Assessing Your Freshness Factor

by Kris Scheben-Edey December 8th, 2011 

fresh

On November 3rd, just a month ago, Google announced that an algorithmic change involving freshness had taken place. This had an effect on 35% of all search results and many people are still scratching their heads wondering how their sites fared during the ordeal. How has your search traffic performed over the last month?

Compared to the public-eye grabbing Panda update – which changed only about 12% of all search results – the Freshness update should have had a little more attention paid to it. While 35% of all search results we're repositioned, only about 6-10% will be noticeable to users.

This is still incredibly significant and could present some new optimization hurdles or opportunities for the majority of websites. Since the change is still in it's early stages and follow-up algorithmic updates are a possibility, it's difficult to effectively create conclusions on the best approach to this new search horizon.

However, there are a number of criteria that could play a role in the 'freshness factor' for Google's recent update.

Possible Factors in Google's Freshness Update

1. The date of creation or attribution of the document.

2. The date of recent updates or changes to a document.

3. The use of new programmatic languages like html5/css3.

4. The use of search schema and micro-data involving dates.

5. The previous positions on search result pages and movements.

6. The historical traffic levels, clickthrough rates, and their changes.

7. The trend in specific or branded queries and changes in clickthrough rates.

8. New user behavior and trend in received feedback.

9. The trend in user generated bookmarks and social citations.

10. Document topics cross-referenced with trending data.

11. The link development trends and link accumulation velocity.

These are a few factors that could play a role in Google's freshness update, but will need time and testing to develop best-practices. You can use these factors to aid with your own testing and if you've made a related change and seen traffic jump – tell us in the comments below.

My Philosophy on the Freshness Update

I believe that there will be some changes with this update down the line. Mostly, this is because the factors – while truly unknown to the public – put a big welcome sign up for spammers. Whether or not the door actually exists, the black hats and spammers will try to open it with heaps of 'fresh' content.

However, there is always an opportunity. As many sites have already found out, it can have a very positive effect on their internet traffic, and therefore bottom-line. The update is aimed at a long-term improvement that will very likely train users to change their search behavior. Freshness will take on a completely new meaning.

I believe that the freshness update will employ many of the same factors that the Caffeine infrastructure was built upon. As Google states in last month's post, the Caffeine update from February laid the groundwork for Google to index an enormous amount of 'fresh' content like news, tweets, and mountains of micro-data.

The freshness update (in my opinion) is a natural development, and essentially initial release, of their Caffeine infrastructure. Taking what they've learned and continue to learn from the enormous amount 'fresh' content – they can alter the algorithm to include several key freshness factors.

So that's my opinion, but only time and testing will tell. If you've had any notable experiences with the recent freshness update on your site, good or bad, let us know in the comments below.

Kris Scheben-Edey

I'm a young marketing professional passionate about all forms of marketing. Currently, I have the opportunity to work with Switch Video which specializes in animated explainer videos and corporate video production. Fun fact? I have as many PJ's as pants... and I love it!

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One Response to “Assessing Your Freshness Factor”

  1. John McD says:

    So apparently I need to keep up with Google's press releases, because I was just trying to figure out what was going on with fresh content a few days ago. Unfortunately, the situation I see is that new content might even be a liability now if it doesn't make a big splash right away…

    Anyway, the significant boost I had from Caffeine is gone and ramping up the posting schedule has only accelerated the decline. For the keywords I'm working with, the successful strategies seem to increasingly involve keyword-domain matches and heavy syndication of spun articles. This isn't exactly the kind of success I want to copy, so I'm hoping there is some more refining to be done. Quickly!