Benefiting from the Google Freshness Update

google freshness updateOn November 3, 2011 Google implemented its latest update to the Caffeine algorithm appropriately named The Google Freshness Update.

This update to the search algorithm focuses on rewarding websites that offer fresh content. Not surprisingly news websites did very well, some better than others but we will get to that later.

News Sites and Other Winners

News sites generally update their content by the day, hour and some by the minute. Celebrity news and gossip sites have also done well by the same reasoning.

There is more to the Update than just freshness, based on results of a SearchMetrics analysis. Brand names like Coke, Hotels.com and Dominos.com also gained in visibility or ranking after the update even though they don’t update their content any more than the average website.
It is possible that recent information on product releases or product reviews may have had something to do with it.

This could also be a form of SEO content strategy going forward (product reviews).

The SearchMetrics analysis is based on keywords and not traffic gain or loss.

Purpose of Google’s Freshness Update

The Freshness Update is Google’s first step in developing an algorithm that can differentiate between specific search terms, that require up to date information (or a specific date) and general search terms.

For some webmasters who have relied on link popularity in the past the update could pose a serious problem. They would obviously have to consider changing their SEO strategy to include higher quality, fresh content.

Safeguarding Your Website

  1. The best way to safeguard against this and any future updates to the Caffeine algorithm is to make sure your site only has high quality content that is relevant to your website’s purpose.
  2. Keep your ads to a minimum and keep them out of your users face– there is nothing more frustrating to users than an annoying and distracting advertisement.
  3. Keep your main content front and center, above the fold and easily distinguishable from your advertisements.
  4. Not to mention keeping your website maintained, check to make sure all your links work properly and make sure your copyright date is no more than two years old.

That being said, take advantage of some of the web analytics software on the market to help you find which pages your users like and dislike. The software can keep track of things like number of page views, bounce rate and exit rate.

Another safeguard against deranking is to make sure you have enough content on the page to satisfy your user. Thin content of 200 to 300 words that does not adequately cover a subject is a major no-no in Google’s eyes.

Look at the webpage from the user’s point of view. The Caffeine algorithm is also getting better at picking up duplicate and spun content and nothing will get you barred from Google quicker than plagiarism.

How to Really Benefit from the Freshness Update

Earlier I mentioned that some news organizations profited from the Freshness Update while others did not.

It seems there is a certain amount of bias in the algorithm that favors membership in Google news. So if you are a news provider joining the network may be prudent. The most unfortunate loser affected by the Google Freshness Update are small businesses. These businesses set up their website for the benefit of their customers but do not update it on a regular basis or have the branding of a large corporation.

However, there are a few things a small business can do in the near term to take advantage of the change. Basically what it boils down to is providing new content and when you upload that content ensure that it is properly dated, preferably beneath the title of the article.

A small business can also create a blog on their website that will be continually updated each time a blog or comment is posted. A forum could also be useful for some small businesses; as well as a question and answer page and setting up a social network. Adding your own social news section is also a viable option for most small businesses and you will receive updated content each time a story is posted.

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  • November 20th, 2011 at 7:26 am Justin said:

    Very interesting and useful. It is since old websites who has old stuff rank better is annoying, and it is better than links for my website since it is not easy to have links from opponents. Trying to get links is time-consuming, so I have less time to write good and fresh articles on my blog, but it is wonderful It is a wonderful news, long life to it, to Google and this wonderful website. Thank you and keep up the good job.

  • November 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 am SEO London said:

    Cafine has made easier for the brands to appear in ranks rather then their affiliates.

    ~Aansy Stone

  • December 2nd, 2011 at 6:41 pm kevin blumer said:

    I’m working on a new site design at the moment. And i figure it should work pretty well if i put all my ideas in for fresh content. I have been quite lazy with the front site. With my other blog what i can say is Google has a weird way with traffic if i don’t write for a few weeks i get loads of traffic but after a surge of good traffic for a few weeks it dies when i start again guess what the traffic starts again. The other patten i noticed when i use google adds they seem to like them than other peoples adds i think im not sure.

  • December 16th, 2011 at 4:20 pm Entertainment Crunch said:

    Great share. Now with google updates after every 3 months, it’s good to see the results of a site and work accordingly in right direction.

  • January 4th, 2012 at 3:29 pm Elevate Sal said:

    With the Caffeine algorithm change, it makes for a better quality search. Content that hasn’t been updated in a long time can be misleading in some instances, but a part of the Caffeine algorithm should also focus on social influence and recommendations not strictly fresh content alone.

  • January 4th, 2012 at 7:35 pm Wesley LeFebvre said:

    Hey Sal!

    Agreed. Finding an suitable balance between the two is definitely ideal.

    I think its a step in the right direction, however, I imagine identifying fresh content is much easier to do then measuring relevant social influence and real recommendations.

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