Freshness Update + Social Media = Happy Users

Interestingly, Google made two big announcements right around the same time and one clearly overshadowed the other as far as attention from the press goes. On November 7th 2011, Google announced Google+ Pages for Business, which got everyone excited. But then Google also made a very significant algorithm update right before that called the “Freshness” update.

I am with everyone else. The launch of Google+ Pages was and will continue to be really exciting because of the potential that they have for brands and the impact they could have to help marketers gain more visibility in the SERP. In fact, it may turn out to be exactly the integration that the search engines are looking for and set the stage for how our search engines will look in the future.

While there is no question that down the road Google+ Pages may do wonderful things for brands, the freshness update is something that marketers should be concerned with right now because it has the potential to affect what your audience is looking for today.

This update mainly affects one of their ranking factors known as “QDF” or “Query Deserves Freshness”, which impacts queries that are timelier in nature.

It is still unclear as to who will be impacted the greatest, but for now, we know it’s affecting queries around recent events, hot topics, frequently updated information, and release dates (like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which I am “patiently” waiting for).

For example, here is what I saw earlier in the day while writing this post…

But then later on…

Oh well. I suppose it was too good to be true. At least I know.

But, the best part about this update is that it won’t compromise sites that provide valuable content. Freshness wasn’t created to hurt marketers. It is meant to help. And any good SEO will tell you that you should have had a strong content outreach strategy all along.

This update is in sync with the direction search engines have been going. In many ways, this algorithm update creates a significantly stronger need for every single marketer to have a social presence.

Google Just Wants Fresh Content, Right?

Wrong. Freshness is more than fresh content.

Basically, what Google is telling marketers and webmasters alike is, “users want to see updated content, more often and this is the content which we want to show first in our search engine because it is more relevant to your users.” In other words, go create a blog and start writing.

But with an update like “freshness”, a big Google+ push and all the integration that continues to happen with search and social, having new and fresh content isn’t the only thing that is going to cause your site to rank higher. Having new and fresh content that people want to read and share is ultimately what will cause it to rank higher.

Truthfully, most of what Freshness comes down to is really what we as marketers should have been doing all along. The point of this update is not to make our lives more difficult, but rather to make our brands more relevant to our customers.

4 Tips To Be Socially Fresh

If there was ever a time to create a social presence, that time is now. Fresh content is good, but lots of content with no sharing is greatly inhibited. The key to rankings isn’t just the content; it’s what happens with the content.

Here are some tips to keep in mind, not only as far as fresh content goes, but also to ensure you have the right tools in place to promote your fresh content with social media.

  1. Ensure content is current and up to date. Create a full blown content strategy and try using some free tools, like Social Mention or Google Alerts to stay on top of your industry. There is always something new to write about. Use your company’s blog to share ideas and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. There is no better way to do this than with social media. Social Media is the medium that will spread this information. Which brings me to my second point.
  2. Don’t just write it, Share it. It is equally important to set aside time, not to just write the posts, but to market them too. One easy way to do this is to help your readers promote your article by making it easy for them. Add Social Share buttons for quick sharing.
  3. Join Social Networks. Another effective way to market your content . While Google still does not have access to the Twitter “fire hose”, at some point I am sure they will (and either way, Twitter is great for gathering information about trending topics. Even if they don’t get access to Twitter, Google + and the +1 button seem to be taking a bigger share of the pie and given their strong impact on the SERP’s, marketers would be remise to ignore them.
  4. Don’t just share it, REALLY Share it. One thing that seems to be a big indicator of fresh content is the time stamp. Take an active role in promoting your content to Google and tell them about new content using XML sitemaps and RSS feeds (I first saw this from my buddy Mike King on White Board Friday).

Consider Social Freshness & Everyone is Happy, Except The Competition

Am I telling you that with this algorithm change, you need to change what you are doing?  Not yet. But I am telling you that this is something you should have been doing all along.

While Google has said that this is only affecting 6-10% of search results (35% of queries), I suspect this is only the beginning. Over time, searcher behavior will change and QDF will impact different types of searches. As marketers, we need to keep a better eye on our radars and jump at the opportunities to create fresh content which can give us the upper hand.

If we consider these tips, everyone is happy. Our audience is happy because they get the timeliest content. The search engine is happy because they are able to provide the most relevant content possible. And we as marketers are happy because our content is the one that gets found.

The only one not happy is the competition because we have successfully out performed them. Wouldn’t you hate to be on the other side?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Director of SEO for Kahena, a Digital Marketing agency focused on sustainable SEO, vertical search optimization, and online advertising. At KDM, he leads strategy for all accounts and is experienced in SEO ranging from local, digital marketing, to national and global search marketing. Aaron also specializes in social media strategy development and its convergence with SEO, content creation, image and video optimization. Follow him on Twitter @AaronFriedman.

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