This Month in Search, March 2017

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Good afternoon, it’s been a turbulent month in the World of online visibility and importantly in search. Below I have highlighted the important updates for March 2017, these are from a search perspective and everyone should be aware of them.

  1. Well let’s start with the big news of the month! Google’s all new ‘Fred’ algorithm update sent waves through the SEO community in the week commencing March 6th.  Webmasters were left wondering exactly what had transpired as there were large alterations and changes in the Google index.As is often the case with these larger updates, Google declined to comment publicly however, the SEO community have now labelled this update as the ‘Fred’ update after a post from Googles Gary Illyes saying all future updates should be labelled as ‘Fred’ updates.Gary Illyes went on to explain further on March 23rd at SMX, that the ‘Fred’ update was actually focused on quality within the Google webmaster guidelines. Subsequently, there were a number of large websites that reported significant decreases across the Google network.Later in the month, Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land reviewed the results from over 70 separate websites that seemed to have been affected by the ‘Fred’ update. From these the vast majority had two characteristics in common. They were either heavy on their ad placement or mainly content driven and therefore one could be drawn to saying that they were created specifically to earn money from Adsense rather than providing any user benefit. Google has consistently tried to target exactly this type of website.
  1. After numerous, high profile attacks on Google by the Worlds news core with reference to offensive content, Google has now launched a strategy to first better identify potentially offensive content and subsequently not to actually remove it but to flag it as offensive and therefore make it easier for Google to not provide it within their search queries.
  1. The next item to be aware of is to do with Googles site search functionality. During March 2017, Google announced that as from April 1st 2017 they will discontinue the site search service and that from 1st April 2018 this service would be removed all together.
  1. Finally, March 2017 saw the announcement from Google that exact match word targeting within their Adwords system would be further diluted by ignoring the word order and by adding function words. You may therefore ask “what are function words?”. Function words are linking words within sentences, such as ‘the’ and ‘this’, along with conjunction words such as ‘but’ and ‘and’. After the removal of the introduced ‘close variants’ in 2014 then exact match and phrase match targeting became less defined anyway.

This about winds things up for March and therefore we look forward to the adventures that April and the better weather brings!

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