The Google Freshness Update: Why Current Content Matters
Google’s climb to search engine prominence over the years has been subtly dotted with algorithm adjustments in order to stay current. In November, Google supplemented last year’s caffeine indexing system with the freshness update, making an algorithm that favors content that is both recent and relevant.
“Different searches have different freshness needs,” says software engineer Amit Singhal on Google’s official blog. “This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.”
Although the freshness update is estimated to impact 35 percent of searches (at least one result on the page), it will only be noticeable to the average user among 6 – 10 percent of searches. In other words, the update is more effective than will be noticed.
So how is freshness and relevancy measured by Google’s standards? SEO expert and Master Google founder, Ali Husayni, points to respective topics.
“For ‘news’ items, the later a page has been created and content developed, the better rank it will have,” Husayni says. “For other topics such as ‘historical events,’ Google may include old pages along with new analysis.”
Account Director at Punch Communications and Huffington Post blogger Philip Keightley explored the same question in a recent post.
“What constitutes relevance? In Google’s eyes, hundreds of factors, with freshness being a recent development,” Keightley says. “What constitutes freshness? Real-time social networks such as Twitter and to some extent Facebook and Google+ have added additional tools to Google’s armory, since it can now crawl the content from these networks and deduce which content people are interested in, what it is and if it is relevant for its search results.”
The freshness update has not only affected search results, but has already begun to affect the methods of developers and writers as well. Former Master Google writer Kristen Peters has expressed how the freshness update influences her approach.
“Google’s freshness update has certainly affected our writers’ methods here at Master Google,” Peters says. “We always knew that content was a huge part of optimization, but this development has made it all the more important to write quality blog posts more often and has encouraged us to keep an eye on industry news, as the timeliness of the content is also a crucial component.”
Keightley shared thoughts on the immediate future as well.
“This presents a number of opportunities to marketers, regardless of their size and ammunition,” Keightley says. “Essentially, by creating a digital social object, whether that is in the form of an application on Facebook, a microsite or even a blog post, the buzz around that content will have a far greater benefit in search.”
Husayni does not believe any one component to a site warrants particular care and attention, but notes the importance of general consistency as with such formats as blogs.
“Blogs seem to be an important part of any site because they get updated on a regular basis,” Husayni says. “I suggest site owners should write for their sites on a regular basis. The more fresh, quality and relevant content they post to their sites, the better chances of exposure and inclusion on Google search results they will have.”
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