Whenever Google does a big update to their algorithm, SEO’s everywhere shudder.
It’s probably because in the past, when a notable update went public, SEO was completely turned upside down.
Just take a look at either the “Mayday Update” or the “Panda Update.”
For those of you who don’t know, both of these updates were designed to target a specific type of website. For the Mayday Update, the targets were thin “Google Sniper” websites – sites that had a small amount of “fluff” content, designed to rank on page #1 of Google for their main keyword alone.
With the Panda Update, the implications were much bigger. It was an attempt to rid the Google search results of all filler content websites. So sites like EzineArticles.com, HubPages.com and many others took a HUGE hit.
Additionally, the Panda Update officially marked the end of “SEO as we know it.”
Before Panda came around, internet marketers had a pretty good idea how the Google algorithm worked.
It was easy—target a few keywords, write content geared towards those keywords and build backlinks. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But here’s the thing – though this process was giving internet marketers what they wanted, it wasn’t giving Google what it wanted!
The search engine rankings were clogged with garbage filler sites that provided ZERO value to anyone who landed on the page. If you searched for information during this time (and who didn’t), you know exactly what I’m talking about.
For virtually any query, there was at least one “filler” article on the subject. You’d click on it hoping to find the answer, discover it was complete garbage and immediately exit the website. Obviously, this wasn’t good for Google’s business.
So they changed everything.
And we’re still reeling from the changes. We still don’t have a handle on what Google’s doing. And thanks to the skyrocketing popularity of social media websites, Google’s algorithm could change in a BIG way at any time.
We’re starting to see this with more frequent algorithm updates.
The most recent one is called the “Freshness” update. But this one’s a bit different than both the Mayday and Panda updates. This one doesn’t specifically target a type of websites (Panda’s still handling that). Instead, it was designed to make the searcher’s life easier.
Here’s the thing you need to remember about Google: they’re a business. Their goal is to provide value to their search engine customers – more value than any other search engine on the net, for that matter. If you look back on the history of their algorithm updates, you’ll see that every update was designed to increase the amount of value they provide, in some way. For the Mayday and Panda updates, it was all about taking out the trash – making sure when people searched for something, they didn’t get useless filler content.
And now that they have that handled (for the most part), it’s time to move on to making the search process more fluid.
That’s exactly what the Freshness update has done.
In a nutshell, Freshness is all about making sure search results are, well… fresh!
When you search for “Miami Dolphins” right after a game, chances are you’re looking for the score. Before the Freshness update, you might be directed to the official Miami Dolphins website.
Now, though, you’ll receive news results based on the event that most recently happened.
So you type “Miami Dolphins” into the search bar, push enter and voilá – the top of the search rankings will display the most recent news regarding your search query.
For our football example, that might include the scores of the most recent game. If your search was for “Justin Bieber” instead, it would include the latest news about his day-to-day life.
Now, where the Mayday and Panda updates turned SEO upside down, the Freshness update doesn’t necessarily do the same thing.
Let me explain.
Google’s designed a metric called “query deserves freshness.” This metric is used to determine whether or not a search query needs frequently updated news. So if you search for news on Ron Paul, that’s obviously a query that deserves freshness.
But if you search for “marble counters,” that’s not a query that deserves freshness. So the “Ron Paul” query is affected by the Freshness update, whereas the “marble counters” query isn’t.
So what does this mean for SEO’s? Well, if you’re not in a niche or market that “deserves freshness,” your SEO strategy will remain largely unaffected by this most recent update.
However, if you ARE in a market that “deserves freshness,” you’ll have to start doing a few things different.
Here are a few examples of niches that deserve freshness:
- Political News
- Celebrity News
- TV Show Websites
As a rule of thumb, if your niche “in the news” or is rapidly changing, it probably deserves freshness.
So what do you do if you’re in one of these niches? Easy – provide fresh content!
If you’re in the “political news” niche, whenever something important happens, be one of the first people to write about it! If you’re writing reviews on TV shows, whenever a new show airs, be one of the first people to write about it!
If you’re not producing updated content to match with the news in your niche, you’ll fall behind on the rankings.
Here’s the good news, though: if you DO keep updating your content, your website will rank on the top of page #1 – even if you don’t necessarily have that much “SEO authority!”
This is because Google’s new algorithm wants to display content as quickly as possible. It doesn’t necessarily matter where that content comes from, so if you can be one of the first people to publish news, you’ll likely rank very well on Google.
For most SEO’s, the freshness update is nothing to worry about. The vast majority of niches remain unaffected by the algorithm.
If you’re in a market that IS affected, don’t panic! Instead, focus on providing frequently updated content to your readers. This way, you’ll have a better user experience on your website AND you’ll have a great chance of ranking on page #1.
Mike Collins is a writer for the search engine optimization website, SEO Site Check Up.com.
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