Google’s “Freshness” Update and What it means to SEO

Google recently announced the so-called “Freshness” update, which was introduced to provide users with more up-to-date and relevant search results. An extension of the previous Caffeine update, the Freshness update affects approximately 35% of searches. But what exactly does the Freshness update mean for search marketers and those of us who rely on high search engine rankings for revenue?

Understanding the freshness update

Google’s Freshness update prioritizes recent and timely search results. That means when people search for information about hot topics, the most recently published content will show up. Fresh content will even be capable of ranking higher than older content with lots of links.

According to Google, different searches have different freshness needs. For recent events and trending topics, searchers want to find the latest information, which is generally content that is just minutes old.

When searching for information about regularly recurring events, such as the World Cup or the presidential elections, most users want to find information about the most recent event. For example, if you were to search for information about the Olympic Games right now, you’d probably want to read about the London 2012 Olympics, not the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.

Even users looking for information about topics that aren’t trending or related to current events sometimes require fresh results. For instance, if you’re buying a new car, you probably want to find up-to-date information about the makes and models currently on the market. Google’s Freshness update was designed to provide you the most current information related to your query.

The Freshness Update’s Winners and Losers

The search visibility of many news, broadcasting, and prominent brand websites has improved significantly since the Freshness update was implemented. Some major websites that have seen improvements in rankings include Rate My Professors, Lonely Planet, Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, and Last.fm. It is difficult to classify the sites that have lost search engine visibility after this update since they are all over the map, but some specific examples include American Express, Jezebel, Comcast, and Gizmag.com.

Overall, it seems that the Freshness update has improved the rankings of sites with the freshest, most frequently updated content. It’s no longer just about being relevant. Being timely is also important! So, if there’s a hot topic brewing in your industry, don’t write a blog post about it and then schedule it for later in the week – write the post and publish it immediately.

Post-Freshness Update Content Creation Strategies

Having fresh website content has always been important in SEO, but the Freshness update has made it even more of a necessity. Ultimately, the more frequently you publish content, the better. Content that deals with recent trends or events in your industry will do particularly well.

The timing of your posts is also crucial. If you publish articles about hot topics, do so when people are likely to be online searching for information about it. For example, if you’re writing content that’s aimed at office workers, publish it during business hours, not at 8pm on a Saturday night.

Regularly tweaking the existing content on your site is also important. For example, if you run an ecommerce site, keep your content fresh by revising product descriptions on a regular basis. Old, static pages that haven’t been updated since you launched your site are likely to hurt your rankings, so make an effort to regularly review your content and ensure that it’s up-to-date.

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