Nov 7, 2011

Google's Freshness Algorithm

According to a new post on the official Google blog, a new "algorithmic improvement" will help users find the latest and most relevant results for approximately 35% of their searches.

With the creation of platforms like Twitter, real-time results have become increasingly important. The idea behind this change was to allow users to search for a recent or upcoming event and find a pertinent and recent page that may be only a few hours old as opposed to a page that was created weeks or months earlier. (Note: there is no word on how more tweets can be brought into Google search results)

For searches related to recurring conferences, events (say, the Olympics) and some of the latest topics (think 'Occupy Melbourne'), relevant results are obviously quite important. But the "freshness algorithm" will also apply to topics that change often but may not be in the recent headlines, like product reviews.

So what does this mean for your organisation?

The Benefits of Fresh Content

If you didn't have enough reasons to create fresh content, add this algorithm to the list. By creating new and relevant information a business can receive several benefits, including search engine benefits. We've already heard that search engines like websites with regularly updated content and new web pages (see "Query Deserves Freshness" for more details).

Other benefits for a business adding fresh content to their site include:

  • positioning itself as a thought leader in its industry
  • connecting with customers and receiving feedback (though not as instant as other platforms, like Twitter)
  • encouraging repeat visits by offering new information on a regular basis

How to Maintain New Content

As this Google improvement suggests, "fresh" content is more than merely making a few changes to the text on a web page; information should be relevant, topical and use quality content.

According to Search Engine Land: "Google now tells us that one of the freshness factors -- the way they determine if content is fresh or not -- is the time when they first crawled a page. So if you publish a page, and then change that page, it doesn't suddenly become 'fresh.'"

Other ways to keep up with new content are with tools like blogs and videos.

Blogs have been getting a bit of a bad rap lately, but they do offer some valuable benefits for businesses, including the ability to engage with customers and start a dialogue. Blogs also provide a platform to share your expertise and show off just how well you are keeping up with the latest trends and updates in your industry.

Video is also being talked about in this area. If you write a blog post or review about a latest product or news item related to your industry, turn it into a video and upload it to YouTube. Do this on a regular basis and you'll not only get more out of the new search algorithm updates, but you'll also provide content on multiple channels and give customers various options to interact with your organisation.

What are your thoughts? Are reports on the decline of blogging and blog comments going to be stronger than the urge to boost your search results with fresh content? Does your organisation have the time and resources to create fresh content? Do you worry that the nature of your industry limits the amount of new information you can share before you end up waffling?

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