Right on the heels of Google Panda comes Google Freshness – an algorithm change in the search engine which Google says will make search results much fresher than before. Google claims that unlike Panda, which only affected about 12% of all search queries, Google Freshness will have an effect on over 30% of all searches, close to 35%.
After moving over from the caffeine infrastructure a year ago, Google prepared itself for a much quicker search engine algorithm change. The Google Freshness change is the embodiment of this year-long plan.
What Google Freshness means to do is to give searchers the absolute latest information possible about a queried subject. Because of the caffeine infrastructure which allows Google to index, crawl and return results incredibly fast, this current search engine algorithm can give you the latest news almost instantly, providing you with high quality pages that may only be a couple of minutes old.
Another aspect of Google Freshness is the ability of the search engine algorithm to follow events that take place on a recurring basis, like presidential and congressional elections. Currently, looking up in advance that is recurrent may give you results from a long time ago. However, with Google Freshness, you are more likely to receive the results of the most recent recurrence of the activity instead of one from 40 years ago.
This update will also give you the absolute latest when it comes to products or services as well as news. For instance, if you were looking up a certain car or the latest smart phone, you would be more likely to get information on the newest iteration of that product rather than older versions.
Under the new Google Freshness update, content that is updated much more frequently will be rewarded under the algorithm. However, some opponents of the system have raised some doubts about what this will actually mean for search results. For instance, the Google Panda update stopped many black hat techniques in their tracks such as keyword stuffing and directory listing with spam directories. There was also some backlash with Panda, with many users saying that this particular update unfairly punished how to and wiki sites. However, the positive effect of Panda on search results and search engine optimisation both far outweighed the negatives – this was pretty much universally agreed upon by consumers and producers of online content alike.
Opponents of Google Freshness see a much higher probability for backlash with no positive effect. For instance, opponents say, simply making a small change to a page can give it a “freshness” update that will unfairly boost it to the top of search engine rankings without taking into account its relevance or true popularity. This would actually lead to huge decreases in relevancy and the ability of spammers and content with less gravitas to have greater presence in search results.
Google counters these critiques by saying that it has already incorporated search ranking factors that are tried and true in with the Freshness algorithm to reward content that is both fresh and good. They say that simply changing a small aspect of the page does not make it automatically become “fresh,” as opponents of the update say that it will.
However, there is a large constituency of “fresh” content that Google has never really been able to rein in. This is all of the content on Twitter, which far and away has most of the fresh information on the Internet. Though Google+ is attempting to catch up with the amount of content that Twitter provides, Twitter is the un-equivocated leader in fresh content on the web right now. The fact remains that Google simply cannot index all of this Twitter content fast enough to incorporate it into a freshness algorithm.
Google does not deny this, but simply diverse the issue by saying that they are more focused on the microblogs than on Twitter. Google says that Twitter might be fresh, but it is not good, because you really cannot get in depth with an issue in 140 characters.
Opponents of the continued changes of the Google algorithm had yet another argument for both Panda and Freshness – that is the fact that Google is still the sole arbiter of what is fresh and good. Until search engine rankings give more credence to social media networks, that is. Personally I find this update to work in favor of quality content, the same as Panda, but of course we will see the end results after we have time to measure the impacts of this new change.
This is the first guest post from Alex Petrovic a SEO strategist for Dejan SEO Company in Australia.