonomy below?

Which site seems more relevant for an iPhone 7?

You can’t expect Google to find your pages if you don’t link to them or if you’re providing nothing more than a set of your own keyword-based search results pages.

Take action:

-Make sure taxonomies, like tags and categories, are included in your XML sitemap.

-While you’re at it, be sure that what’s listed in your sitemaps is what you want AND is valuable to the user. Google is doing their best to make sure their searches provide users with quality results. Fred is just one in a line of updates that are focused on improving the user experience, so take action now to make sure you’re following its example and making sure visitors to your site get awesome information, great recommendations and a visually enjoyable overall experience. Not only will it improve your rankings now, but it will help ensure the future of your website -- and your business.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Search Engine Roundtable: Google Fred Update Targets Ad Heavy, Low Value Content Sites

The SEM Post: Google’s Fred Algo is a New Type of Quality Algo

Fat Joe: The Google Fred Update – What It’s Targeting And How To Fix it.

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