With Google’s most recent “freshness” update, SEO-savvy website owners may be scrambling for their keyboards to start furiously typing new content for their websites in an effort to create a fresher face to Google’s search bots.
Not so fast!
While Google states “search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh”, that doesn’t directly correlate to “new” content being recognized as fresher than the rest.
ALL content has an expiration date, but whether that is today, tomorrow or last week depends on the value that content creates for its user;
- Can it be found? Is it relevant? Well optimized content includes cues in the code (e.g. title tag, meta description) that better allow Google to index and present for a relevant query. Fresh means nothing if it’s served up as the incorrect answer to a search query.
- Is the content unique or does it simply rehash other content without additional insight? We know from this year’s Panda updates that Google is harping on content quality. Although unique and original aren’t the only criteria, value is in a content’s ability to engage or educate or entertain or enlighten and freshness can contribute to whether it’s valuable enough to maintain a users interest once they arrive.
- Is it worth sharing? Probably more important than any Google-created “value” assignment, is whether content is deemed worthy of sharing with friends, colleagues or the occasional Google+ passerby. Social is a real-time medium, providing valuable clues via data search engines can measure, that content has value (and is “fresh” – in the 70′s style of hip and happening).
- Is there buzz, trending or other indicators that a topic is “hot“? Beyond social is Google’s massive data mining operation that monitors billions of individual “moments” online and is able to glean trends efficiently and at scale. For example, an article on a Royal Wedding might have little interest until a Royal Wedding is imminent, and then might warrant a ‘fresher’ tag or at least a little more prominence when Google sees relevance, a recent article post date, and some existing SEO authority.
The Google post ends: “Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.”
Which essentially equates to “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Nothing much appears to have changed apart from Google continuing to focus on relevance.
Although Google’s “quality deserves freshness” mantra still rings in many SEO ears, my thought prefers the caveat of “quality deserves relevance = fresher“.
Just be sure to check the expiration date at the bottom of your pages