The goal of SEO is to get a site ranked highly in search results. Google search result relevancy comes from a mix of keywords and quality link building. Sites that match the mystery equation with just enough relevant keywords and backlinks from other highly-ranked sites might find themselves in the rarefied air of the top five search results. Google’s recent change to its algorithm, the Google Freshness Update, alters this significantly. Webmasters need to understand the impact of Google Freshness to maintain their sites’ ranking.
Why the change?
The purpose of the Google Freshness Update is to ensure the results of a Google search are relevant and timely. For example, searching for “The Oscars” in the past would likely result in links to the Academy Awards Wikipedia article first, and then maybe the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences homepage and pages with records of past winners. With Google Freshness, the results are timelier, with the latest news on the Oscars presented in the top six results. It makes sense to change the algorithm in this way since web users are likely looking for the latest information and not historical data.
Who does this effect?
Google’s estimate, through their analysis performed since launching this update, is that 35% of web search results are affected by the change. This means for one in three sites, updated content is much more important than keyword stuffing and link building. Stock tip sites, Internet service providers, celebrity news gossip pages, streaming video sites and other constantly-updated web sites saw a boost in SEO visibility just one week after the Freshness Update was released. On the other hand, more static pages like .gov sites and credit card company home pages saw drops in their SEO numbers.
How can I compete?
Given that in just one week after the Google Freshness Update was released, dynamic sites flourished while stale sites floundered, the answer is clear. In the new world of Google Freshness, fresh content is king. Its still important to rely on link building efforts and onsite optimization, however webmasters need to focus on updating sites frequently. The second part of this equation is relevant content. Changing a few words and pinging with an update notification is not going to get a site to the top of the list. Updates have to be relevant to the site’s content and have to reflect what searchers are looking for now.
Is it Trending?
Google’s new Freshness algorithm is changing SEO. It’s no longer as easy to grab the top spot and hang on to it with keywords and backlinks. Web searches can now be equated to Twitter. Sites whose content is “trending” will rank higher. Today’s top hit might be on page four tomorrow. In order to stay relevant and get hits, SEO’s need to continue to evolve. Web sites are no longer canned goods with a long shelf life. They are now perishable. Freshness is what matters now and stale sites won’t last.
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