Monday Morning Recap (March 7th – March 13th)

Google Makes The SEO Industry Tremble With ‘Fred,’ An Unconfirmed And New Ranking Update

Many in the SEO community seem to think that Google applied a ranking update to its algorithm. Webmasters have certainly noticed changes, and automated tools that track Google provide hard evidence pointing towards confirmation of this belief.

It all dates back to the morning of March 8. Since that time, many involved in the SEO industry have been keeping their eyes on a ranking update from Google that, as of time of writing, is unconfirmed by the search engine giant. What seems to be happening though is that Google now puts more target emphasis on the aspects of link quality than it previously did.

Many members of the industry are now calling this update Fred, which is a name that we decided to start using as well. The origin for this name is Gary Illyes from Google. He once joked that every update be called Fred, so the suggestion is at least sticking for this particular one.

We’ve noticed a lot of chatter within the ‘black hat’ corner of the SEO industry, particularly about many reports of changes to their efforts. That seems to suggest that this algorithm update focuses on spam links. This falls in line with what we reported in the early part of last month, when there was also an unconfirmed update from Google that seemed to focus on spam.

The February 7 update from Google included an also unconfirmed update regarding content quality. That update was a large one, as was discovered even though Google does not confirm their algorithm updates much any more. Still, when search results show a large shift that implies an algorithm update, we’ll continue reporting anything of note.

Common indicators of updates include substantial fluctuations and volatility, as reported by the automatic tracking tools. This data, combined with industry chatter from webmasters suddenly upset or rejoicing about their respective declines or promotions in the rankings, makes it highly likely a Google update happened.

We’re still waiting on Google to actually comment. At the moment, all we have to go on is the usual comments we get from individuals like Gary Illyes or John Mueller that Google does updates all the time.

Farewell DMOZ: The Doors Are Closing For The Open Directory Project

Once March 14th rolls around on the calendar, DMOZ is not going to be available any longer.

DMOZ, which is The Open Directory Project where a crew of human editors have been organizing websites, is shutting down. The endeavor marked a period of time where people, and not technology, attempted to organize the World Wide Web.

That announcement came through a notice now up on DMOZ’s home page, announcing the date and the closure:

DMOZ started in June of 1998, although it was named GnuHoo back then. That was promptly changed to NewHoo, which at the time tried to rival the more well-known Yahoo Directory. Back then, Yahoo took a lot of flak for being overly powerful and even too challenging for many websites to get listed within.

Netscape acquired it in November of 1998, when it was renamed again, becoming the Netscape Open Directory. That very same month, AOL got their hands on Netscape, which gave them full control over The Open Directory.

Google was also a birth product of that year, and that started the beginning of the end of all human curation over websites. Google brought with it the capacity of searching every relevant Internet page which had previously only been possible through human labor.

Yahoo itself eventually changed gears and focused on machine-manufactured results instead of human results. As such, it kept moving its directory more and more behind the scenes. The closure of its directory was a news headline in September of 2014, although the actual event didn’t happen until December of that year. These days, the old site is completely unresponsive.

DMOZ forged ahead, even though searchers and marketers have largely forgotten it as a viable or useful resource. The only real thing of note in today’s news regarding the closure is that it actually took so long for it to happen.

There is one distinct way that DMOZ will continue to live on, and that’s the NOODP meta tag. That was one way that content publishers could tell search engines like Google to avoid describing their websites using the descriptions found in the Open Directory. The tag is now redundant, or will be so soon, but it’s also going to lurk in the code of websites for some years ahead.

Google Aims For End Of 2017 To Sunset Google Site Search

We’ve found out that Google is letting Site Search customers know that the time is coming where they need a new internal search engine solution or service.

Search Engine Land has confirmed with Google that the tech giant is going to discontinue support for the product called Google Site Search. It’s a paid service that gives webmasters the chance to power their internal search engine with something based on Google technology. The charges Google levies are based on the total monthly query volume through the product.

Google indicates that they’re directing clients to either a new cloud search product or an ad-powered variant. The company plans to stop their full support of Google Site Search by this year’s fourth quarter.

Search Engine Land published the following statement issued from a Google spokesperson:

We are winding down the Google Site Search product over the next year, but will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements. For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, we are providing a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site. GSS customers may also take advantage of our Custom Search Engine solution, an ads-supported model that offers similar functionality. We continue to build out new functionality and invest in new technology that make enterprise search a great experience for our customers. Just recently, we introduced the general availability of Google Cloud Search for G Suite customers.

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