Today, Google announced a search algorithm change that will, as Google says, affect 35% of searches. To give you perspective, Panda only impacted about a third of that amount (around 12%). The point of this algorithm change is to ensure that users are getting the freshest results to their search queries as is possible.
Google announced this change early this afternoon, noting: “We completed our Caffeine web indexing system last year, which allows us to crawl and index the web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today we’re making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.” This leaves us wondering, what types of queries will we see impacted?
Here’s What Google Says
Here are the main search types that will be impacted by this improvement for “fresher” results.
Hot Topics and Recent Events
When searching things that are happening now and that are hot-button topics, you can potentially begin to see results that are only minutes old. Google makes sure to note that the pages you see will be “high quality” (this buzz word was thrown around a lot with Panda).
This is Google’s example of the algorithm’s effect on recent search results. As you can see, the most recent results are as little as 28 minutes old.
This is our example – as you can see, the latest news is showing up at the top, from 2 hours ago.
This is where you’ll find events that take place often, like yearly conferences. However, you’ll notice that with this change, if you Google a certain conference, the most up to date information will be what comes up first, not news about it from 2 years ago.
This is Google’s example of the Recurring Events impact of this new algorithm change. Our arrow is pointing at the fact that the first presidential election that comes up is 2012 (which is most relevant to most users – unless you’re in school and researching presidential elections of the past). But you should also notice below, the news story from one hour ago, discussing the Nicaraguan presidential election. This is the most relevant result when you’re thinking in terms of time (so, the news story was published one hour ago, so it is the most relevant news story because it was just published. It will have the most up to date information).
Check out our example – Bones, the tv show, is returning tonight (OMG Yippee!!). It’s a show that has had 6 previous seasons, and I like the fact that the most recent news is showing up first. So, if you’re looking at this like a piece of content, you’re going to want to keep writing about relevant things that are recurring. To keep up with the “freshness” guideline, you’re going to want to continue to put out fresh content on that specific topic (like, if you’re an SEO company (ahem), you’re going to want to continually write content about Google and the search engines).
UPDATE 11-4-11: But what else does it take to rank high in this “fresh content” zone? Admittedly, there are hundred of thousands of news stories out there (exaggeration, possibly), so how does Google decide what piece of content is most relevant. Over at SEOMoz, Rand Fishkin and Mike King put it out there that possibly sharing this content makes it more relevant to Google. So, timely stories that are +1’d a high number of times might be able to take that coveted number one freshness spot over other also “fresh” stories. They also discussed the different format of most of these fresh links:
“Mike: Absolutely. They’re direct links to individual articles rather than site links.
Rand: And we think these are RSS-based. Is that right?
Mike: Absolutely. So we did a few, like, poking around a few different feeds and things, and we saw that they did match up almost directly with the RSS feeds.
Rand: So if you’re trying to illustrate specific content in your fresh links, which Google is now providing you an opportunity to do, RSS seems to make a ton of sense.”
For stuff that is always changing, it’s important to have the most up to date information. For instance, if you’re looking for car reviews, as Google brings up, you want the most updated information to come first (you don’t want to base your buying decision on a review from 5 years ago!).
As you can see, reviews of the most recent model of the Subaru Impreza come up first.
We don’t really know what will come of this algorithm update. These changes seem very positive, but 35% of searches is a lot. We’ll keep you updated as we continue to learn more.
Also New With Google: More Ads (Geez)
Ads are seemingly beginning to take over the Google SERPs. Now, they will no longer only populate the top and side of the page: they will now ALSO be found at the bottom of your search results (not all at the same time). So, if you’re looking for something on the first page of the search results and you hit a dead end, you could always click on ad at the bottom of the page.
This is the image Google provides when explaining the concept of having ads at the bottom of the page.
Google announced this change, noting that “In many cases, we have found that displaying ads below search results fits better into the user’s flow as they scan the page from top to bottom. On average, this placement performed better than side ads in terms of click-through rate in our tests.” With higher click through rates, these ads will likely bring more advertisers to game – which is good, because it seems like there will be plenty of room for more ads on each page.
If you’re looking to learn more about Google, SEO, or anything else related to the interactive marketing field, revisit our blog for regular news updates, free tips and a healthy dose of sarcasm here and there. If you have questions that are more specific to your business, give our Atlanta SEO company a call at 770-481-1766.