Google "Freshness" Update – 5 Action Items

Yesterday, Google’s search quality master Amit Singhal made a post on the Official Google Blog that raised more than a few eyebrows across the search engine universe – especially in the SEO field.

Already being deemed the “Freshness” update, the blog post explained that Google has made some updates and changes to the algorithm to complement the Caffeine web indexing system – one of the major updates in the past 18 months. The original Caffeine update set up to provide “50 percent fresher results.” Yesterday’s update aims to up the ante.

Here’s what it looks like: type a head term like “college football” and you’ll likely see a string of “up-to-the-minute” results. If these look suspiciously like something that might get pulled from an RSS feed, that’s because it’s essentially what this is (albeit a bit more sophisticated).

Google Freshness Update - SERP

So What’s The Big Deal?

Here’s what’s got people’s attention. Amit’s blog post states that Google’s Freshness update will affect “roughly 35 percent of searches.”


OK, so let’s put on the brakes. This statement is a little misleading. People hear 35% of searches and think “that means 35% of my keywords, and 35% of my landing pages, and 35% of…”

This is not actually the case. When Amit says “roughly 35% of searches,” this means 35% of the searches that are actually being performed every day – not the entire universe of possible keywords.

It turns out, this update is more likely to affect broad keywords, keywords dealing with breaking news events, and – of course – celebrities. These types of keywords are known as QDF – “query demands freshness.” Due to the nature of the Web, these queries make up a HUGE percentage of the total search volume (well beyond 35%). So the good news is that your keywords and search queries will likely not see major effects.

Not convinced? Do a little keyword volume research on these three terms and then compare with your website’s keywords: football, lady gaga, kim kardashian.

5 Action Items for Google “Freshness”

As with any update to an algorithm, you never can tell exactly what websites it might affect. But if you look at this update through a different lens, you can actually see opportunities where your website may be able to benefit from these changes.

1. If You Still Don’t Have A Company Blog, Now’s The Time

You really should have a company blog by now. Before if you didn’t, you were missing out on a lot of opportunities. Now if you don’t, you might start to feel it in SERP ranking and corresponding site traffic. This update puts fresh content on a pedestal (duh) – even websites that have been unable to sniff a page #1 ranking could now find themselves in the top 5 results with a timely and well-written blog post.

2. The Same Goes For Online Press Releases

These two could really be 1A and 1B. It’s hard to think of a piece of online content that implies “freshness” more than a time-stamped press release. While it used to be great publicity to get your release in the top spot of a Google News search, now you can bet Google will be shuffling these releases into it’s top 5 on the regular Web SERP for QDF search queries.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of a “Follow-Up” Press Release

When Google says freshness, they really mean it. Results in these top spots will not sit there for long. So even if your press release announcing your big company fundraiser to provide aid to recent hurricane victims generated a ton of buzz on Tuesday, by Friday it is… dare I say… “old news.”

But you can get back in the saddle with a follow up press release. If your event was a success, explain how big – and why. Reinforce exactly how much aid was raised for your cause. The key here is to make sure you are not clearly just jamming a bunch of words down everyone’s throats for the sake of having a follow up release. There needs to be some substance and some value. Keeping these short is advisable.

4. Content Marketing Programs

If the Panda update may have killed the classic “article marketing” model, the Freshness update has given it new life. However, instead of article marketingwith its now shameful directories and duplicated content – think content marketing. Unique pictures, videos, presentations, infographics, whitepapers, industry reports – all of these pieces of content are in high demand. And the more often you push it out, the more likely Google is going to reward your “fresh” approach with high rankings.

The first step in executing a content marketing campaign is to audit your current content profile – Webbed Marketing can help with a Content Audit.

5. Re-Evaluate Old Pages on Your Site

By placing an emphasis on freshness for QDF queries, your old page that used to rank on page #1 for “Football” may end up taking a hit. Now is the time to go back and see if some of these pages can be re-optimized to target more specific keywords (e.g. “Football Memorabilia”).

About Fathom Team Member

Leave a Reply