There is a slightly under-the-radar Google algorithm update sweeping the SEO community. The update has severely impacted many websites across the internet. We wanted to pass along information about what this update means and how you can avoid being negatively impacted.

Algorithm name

Unofficially named “Fred” by the SEO community

Potential impact

50%-90% loss in traffic to websites effected

When did this Google algorithm change happen?

First wave March 7th and second wave March 13th

Why did it happen? 

The SEO community is currently under the impression that the new algorithm is primarily focused with penalizing websites for heavy ad usage. That said, we have also seen websites penalized that don’t have ads but that do heavily use call-to-action overlays. This implies that the algorithm may be penalizing the general over usage of intrusive content.

Is this the mobile interstitial algorithm change? 

It does not appear to be. The mobile interstitial algorithm change happened in January. Additionally, current traffic drops being experienced across the internet are happening to both mobile and desktop which isn’t how the January update impacted websites. Regardless, it’s clear with these last two algorithm updates that Google is beginning to draw a line in the sand regarding what it deems acceptable for ad, interstitial, and CTA usage.

How does this particular algorithm change impact websites?

We believe part of the new algorithm has to do with the ratio of total ad/CTA space vs. content space displayed to a user. This is particularly important for sticky navs, banners, and social links that cover page content on an ongoing basis. If a website’s ratio leans too heavily toward ads and CTAs than it may be at risk for being penalized.

Can their traffic be salvaged?

Based on some industry chatter it sounds like recovery is possible but these types of situations tend to vary wildly website-to-website and industry-to-industry. The first step of recovery is to remove the intrusive content from the website. You can then use Google Webmaster Tools to resubmit the site and force a recrawl. Lastly, monitor analytics to track the result of the changes implemented. 

How do I know if my website was impacted?

Double-check your organic traffic during the dates listed above to be sure. If a large reduction is noticed determine what content could be causing the algorithm penalty to trigger and have that content removed. Moving forward, you’ll need to make sure to keep an eye on organic traffic after any new CTA or ad launches.