Google launches new algorithm to better understand useful & timely information

This doesn't mean all featured snippets need to be new and fresh, it just means when the answer needs fresh content - Google will want to find fresh results.

Chat with SearchBot

Google’s Vice President of Search, Pandu Nayak, announced the company has launched an update to their search algorithms that keep featured snippets timely, fresh and relevant when the query demands it.

This new update aims at making sure that the answers Google gives you for some questions are not just accurate but also timely. Google confirmed that this algorithm update aims at better understanding useful and timely information.

Google’s announcement. Here is what Google announced:

As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.  

Examples of freshness in featured snippets. Google gave a few examples of featured snippets that need to be fresh when time goes on. For example, when searching for upcoming holidays, you don’t want to see the dates of the holidays in 2017, you want to see the upcoming dates for the coming year.

UK School Holiday Calendar Design.max 1000x1000

Or more accurate information. Or when more accurate information is available for a topic, Google wants to show the new information. This can come up with events that might have only shared the date and time of the event, but has yet to release the speakers or agenda – like our SMX events when they first launch. Here is the example Google has given:

Stranger Things.max 1000x1000

Or recent recalls. Recalls on food, cars, safety issues are also important:

But it isn’t perfect. Google admits it is always improving. I checked an example provided to Google last month for a search on [best smartphone for product photography] and Google still shows the iPhone 7, from a story in 2015. Clearly there are much better quality smart phones in terms of photography out today, including Google’s own Pixel 3 and soon to launch Pixel 4.

Bad Featured Snippet

Launched in late February. Danny Sullivan from Google told us that this algorithm update went live in late February of this year:

Why we care. The featured snippets and Google’s overall search results are always changing. Google is always looking to make improvements because as you can see, Google hasn’t always provided the best results and still doesn’t always provide the best results. We should aim to provide the best content for the query and hopefully Google’s algorithms will recognize your content and showcase it at the top of its search results.

About the author

Barry Schwartz
Barry Schwartz is a technologist and a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics.

In 2019, Barry was awarded the Outstanding Community Services Award from Search Engine Land, in 2018 he was awarded the US Search Awards the "US Search Personality Of The Year," you can learn more over here and in 2023 he was listed as a top 50 most influential PPCer by Marketing O'Clock.

Barry can be followed on X here and you can learn more about Barry Schwartz over here or on her personal site.

Get the newsletter search marketers rely on.