Bring on the (Google) Freshness!
With a sizable market share over some of the other search engines, the folks over at Google are still pouring it on in efforts to maintain its dominance by making yet more changes to the way it displays search results. Over the past few years, the search engine has changed the landscape by implementing a wide range of changes including its Google Instant, Caffeine and Panda just to name a few. Most of these changes to Google’s algorithm were made with the intent of bringing the most relevant search results to its users. To most of us, the majority of these changes are seemingly “under the hood”, but Google’s most recent update (Freshness) will affect more than one-third of all search queries. This change in how the search engine serves results will drastically change the way that many websites do business online. In fact, it’s seemingly the largest update to Google’s search algorithm since its 2010 Caffeine update.
As its name might imply, the main purpose of the Freshness update is to place higher value on what Google deems currently relevant i.e. fresh. To put it another way, the Freshness update will attempt to keep search results ultra-relevant based on what is socially popular. For example, users searching for say “Royal Wedding” at a time when the wedding is happening will receive results serving content focused on Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton rather than the history or traditions of Royal Weddings in general. While recently created content seems like it best fits this description for this type of valuation, that may not always be true. In some cases, older content that has recently become more relevant may be assigned new value. Google is expected to incorporate more social metrics into the new evaluation method. Some speculate the Google Plus will play a big role here as well.
How Will Freshness Rating Affect Search Results?
One of the ways that Google hopes Freshness will help it is in the social media market. Because Google had been returning out-of-date content for quite some time, users had been increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook in an effort to find new more relevant content. By having its search algorithm adjusted to assign more weight to a socially shared content, Google should be able to provide users with content that is much more relevant to their interests.
The effects of the Freshness update were immediately noticeable, and the ultimate results of it are still not entirely clear. In the days after the update went live, some major sites saw their SEO rankings change dramatically. One thing that is clear is the fact that websites can increase their SEO visibility by updating more frequently or referencing current events.
Lou Lynch is a Content Manager and active blogger in the EDU world. He is currently involved with several education blogs and websites that promote information surrounding online universities and their related programs. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, golf and camping.