You may have been surprised this past week when you performed some Google searches and were overcome by a soothing odor of minty freshness.
Google recently updated it search algorithm to reflect more up-to-date information in its search results. The change was announced on Google’s official blog and is designed to address the problem of outdated results. Amit Singhal maintains that “Google Search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results, so even when I just type [olympics] without specifying 2012, I still find what I’m looking for.”
Google’s freshness update was rolled out globally on November 4, but what does it mean for you? Well, it depends on your site.
The “Google Fresh” update is said to affect 35% of search queries, which are the actual words people search – not to be confused with keywords, which are a huge factor in site rankings. There are a number of keywords that are affected within the search queries, but that number is far below the 35% of queries impacted.
Sites with content that remains largely unchanged year-to-year (Online Japanese dictionaries, for example) are unlikely to fall into the 35% of affected queries.
The keywords likely to see the most change are those classified as ‘query-deserves-freshness’ (or, QDF). These include: celebrity searches, recent events, and frequently updated topics. If you search right now for queries like Occupy Wall Street, or Penn State, you will likely see a change in their ranking based on when their most recent updates were. One addition to the update is the inclusion of a time stamp so you know just when content was posted.
This is especially important for event sites that track attractions. I love the Midwest, so let’s use Chicago as an example.
A user searching for what to do in Chicago is going to get a slew of sites that will probably mention Millennium Park, Lollapalooza, Sears Tower and all the other static things for which Chicago is internationally known. However, there are thousands of events and attractions going on in Chicagoland at any given time, including art openings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, drink specials at Beauty Bar and new menu items at La Pasadita. Google Fresh will give a bit more priority to those sites updating with fresh content, because if you are indeed searching for what to do in Chicago, you don’t want results suggesting things you could have done last week.
The same goes for metropolitan hotels, whose traffic depends largely on what’s happening in the city; you can bet that Indianapolis hotels that haven’t mentioned the Super Bowl on their site are getting far less traffic than those who are.
And so to answer my own question, you shouldn’t be too worried about Google’s freshness update. It’s definitely not the sea change that Panda was and will not, as some suspect, give all the ranking power to new content. The results are still a mix of relevant results and new content, so as long as the quality of your work remains valuable and you create and post new content regularly, you will fare well in this minor alteration.
For Further Reading:
- Google Added Flights Results to Google Search
- Google Announced Faster Search and Results in Zero Seconds
- Why Google’s Antitrust Suit Isn’t Clear-Cut
- Google Steps Into Its Teens, Turns Thirteen
- Google: A View From The Dark Side [Infograhic]
- Why Game Developers Are Jumping On To Google+ Games
- Google Street View Now Takes Viewer Inside Buildings
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