There is no debate; the Panda updates of the last year greatly changed the search landscape – however some would argue that it created more losers than winners. While the impact of the Panda updates was broad in its extent, affecting an estimated 11.8% of searches, Google’s recently announced “Freshness” update is estimated to dwarf Panda in comparison, affecting an estimated 35% of searches.
But unlike Panda, which had a clear victim (That of course being the content farms producing the low quality content), the Freshness update was not created to punish one particular party. Instead, the Freshness update benefits everyone, making real-time results more prominent in the SERP’s.
Caffeine vs Freshness
The Freshness update is only possible due to Caffeine, Google’s infrastructure overhaul in 2010 that allowed Google to crawl and index content at a faster rate than ever before. Whereas Caffeine was an infrastructure change, Caffeine is an actual algorithm change that allows Google to display and rank the results faster than ever before.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land spoke to Google shortly after the news broke and was informed that “Query Deserved Freshness,” the actual content ranking factor influencing the change, has existed since 2007. It appears that the Freshness update simply places more importance on this variable in the overall algorithm than what we’re used to.
So What Exactly Does the Freshness Update Do?
You may have noticed when searching Google that not all of your searches return timely and relevant results. Breaking news on Twitter or the Television may not immediately be represented in Google’s search results. Searches for an upcoming annual event may display news from last year’s conference.
The Freshness update is expected to fix many of these common issues. The 3 types of searches that will be most impacted by the update are:
Recent Events or Hot Topics When searching for news or trending topics on the web, you want the latest information immediately. It does you no good to see breaking news from 2 weeks ago. Now with the Freshness update, you’ll be able to find news about the flash mob you just participated in, minutes after taking off your dance shoes.
Regularly Recurring Events Events rarely happen once. Presidential Elections and the World Cup happen every 4 years, The World Series and Labor Day happen every year. When searching for information on recurring events, you would prefer to find information related to the most recent occurrence. Now with the Freshness update, you’ll be able to.
Superlatives or Frequently Updated Topics As consumers, we rely on the Internet to help us differentiate the best products from the worst. The problem is that searches with superlatives (ex. “Best Mobile Phone) or searches on frequently updated topics (Mobile Phone reviews) that we use to make purchase decisions, don’t have any reference to time. A search for [Best Mobile Phone] could potentially result in an article from the early 90’s on the best mobile phone, like this Zack Morris icon.
While that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing (The Zack Morris phone is pretty sweet!), most users would prefer to see the best mobile phone as of the current date.
With this latest change to the search algorithm it only stresses the need for your website to publish new, fresh content. Consider these recommendations to “freshen up” your content.
Start A Blog If you have a static site you may want to consider starting a blog. Not only will this make content fresher but it could provide the opportunity to reach out to new, potential customers or clients.
Update Blog Posts with New Information For those who already have a blog, you may consider updating your old posts with recent developments. These changes may be recrawled and timestamped accordingly.
Go Social Social networking sites are continually becoming more important to the way Google indexes and ranks content. Content that is new on your website should be shared via your social media profiles. By sharing with your readers and followers it provides the opportunity for your fans to share the new information, the more it is shared the quicker it is indexed by Google.
Add Date/Time Another thing that can be done to improve your freshness rating is to make sure all articles that are posted are time stamped appropriately. Also consider adding the timestamp to the URL.
Add a Forum Although not right for every website, a forum is a great option for creating discussion around a topic, hobby, or brand. With the Freshness update, forum messages are now able to be indexed and ranked. By adding this feature you are offering the opportunity to customers to ask questions, make suggestions and also comment on your products and services.
With the new updates from Google it shows they are working towards giving you the most relevant information right away. With these new search tactics this will work great with recurring events and topics.
Overall, the importance of updating and maintaining your site is evident. Keeping the content fresh will not only keep consumers interested but also Google.