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Episode 6 - April 6, 2017
Light Version

This is another packed episode. We'll talk about some possible algorithm updates over the last two weeks as well as the latest on the "Fred" Algorithm update. I'll share with you two things that you may be doing that could cause you problems with Google's mobile interstitial algorithm as well as some cool keyword research tips. There are also really good things in here for people with small businesses.

In this episode:

In the full (paid version):

Paid members this week also get the following:

  • Information on two different things that many sites are doing that could cause demotion in Google's mobile interstitial algorithm.
  • Information on something you may be including in your sitemap that doesn't need to be there.
  • Some really cool stuff on how to get pages and new sites indexed and ranking really quickly.
  • Information that every business with a local presence needs to know about the Knowledge graph.
  • A neat tip on ways to find new content to write about that is currently in demand.

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Were there significant algorithm updates on March 30th and April 4?

Who is this for?



Barry Schwartz reported that all of the rank trackers like MozCast, Algoroo, etc. noticed a huge amount of turbulence around March 30, 2017. However, there really hasn't been much talk on Twitter or in search forums about sites seeing major changes.

We think that the rank trackers were all noticing turbulence because Google increased the number of Knowledge Panels and Related Questions.


Also, it looks like something significant happened on April 4th as well. Glen Gabe tweeted today that he is seeing some sites that were affected by Fred on March 7 that seemed to have a mild reversal on April 4th:


I didn't notice anything obvious with the sites that I monitor.

The latest on "Fred"

I wrote a lengthy writeup last episode on what we knew about Fred so far. On March 7, we saw a lot of low quality sites that saw massive drops in rankings. There was a lot of discussion in the black hat forums about sites being hit.

This week, Gary Illyes commented that when SEOs were talking about a big algorithm change on March 7, there actually were several updates happening at the same time.


This is not surprising as Google has said recently that they often release two or three changes to the algorithm in one day.

It has been two weeks since I wrote my thoughts on Fred and I have seen a number of sites that were of decent quality but still saw a mild drop that starts in early March.

Some blackhats are theorizing that Google made tweaks to Penguin at the same time:


I didn't personally see any obvious changes in sites that had been previously affected by Penguin. However, many of the blackhats are saying that they feel that there was an update in early March in Google's ability to devalue many Private Blog Network links.

Now that we are past the days of definitive Panda and Penguin updates, it probably doesn't matter to most of us what Fred is all about as the answer for recovery is almost always to find ways to improve the quality of your site. Still, if you were hit in early March, you are probably looking for as much information as you can get on what types of things need to be improved upon.

If you are trying to rank a low quality site based on PBN's, then I don't have much advice for you. But, if you were a legitimate business that saw a drop in early March, then I really would focus on doing all that you can to make your site the best possible option for Google to show searchers.


Some information on the keyword stuffing algorithm

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Google has an algorithm that is designed to recognize keyword stuffing on a website. We don't know exactly how it works. I once did an experiment where I took a page that ranked near the bottom of page 1 and then I stuffed the heck out of my main keyword. In other words, I added that keyword about a hundred times in the text. It looked awful. I hypothesized that it would drop in rankings. Instead, it went up three places.

So, obviously Google doesn't look at things simply and say, "Ah, there is xx% keyword density on this page so we will penalize it." It is likely quite a bit more complicated than that.

John Mueller said something interesting in a hangout recently:

"Focusing on keyword density is probably not a good use of your time. Focusing too much on keyword density makes it look like your content is unnatural and makes it hard for users to read and search engines generally recognize that fairly quickly and say, 'Oh...this guy is just trying to keyword stuff their pages and therefore we will just ignore this keyword completely on this website.'"

I find that quite interesting. If you have pages where you just can't seem to get any rankings for a particular keyword, it may be worthwhile to try drastically reducing the number of times it is mentioned and see if that helps.

The keyword stuffing algorithm is one that reruns every time Google crawls your pages. As such, if you are suppressed and you remove a bunch of keywords, then the next time Google crawls your page you should see an improvement. It's quite an easy thing to test.

Recommended Reading

Do we still need to disavow in the era of Penguin 4.0 

This is a post I wrote for the Moz blog this week. Now that Penguin no longer demotes sites, we likely don't need to be doing as much disavowing. You should still be disavowing if you have low quality links that are obviously there for SEO reasons. The main reason for this is to avoid a manual action. The article also discusses whether or not we should be trying to reavow links - and how to do it.

Why Is This [BLEEP]er Outranking Me in the Google Maps Results?

This article goes over possible reasons why a competitor is outranking you. It's a really good read. It's meant for local SEOs but really, anyone can benefit from reading this article.

SEO in 2017: Proven Content Ideas That Attract Backlinks

By Glenn Allsopp from on the Smart Passive Income site. This is a great post on ideas for creating great stuff that people will actually want to link to.

SEO Agencies Receiving Emails Threatening Negative SEO, DDoS Attacks

By Bill Hartzer. This is a scary read about an email that some SEOs are getting whereby an anonymous group is trying to blackmail SEOs into paying them a fee in order to avoid a negative SEO attack. If this were to happy to me, I wouldn't worry too much about someone pointing links to my site as I could just disavow them (and really, Google's algorithms should just ignore them.) However, a DDoS attack could mean a real loss in business.

How to Get Your Emails Delivered to the Gmail Primary Tab Easily

If you do email marketing at all, this is a great read. If your subscribers are using Gmail, you really don't want your email to end up in their promotional tab. The author of this article did some experiments and came to the conclusion that you have a much better chance of avoiding the promotional tab if you avoid sending a heavy HTML email and also if you take it easy on including images, links and prices.

How To Fetch & Render (Almost) Any Site

This is a really cool post on the Screaming Frog site. They discovered that you can use Google's fetch and render as Googlebot to see how Googlebot renders any site simply by creating a page on your site that calls the page you want to render in an iframe. That's a pretty cool hack.


Want more?

Paid subscribers of my newsletter received lots of additional information this week including the following:

  • Some practical tips on helping you figure out if your comments section is being seen by Google and helping or hurting your rankings.
  • Info on 404 pages and how to clean them up.
  • How to determine whether the Page Layout Algorithm could be hurting you.
  • A crazy situation where Google was indexing the wrong version of a site which almost stopped all visitors from reaching the business.
  • A neat way to get good, helpful links to eCommerce stores.

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