For Google fresher is tastier
On November 3rd, 2011 Google updated their search algorithm, referring to it as the “Freshness Update“. In their own words, “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. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.”
For example, if you search for “New Year’s events Toronto,” the results should reflect New Year’s events occurring this year or recently. Searching for past events might be interesting to some, but in those cases, they will likely be more specific and add the year, such as 1999.
Google constantly adjusts their search algorithms and so the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) has been constantly evolving. The freshness update is a fundamental change because it forces companies who think of their website as an online brochure to now think of it as more like a magazine or newsletter. No longer is SEO a matter of optimizing keywords and phrases, but instead it is a task of generating relevant news.
Now, it is necessary to post updates frequently that are newsworthy for the current audience while at the same time being interesting for new visitors. The easiest way to add fresh content is by using a blog engine, like WordPress. Posts should revolve around a central theme or brand focus that helps communicate the brand narrative. A consistent focus means that Google’s algorithms can attach definitions to the site that make search results more robust so it ranks higher. It also makes the blog easier to maintain.
The words used to describe the brand focus and the brand narrative are not only critical for helping visitors understand the brand proposition—they are also critical in boosting search performance. One way to keep on top of what people associate a given topic with is by using Google’s Insights Tool to see useful information such as:
- The most commonly used search terms relating to a topic.
- The interest in a given topic across geographical regions.
- The interest in a given topic over time.
The statistics that describe how people search for relevant topics should be researched before you start developing content. Google is now maintaining its own monthly blog series on search algorithm changes. You can find updates on smaller algorithm changes and tips at their Inside Search blog.