Google Announces Major Algorithm Change for Freshness

Google unveiled a new algorithm update aimed at providing fresher search results that's expected to impact 35 percent of searches by providing recent news, blog posts and multimedia when a user's intent is to find the latest information on a topic.

Example searches that could see "fresher" results:
- who to start for fantasy football
- occupy Austin arrests
- who was voted off on Biggest Loser
- Top chef episode recap
- nba lockout
- Schweinsteiger injury

The update has apparently been in the works for quite some time. In 2007 Google introduced the concept of "query deserved freshness" (QDF) which aimed to provide queries with fresher content based on their context (sports scores). Google's caffeine update in June 2010 gave the search engine the ability to index content within minutes of publication and the new algorithm change builds on both concepts allowing them to return new, relevant results.

Google projects that the change will impact 35 percent of searches compared to the much discussed Panda update which only affected 12 percent of queries. Sites that have traditionally ranked well but aren't updated frequently could see huge traffic losses and if you're a webmaster, it's a good idea to look at the last time your major web properties were updated and whether there is an opportunity to include fresh content like industry news or brand new products / services.

The update does have its flaws mainly the lack of Twitter data because even though Google can index tweets, it can't crawl the site fast enough to get real time results. Previously the company had an agreement with Twitter that gave it real time access but it expired in July and has not been renewed. I'm also concerned with spam particularly among black hat and malware sites that could spring up and get large amounts of traffic for major news and events. Google claims that they can evaluate pages and sift out spam but I'm skeptical that they can accurately detect every junk site republishing news.

Due to the number of queries affected, expect to see some significant variation in data over the next few weeks.

Leave a Reply