Google's New Freshness Algorithm

by Vanessa on November 4, 2011

One of the mysterious things about search is that we know what we want when we search, but the computer doesn’t. Google’s entire kingdom has been built upon their efforts to break through this barrier to delivering users the information that they really want.

Google just announced an improvement to their algorithm that delivers fresh content when you want fresh content, and all content when the freshness might not matter so much. Let’s explain more. . .

Current events and news pop up on a daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute basis. If you search for a current event, you probably want the most recent information. Even something from a day or two ago might be too old to be useful.

If you search for information about a football game score, you might want the one from last week, but there’s an even better chance that you want scores for the game that ended earlier that day.

An event such as the Olympic takes place every 4 years, but if you search for Olympics today, you probably don’t want results from the last Olympics–there’s a good chance you’re interested in the one that is coming up next summer.

Google Search uses a “freshness algorithm” they call Caffeine that delivers the most up-to-date results, even when, like the Olympics example, you don’t specify Olympics 2012.

The results from Caffeine have now enabled Google to improve the ranking algorithm that they say impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you the most recent results that you probably want.

If you’re searching, for instance, for Occupy Wall Street info, you may get results that are only minutes old, rather than news reports from last week.

But there are lots of times when the most recent results don’t matter that much, for instance, when searching for a recipe or some other reference point. In those cases, the algorithm update now better “understands” what you want and delivers freshness to meet your needs.

While on the surface this seems like a great thing, SEOs and webmasters are concerned, and rightly so. This change may put even more influence on content that changes on a regular basis. If your site doesn’t update very often, you may want to keep an eye on how this affects your rankings. Let’s say you have helpful, informative articles on your site about your products. If they haven’t been updated since last year, Google may not pay much attention to them anymore in favor of articles about the same topic that have been updated more recently.

Also, for the user, the best search results are the ones that are relevant, not just fresh. If you have any doubts about how you should proceed with your site updates and optimization in light of this change, here’s our advice:

Relevancy will always be important. If you can make updates to your site’s content, review, articles, etc., do so. But don’t update haphazardly so that you’re updating with low-quality information just for the sake of updating. And, like most things search-related, keep an eye on things. There are opportunities for webmasters in any industry to provide fresh, relevant content.

  • Kurt Booker

    I'm digging the algorithm change.  Seeing better results, especially when googling my name which brought up a lot of other guys before.  That means I'm relevant and fresh!

  • Kurt- You are very relevant, but I would never call you fresh to your face!

  • Google's algorithm is Google's trademark, that's why Arizona SEO companies, are trying their best to please Google to be on their search engine. Thanks for sharing!

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