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Google Freshness Algorithm Update
Friday, November 04, 2011
October tends to be a busy month for Google and their algorithm updates. So as we enter November, it was interesting to see Google announce their latest algorithm update that focuses on freshness.  The premise behind this latest algorithm can be summed up from Amit Singhal from Google when he states:
Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.
So is this Google taking another shot at real-time search?  No I don't think so, especially in light that Google is no longer incorporating Tweets into the results.  Tweets are pretty timely pieces of information... as real-time as you can get on the Web.  At the end of the day, I think that Google simply wants to deliver what they feel are the best results based on the query.  Timeliness does play a roll here.

An obvious question becomes how does one ensure that their content is picked by by the freshness piece of the algorithm?  Well you can bet that site owners, SEOs and webmasters will be trying a number of different things to "manipulate" the freshness factor (re-saving pages anyone?) but it is important to note that a fresh piece of information does not always mean that it is the most relevant piece of information.   I mean if you type in an event with a date, chances are you may be looking for some "legacy" information and not some tweet from a kid doing a report on the topic.  Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan touched on some of the query types or search types that may be impacted:
Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old
Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information.

Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information.
These make sense, but it remains to be seen how other queries will be impacted by this.  35% of all searches is a lot of searches.  (Keep in mind that we are talking searches not keywords).

Did Google just make their results more relevant?  Hard to say.  Totally depends on the searcher, the search query used and the associated semantics.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves and to see if certain types of content see a lift in Google SERPs.

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posted by Jody @ 3:15 PM  
  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    While they don't show tweets anymore, they did recently announce they can now index ajax and javascript comments - that means sites like facebook and twitter which they couldn't index before now become new sources of content. I agree that we likely won't see tweets in results again anytime soon but that's not to say they won't use them as signals to ranking "freshness"

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