This day in search marketing history: March 9

This day in search marketing history: March 9

Google’s Fred update, plus: people also ask, personalization, Google puts bad merchants on notice and more.

Happy Frediversary

In 2017, there were strong signs of a Google algorithm ranking update that had actually started on March 7.

At first, it seemed to be a spam algorithm update related to links. However, a later Search Engine Land analysis of Fred indicated that the update targeted low-value content sites that put revenue above helping their users – and that many affected sites saw up to a 90% drop in traffic.

Many called this the Fred Update, which came from Google’s Gary Illyes, who had jokingly suggested that all updates be named “Fred.” It stuck with this update.

Illyes wouldn’t confirm Fred until SMX West on March 23, when he said the update targeted specific techniques that were well-documented within the Google webmaster guidelines. Though he didn’t elaborate on which guidelines specifically were targeted by the Fred update.

Read about it in New, unconfirmed Google ranking update ‘Fred’ shakes the SEO world.

Also on this day

How Google search personalization works: Professors and politicians just don’t understand

2022: Google has told us how search works. We know plenty about how it works. But a professor seemed confused about search personalization.

Google Hotel search showing free listings in results

2021: Google opened the door to more hotels by offering free hotel listings, separate from paid results. 

Google My Business tells businesses affected by the coronavirus to update listings

2020: You could update your business hours, description, phone number and even add Google Posts.

Google people also ask boxes not showing as often now?

2020: RankRanger said the people also ask was showing for 40% of queries, down from 52% of queries.

Google Search is showing YouTube Music links on album queries

2020: On mobile, the link appeared in the “Listen” carousel of streaming music services; on desktop, it appeared within a list of streaming services in the album’s knowledge panel.

Reddit’s new ‘Trending Takeover’ ad unit lets brands appear on top of Popular feed, Search tab

2020: The ad unit had a campaign life of 24 hours and was designed to align brands with the most popular and relevant trends of the day.

Video: Fili Wiese, an SEO that used to work in Google search quality

2020: A number of topics were discussed, including managing Google penalties, how Google penalizes websites, the disavow link tool and nofollow link attribute.

Google My Business adds ‘women-led’ icon & attribute to business listings

2018: After adding the attribute, a “women-led” icon would appear in the business attributes section of their business listing.

Google tests showing answers under ‘people also ask’ feature

2018: Instead of just showing additional questions people might ask around a query you entered into the search results, Google was testing showing a snippet of the answer directly below the question.

Search in Pics: Craig Newmark at Google, Snow at NYC office & Women @ Google cupcake

2018: The latest images showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Google adds emoji & GIF suggestions, translations & more to GBoard for Android

2017: Android users gained access to emoji and GIF suggestions as they typed and the ability to share GIFs in supported apps.

RIP Google PageRank score: A retrospective on how it ruined the web

2016: While Google would remove PageRank scores from public view in the coming weeks, the way those scores dramatically reshaped the web remained.

Google begins massive migrations of their blogs from to

2016: The reason: to help users understand that these were official blogs managed and operated by Google.

Destinations on Google delivers new travel planning experience for mobile users

2016: A mobile search for a continent, country or state, along with the word “destination” or “vacation,” would return a series of travel options.

Google Says They May Flag Broken Security Certificates In The Search Results

2015: Google’s Gary Illyes also said that Google was working on possibly boosting the ranking of secure login pages even more than they did with the normal HTTPS ranking boost.

EU Settlement Nearly Done, Google Antitrust Drama Shifts To India

2014: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had the power to impose a fine of up 10% annual revenues, averaged over a three year period.

Bad Merchant? Google May Drop Your Rankings Later This Year

2013: Google didn’t want low-quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.

“Trulia Suggests” Search Results Without Searching

2013: Trulia Suggests took a range of data from users’ interactions with the site and to offer personalized home recommendations.

Pew Report: 65% View Personalized Search As Bad; 73% See It As Privacy Invasion

2012: Even though personalized search had been the norm at Google for over two years and at Bing for just over a year.

Search In Pics: Google Fish, Yahoo 17th Birthday & Googlighting Tie

2012: The latest images showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Federal Appeals Court Allows Keyword Bidding On Competitor’s Names

2011: A California federal court ruled that it is allowed to bid on a competitor’s name for search ads.

Microsoft AdCenter Intros Quality Score That Mimics Google’s

2011: Microsoft said scores wouldn’t directly influence how ads were ranked – it was more of a reflection of how well the ads were performing in the marketplace.

Blekko Blocks More “Spam” Domains: 1.1 Million Of Them

2011: Search engine was using a new system it called “AdSpam.”

Twitter Awareness At 92%, But Usage Just A Fraction Of That

2011: Research suggested that most Americans were well aware of Twitter … they just weren’t using it.

Search Technology Behind iPad Magazine “Zite”

2011: The iPad app used the same search and machine learning capabilities developed by Worio to create a personalized magazine that got “smarter” as you used it.

Twitter Gets Its Own URL Shortener To Stop Scams; Good Marketers Need Not Fear

2010: Twitter: “routing all links submitted to Twitter through this new service, we can detect, intercept, and prevent the spread of bad links across all of Twitter.”

New MSN Out Of Beta, Driving Nearly 50 Percent Of Bing Queries

2010: Microsoft formally launched its much improved MSN portal.

Math Engines: For Multiplying Mixed Fractions, It’s Wolfram Alpha Over Google & Bing

2010: Wolfram Alpha proved useful for the multiplication of fractions.

Google Image Search Adds “Exact Size” Advanced Search Option

2009: Google Image search added an option to the advanced search page to enter in the exact image size you are looking for.

Google Searching For Energy Solutions Because “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

2009: “It’s also good for our business because we’re in the information business. And a lot of the energy solutions involve a lot of information…”

California State Legislator Wants To Limit Info On Maps To Block Terrorists

2009: Satellite images of schools, places of worship, government buildings and medical facilities would need to be blurred.

Former Yahoo Engineer Charged As Alleged Terrorist In India

2009: He was allegedly the “media chief” of the Indian Mujahideen, a terror group charged with the September 2008 bombings in Delhi.

Stealth Tour Of Google Audio’s Dallas Office

2007: Documenting an undercover tour of a Google office in Dallas, Texas that appeared to be the new home of the Google Audio group.

Google Asked To Remove “Mount Hitler” From Google Maps

2007: Google Germany called this a “technical accident.”

Former Microsoft Search Chief Bill Bliss On Early Search Missteps

2007: “Microsoft could have been the one to buy Inktomi and Overture instead of Yahoo, and the world would be much different now for both companies.”

Revamped My Yahoo Launches Amid Intensifying Competition

2007: There were a number of improvements and upgrades.

Nokia Jumps Into Mobile Ads With “Nokia Ad Service” Program

2007: Plus a “white label” Nokia Advertising Connector a program for others who want to run mobile ad programs.

UFO Crawler: The Truth Is Out There & Searchable

2007: IBM and Yahoo teamed up on UFOCrawler, a search engine about finding sources on “UFO Sightings, time travel, conspiracy theories and anomalies.”

From Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

  • Meet The Search Engines: Up Close @SMX West 2015
  • Meet The SEOs: Up Close @SMX West 2015
  • The Farmer/Panda Update: New Information From Google and The Latest from SMX West 2011
  • SMX West 2011 Day Two Recap

Past contributions from Search Engine Land’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

These columns are a snapshot in time and have not been updated since publishing, unless noted. Opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

  • 2022: Dear Google: It’s time to remove Russian propaganda from search results by Olya Ianovskaia
  • 2020: 13 stories of women who are shaping the SEO field by Diana Ford
  • 2020: Case Study: How UGC increased organic traffic 228% by Abby Gleason
  • 2018: Is a 301 or 302 redirect best for SEO? by Bryson Meunier
  • 2018: 7 marketing and promotion tactics to get your content discovered by Kristopher Jones
  • 2017: Mobile page speed is important, but not (yet) for SEO by Bryson Meunier
  • 2017: 10 ways to improve your business locators by Adam Dorfman
  • 2016: Reverse-engineering AdWords Quality Score factors by Brad Geddes
  • 2016: Brand Bidding & PPC Optimization: Partner Relationships (Part 4 of 8) by Lori Weiman
  • 2016: Calculating the value of organic traffic by Clay Cazier
  • 2015: SEO Nightmare: When NoIndex Goes Bad by Eric Enge
  • 2012: The Ultimate Secret For Successful Marketing & Web Design by Kim Krause Berg
  • 2012: Work Smart, Not Hard – An Introduction To Google Analytics Dashboards by Carrie Hill
  • 2012: Four Seriously Cool Information Resources by Gary Price
  • 2011: B2B Lead Generation Tips Part II by Patricia Hursh
  • 2011: Why Brand Trumps ROI: 3 Tips To Build Your Brand Online by Matias Wigozki
  • 2011: Using Influence To Tune Signal To Noise On The Social Web by Rishab Ghosh
  • 2011: An Alternative To Ranking Reports by Conrad Saam
  • 2011: Building Empathy For Googlebot by Brian Massey
  • 2010: Social Engagement: Making Content Interactive by Jordan Kasteler
  • 2010: My Dream International Content Management System by Andy Atkins-Krüger
  • 2010: 71 Technical Factors For Backlink Analysis (From 30 Link Building Experts) – Part 2 by Garrett French
  • 2009: How We Manage SEM Budgets (And Expectations) At Yahoo by David Roth
  • 2009: Harness The Power Of Twitter For Local Marketing by Chris Silver Smith
  • 2009: Paid Search Automation: Choosing A Vendor by Andrew Goodman
  • 2007: The Pros & Cons Of Personalized Search by Gord Hotchkiss

< March 8 | Search Marketing History | March 10 >

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