Fred Does Not Like Automated Sites

  • 5th April 2017
  • SEO
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For anybody who hasn’t been following, we launched a site called Zebo which was a project to try and get automated pages ranking in Google. We achieved that aim as you can see by our Six Month Case Study.

It seems however, that Google has decided that with their Fred update they would lower the traffic to Zebo. Here’s a chart showing the traffic:

So, we’ve been trying to see what we can do to make this better. The one difference I’ve seen is that our drop is not overnight, you can see it’s gradual from the beginning of March. So there’s an option of it being Fred or something else entirely.

So, after seeing this seroundtable article I gave myself a fun task, to delve through the quality guidelines and highlight every single one of the things that Zebo was not doing and how we could deal with it.

 

So, sorry for the very image article, but here is every single thing that I found that our comparison site could be even remotely close to breaking.

Example page they link:

 

 

 

 

So, after a long read, here’s a summary of what our plan of action is. I’ll paste the individual image next to it just so you can save yourself a scroll.

 

Auto Generated With Little Attempt To Help Users

Why this applies to us:

We auto generate all of our content, we have the ability to do any product on a large variety of sites. We have no manual curation process. Looking at it from an external (automated) point of view, we have no “added value” currently, we are just listing products and providing a store filter, that is it currently.

What we’re going to do: 

This is technically difficult one, I would personally like to bring in some kind of ordering system, such as sorting by lowest/highest price as well as relevancy. We are going to be experimenting also with the number of products we bring from larger sites (eBay and Amazon) so that we are still being relevant and offering quality not just trying to match the term.

6.1 Low Quality Main Content

Why this applies to us:

There’s a couple of things here that could be relevant to us. Primarily:

  • Failing to cite sources, or making up sources where none exist.
  • Filling the report with large pictures or other distracting content.

Honestly, the sources could perhaps be achieved by linking direct to amazon or ebay etc, however we then lose a lot of our control over tracking. Currently they’re going to zebo.co.uk/out/. The majority of our pages are images of products and their text/price. We fill a lot of the page with product images, so perhaps we need to look at reducing the image size?

What we’re going to do: 

The honest answer here is that we’re not entirely sure. We can work on other ways of generating content on a large scale and test image sizes for conversion, as ultimately our goal is to produce something that works well for the user. Annoyingly we have to get it ranking in Google first to actually get something good for the user.

6.4 Negative Reputation

Why this applies to us:

Putting it simply, we have no reputation. We have no social presence and the only mentions we have are SEO articles, which aren’t really good things to base reputation research off. The key part that stuck out for me is “The lack of any reputation information at all for a YMYL website may be a reason for a Low rating”

What we’re going to do: 

Putting it simply, we’re going to be trying to get reviews, we’ll be reaching out to people who run blogs around saving money and asking them to review our site. This works for a few reasons:

  1. We get a mention with an audience that may be interested in using our platform.
  2. We get a honest review of our website, any and all advice is appreciated as neither Chris or I are very design savvy.
  3. We might get a link, which is always a nice thing to have.
  4. We get our name out there a tiny bit more and we become that little bit more known.

The other thing that hopefully will happen is that someone starts a Wikipedia article about Zebo.

6.5.1 Unsatisfying Amount of Information about the Website

Why this applies to us:

Our about page, whilst it has a lot of words it’s not the best it can be. As you can see from here:

What we’re going to do: 

We’re going to try and expand our about page. I’ll get a copywriter to fill out what we have at the minute. I feel it’s right to be honest and open about these sites, they’re not full time sites and we need to show that.

7.3.2 Deceptive Page Design

Why this applies to us:

This I believe may be the biggest problem, when someone lands on our site our design looks like a category page, meaning that someone may expect if they click on a product they will be taken through to a product page.

What we’re going to do: 

We need to make sure it is obvious that they are going to be taken through to an external site. For example, we need to integrate (as per the Amazon Associates Agreement, that’s a whole different story) that near every price that it’s correct as of date/time page was generated. So if we do this well, we may be able to make it obvious they’re going to a different site and meet this part of the Amazon agreement.

7.4 Lowest Quality Main Content

Why this applies to us:

A couple of these could possibly apply to us, specifically the auto generated. Thankfully the guidelines go into a bit more detail so you’ll see it below.

What we’re going to do: 

I’ll break this out individually below.

7.4.2 “Keyword Stuffed” Main Content

Why this applies to us:

As we match based on search term, our content is naturally going to be heavy in similarly matched keywords.

What we’re going to do: 

Hopefully, we’ll be able to generate enough unique content and provide value in different ways where this isn’t an issue.

7.4.3 Automatically-Generated Main Content

Why this applies to us:

We use API’s to get all of our data, we currently have 400k+ pages indexed, so it takes no effort to create a new page.

What we’re going to do: 

Work on adding even more value to these pages, as I believe the key part for us here is “and no original content or value added for users.” Meaning if we are able to get some even slight benefit (such as price tracking) that’s both unique content AND added value.

7.4.6 More About Copied Content

Why this applies to us:

As we use API’s, we copy our titles/pricing exactly.

What we’re going to do: 

Unfortunately we can’t do anything about this. As if we change the title/price then it will run the risk of not being completely correct.

10.2 Ratings for Pages with Error Messages or No MC

Why this applies to us:

It doesn’t actually, however it is interesting, the fact that they are looking for if the error pages are actually helpful for the users.

I'm the guy responsible for keeping this site up to date and looking into all the data behind our sites as well as a variety of other tasks.

About Overwork

We are a small partnership, we blog about our purchases, tips, tricks, case studies, reviews and monthly updates.

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