Are You Down With the Freshness?

November 9th, 2011

And by “freshness”, of course we mean Google’s new Freshness algorithm that favors frequently updated content in the search results delivered to you. Amit Singhal, from Google, says that “search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh.” While that may be true, it could also affect your website’s search engine rankings, especially if others in your market or category are updating their platforms on a more regular basis.

This new algorithm update stems from the completion of their Caffeine (aptly named!) web indexing system last year, which crawls and indexes the web for fresh content much quicker and on a much larger scale. The new Freshness algorithm further builds on Caffeine and impacts roughly 35 percent of searches. Different searches have different freshness needs and Google’s new algorithm accounts for that, differentiating between what queries require recent content and those it is less relevant for. For example, if you are searching for information on when the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting will take place, you are more likely than not interested in the 2011 tree lighting and not 2008 or 2004. However, if you are searching for a cookie recipe, timeliness is less critical. As a result of this, the search results that will be most affected include those in the following categories:

  1. Recent events or hot topics (latest news about NBA lockout, Occupy Wall Street protest, etc.)
  2. Regularly occurring events (elections, X Factor results, etc.)
  3. Frequent updates (best SLR camera, safest SUV)

This freshness shift shouldn’t be seen as a detriment, but rather an opportunity to increase our search rankings by making sure content is relevant, updated and takes into account both social media and search. Now, more than ever, analytics, keyword research and trending topics should have an impact on the content we push out on the web, in social channels and press releases. Let’s shift our thinking to “real-time” so we can really embrace the “freshness” and provide our target audiences with the updated, relevant content they are looking for.


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