About Google’s Freshness Algorithm
There’s an idea that Google prefers “fresh” content. That’s not entirely correct. The idea comes from a misunderstanding of Google’s “freshness algorithm.”
The freshness algorithm promotes new content when it is trending and of the moment.
The freshness algorithm is not about promoting recently published content. It’s about promoting trending content.
The publication date is not a ranking factor. Changing the publication date will not make the web page rank better.
Google’s freshness algorithm is 100% about relevance to users. A fresh web page is relevant to a person searching for the latest information.
Fresh Content is About Relevance
So if you think about it that way, on relevance and being topical or new, then generating ideas for content becomes easier.
Current events like politics, sports and entertainment are important at a specific moment. Anything that is new is a good topics for ranking new pages and building traffic fast. That is the kind of content that Google might rank faster for a new web page.
This is how Google explains freshness within the context of relevance:
“…we’re making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.”
Updating Content vs. Changing Content
In 2018 Google’s John Mueller had this to say about freshness as a ranking boost:
“Fresher doesn’t mean better. Don’t fall into the trap of tweaking things constantly …when you could be moving the whole thing to a much higher level instead.
It’s more a matter of your putting out new content… that’s relevant for people who are searching at the moment and that we’re ranking them based more on that…”
What Mueller is warning about is to avoid changing content in the hope that Google will see it as fresh. There is a difference between changing content and updating content.
Changing content does not make it more up to date. It’s simply rearranging words.
Updating content means making it up to date. That results in content that is relevant in a topic that is changing.
Fresh is About Relevance
SEOs tend to get hung up about being relevant to Google’s algorithm. Publishers can make great strides by focusing on being relevant to users when users need content about new topics.
Evergreen content is information that doesn’t change. For example, the basics for growing a tomato never changes. A brand new website is going to struggle ranking evergreen content against established websites.
But focusing on a trending way to grow tomatoes can be easier. For example, a new method for growing tomatoes that is trending because of social media. People are going to be hungry for more information about that new method.
Publishing content in trending topics is a useful strategy for new websites. It attracts users to the trending topic who may then stick around for some of the more evergreen topics.
Constantly adding content that is relevant to users and doing it on a regular basis is the secret to becoming a successful website. Devoting time to trending content is a good way to get the ball rolling on a new website or a way to keep afloat during the lean times between algorithms.
For more information about freshness and building traffic:
Read: Google’s 2011 official announcement, Giving You Fresher, More Recent Search Results
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