Anyone who has any kind of experience in the SEO world will know about googles virtual zoo. Penguins, pandas, and even hummingbirds can be found within its digital walls. But sometimes new characters appears.. Meet Fred!
Fred is the unofficial name being given to the latest Google update that is somewhat of the hot topic in the industry right now. It was unexpected and has caused serious ranking fluctuations in many different verticals. To be honest, while there is much speculation there is no concrete evidence as to what Fred actually is at the moment.
But here is what we know so far.
It’s Probably Spam Related.
We have seen most of the discussion (and moaning) coming from various blackhat forums, which usually means its spam related. While it has affected whitehat SEOs, it certainly seems to have hurt (or annoyed) the blackhat community more.
Google Haven’t Said Anything.
This is not unusual, but there has been no comment from Google that an update have taken place. We only got the usual “we make thousands of updates a year, blah blah blah”.
So What About PBNs
With the data available to us at the moment, here is our educated guess as to what Fred actually is.
It looks like this is a somewhat PBN related update, but not in the “traditional” sense of the word. A PBN is a private blog network, whereas we think this update has targeted “public blog networks”.
Public blog networks are private blog networks that are sold to the public (mainly on BlackHatWorld). If you have ever seen an advert that allows you to buy links on someone elses PBN, in our opinion it’s a public blog network.
We think this is manual spam action taken by Googles team against PBN sellers instead of an update that affects all PBNs. If Google were to punish all PBNs it would mean that they would diminish the value of links. That’s not the case here.
If I were Google I would just go to BHW, purchase the largest package from every PBN reseller and deindex those sites. It’s not rocket science, costly or time consuming.
Alot of the PBN packages from BlackHatWorld we are tracking have been deindexed.
Regardless of what people are going to admit publically, many of the whitehat SEOs are using their own PBNs. They make them, then use them carefully, don’t advertise their existence, and use them sparingly – but they are used by “whitehats”.
If this was a general PBN update we would be seeing lots of chatter in the whitehat SEO community too. And while we admit it’s certainly being talked about, we feel it’s not been moaned about enough to be a general update.
So we feel here Google has just gone after the easy low hanging fruit of the BlackHatWorld marketplace. It would cost Google a few thousand dollars and a basic scraper to discover, penalize, and deindex most of the networks advertised on the forum.
While this update will not solve Googles private blog network problem, it makes the public blog network option much less viable. Which ultimately results in fewer people gaming their algorithms maliciously.
When the dust has settled, we will be able to tell you with a little more certainty what this update is about.