Freshness Update: Is Your Site Feeling Not So Fresh?

Google makes scores of changes to its search algorithms every year, but only occasionally do they make waves that are noticeable by the vast majority of websites.  The Panda Update was a notable exception, as is the newer so-called “Freshness Update.”  What is this, and how many sites will be affected?

More than a third of sites will be impacted by the update, which is geared towards making content more fresh or relevant for searchers
. When you search for “World Cup,” Google will assume you want information on the upcoming 2014 games instead of more general information on the Games or on past World Cups. 
Complementing the rise of social media, this algorithm shake-up is designed to provide real-time, up-to-the-minute results.

Many of the sites affected experienced a jump in traffic.  A big winner, according to SearchMetrics, is last.fm.  The UK-based site is the world’s largest online music catalogue and saw an almost 13 percent jump in traffic.  It was a clear winner because of the social nature and sharing capability of the site.  Cable company Comcast, by contrast, lost about 23 percent, presumably because its content is not “fresh.”  It is relevant, but it does not change frequently.

This is excellent for blogs and news sites, but it will prove challenging for those with information that does not need updating.  This has led many to speculate that businesses will start depending more heavily on blogs, which are frequently updated.

How else can they get around the update?

  • Make sure to use proper timestamps.
  • Check out Google News’s content policies and submit your site for inclusion.
  • Create forums, social sharing features, and Q&A pages to encourage interaction and fresh consumer-generated content.

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