Google “Freshness” Algorithm Update: The Impact
We have good news for the Panda-wary search engine marketer or business owner: the recent algorithm update run by Google was not devastating for many of you. Though it was projected that 35% of search results would be altered (a number nearly triple Panda’s 12% effect), there was not much damage done with regard to SEO. Let me explain.
The “Freshness” Algorithm Change
First things first, the algorithm change was announced by Google as one that would ensure the freshness of results. At this, many a news site owner’s attention should have been caught. Basically, if someone searches a new/hot topic, recurring event or something that changes frequently, the most recent piece to be indexed on that topic being searched will show at the top of the results. So, a user could be viewing an article written 20 minutes ago, one hour ago, and so on. No longer are the days of having to sift through results to find the most recent. You don’t even have to type in the date of the thing you’re searching. For example, if you search “presidential election,” you don’t have to add 2012. Google will provide you with the most up to date information.
Here, the most recent article written about any presidential election was one about the election in Nicaragua. Now let’s try something timely, in America.
What I find interesting about this algorithm update is that it doesn’t seem to prioritize credibility. I’m sure the content has to make sense to rank, but the Washington Post ranks second to FITSNews here, a blog, because it was posted more recently than was the story posted by a credible news outlet like Washington Post.
So, there you have it: a brief rundown of the “freshness” algorithm. It seems to me that as long as you don’t create a website, then run off for months without updating it and still expect it to rank, you shouldn’t be terribly affected by this particular algorithm change. The “freshness” equation seems to call for regularly updated content so that Google can bring users the most recent news on any event – hot, recurring or just frequently changing. So, if you’re an SEO, you’re likely thinking that consistently updating blogs is the way to keep up with this algorithm change, and we’d say you’d be right. The biggest concern right now is possibly losing some of your rankings to sites that are constantly creating newer, fresher content.
The Results of the Algorithm Change
Getting back to the original reason for this post, SearchMetrics reported on the winners and losers after the algorithm change (remember when they did this after Panda 2.5?), and our overall impression is that few sites suffered from this algorithm change, and it tended to favor more news-related sites (which makes perfect sense) and sites that are consistently commenting on hot topics. Before revealing the results, here’s what Search Metrics had to say: though the update affected a high number of keywords, it was overall positive in the sense that it does improve the user experience. Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics added:
“…after this update I found NO type of losers but a lot winners which have lots of similarities. And this is also the correlation for this update. Google prefers sites like news sites, broadcast sites, video portals and a lot Brand sites. This is also a type of sites which have regularly fresh content and a big brand with higher CTRs.”
So who were some winners and who were some losers?
Winners That Stood Out To Me
Perezhilton.com –Perez Hilton consistently updating his blog with celebrity news. He certainly has the “freshness” requirement on his side.
Huffingtonpost.com – This blog comments on pretty much everything, all the time.
Southwestvacations.com – This site has deals that are always changing and updating.
Overstock.com – Always featuring new items and/or updated prices, the content on this site is always fresh.
Hellomagazine.com – Another entertainment centric gossip blog that is updated regularly.
Businessinsider.com – Similar to Huffington Post, this newsy blog is always being updated with new, fresh content about business (and other newsy things).
Ratemyprofessors.com – This one is interesting. Students tend to update this site regularly with comments about professors, but the site is also continuously updated with college geared news.
Losers That Stood Out To Me
Comcast.net – I see a lot of content on this site, but it’s not really timely. It’s more general news, rather than news that is impacting readers at this very moment.
Univision.com – This one is surprising. Even though I don’t really understand all of it (it’s a Spanish website), it seems to be reporting on multiple different events fairly often. I think this one likely has a similar issue to Comcast.net.
Jezebel.com – On this site, everything is segmented based on “timely” topics (like politics: enter Herman Cain), but the extremely opinionated site does more assessment of certain events rather than really reporting on current ones.
All in All
All in all, this was not a bad algorithm change to have faced for many websites. Basically, if you’re good at consistently updating content that is timely and relevant, you should be fine.
Ah, we don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty minty fresh right now.
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