Once again, the developers at Google have opened their toolboxes and made a few fixes to the world’s most reliable search engine.
The changes to the Google ranking algorithm were made live yesterday morning. Did you hear it? When the news broke, there was an almost-perceptible hush as silence descended on cubicles in offices across the globe – followed by a calamitous rattle as millions of cans of RedBull clattered to the desktops. Propelled to action by the notion of a change in the almighty algorithm, SEOs and Web Marketers across the planet dropped whatever they were doing and began furiously typing in search strings to see the search results.
The results were fast and fresh. So, why the alarm? Well, outside of the notion that Google had tweaked their algorithm to index, crawl and return results faster, developers from HQ in Mountain View, California also stated that the improvements to the ranking algorithm impacted roughly 35% of all searches. Again, that’s 35%, people – a larger percentage than the Panda update which only impacted 12% of conducted searches. The concern, as you may imagine, was that a whole bunch of search results just lost their expected placement. This is a good thing.
The present change to the ranking algorithm supplements and supports the Caffeine web indexing update that was completed by Google in June of last year. The Caffeine indexing system was built in response to the changes in available content on the web. The developers at Google (and just about everyone else who spends a little time on the web each day) know that content on the web is both thriving and growing at an alarming rate. More content means more complexity. More content also means greater expectations from content producers and searchers alike. Google built Caffeine to index pages on an enormous scale, adding new information to the database at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes each day. Then they added in the freshness factor.
The primary term that Google has created over this new algorithm change is freshness. By this term, Google developers are expecting the algorithm to determine when to give searchers more up-to-date, relevant results for varying degrees of information freshness. Simply put: given the absurd rate at which information moves and changes, different search types must have different freshness requirements – if the search results intend to give the searcher up-to-the-minute information.
- Under the new update, a search for information about a recent news event, such as the “Occupy Wall Street” protest, may return pages with information only a few minutes old.
- A search for a regularly-occurring event, such as the World Series, would prompt search results for the most-recent World Series (Cardinals over the Rangers in Game 7) and not some historical game.
- Those searches for information that receives frequent updates, such as consumer product reviews on laptop computers, assume that the searcher probably wants the most up-to-date information on the brand and not something written three years ago for a product that is no longer manufactured.
- On the other hand, we did find a 2006 Matt Cutts blog post ranking #1 for “URL canonicalization“. This content ranks above 2009 content from SEOmoz, and 2010 content from Vertical Measures.
I think we can conclude that Google has favored freshness for sometime, but not discounted all old content completely. Links, comments, social signals, and general URL trust/freshness are other indicators that your content should still rank. This will keep some old content rankings strongly, as we found in example four above.
Was it a good update to the algorithm? Did the world as we know it change dramatically?
The freshness factor has already been shown to impact one out of every three searches (hence the 35%). Some experts have suggested that the freshness factor may open search results to new problems with relevancy, search engine poisoning and junk content. In order for the changes to work as the developers wish, Google may have to leverage a few other search ranking factors as future tweaks to the freshness update.