Google is at it again! Always seeming to keep marketers on their toes, the search engine constantly updates its algorithm in an effort to ensure that searcher get the best sites possible when conducting search queries. In this way, whether they are searching for local preschools or printable coupons, people should get the best and most relevant results.

Tentatively called Google Fresh, the new algorithm update evaluates online content based upon its freshness—in other words, how recently and/or frequently it has been updated. This “freshness” will be determined by the inception date of the document and when it first started appearing in search results, and can be dated from the first time that the site was crawled, or the date that a link was first discovered. The more up-to-date a website and its content, the better it will rank with Google.

When added to the updates already made with the Panda algorithm, in which Google is able to read at a 10th-grade level and determine relevancy and content quality, this newest algorithm increases the value of relevant content that is constantly being updated.

In a video made for SEOmoz, Rand Fishkin and Mike King attempt to make sense of these new changes from Google:

Mike: So far what we’re seeing is it’s 35 percent of queries, but I think people are expecting that to mean 35 percent of keywords. That’s not what’s happening. So we’re seeing it on a lot of head terms. For example, here’s a SERP that we saw for football. What we’re seeing is really recent posts being annotated to the SERPs, so they’re having 8 hours ago, 3 hours ago, 18 minutes ago.

Rand: When they say affects 35 percent of search results, and we’re seeing, like, boy, it feels a lot more subtle than Panda. A lot of SEOs are like, “Boy, 35 percent of queries. You said Panda only affected 11 or 12 percent.” Something feels disconnected. Talk about the difference between affecting keywords versus affecting query volume.

Mike: Right. When they’re saying 35 percent of queries, these are words that people are actually searching for. It’s not necessarily just every keyword in the keyword universe. […] So it could be a much smaller set of keywords than we’re talking about here.

In simple terms, the Google Fresh Update will affect upwards of 35% of searches, but not in the way that most SEO and SEM companies expect. Rather than changing the game entirely as Panda did, Google Fresh is more subtle, ensuring that casual keyword mentions are not so casual anymore, and are used on a regular basis in order to keep content as fresh as possible.

As a pointer to marketers, Rand and Mike offered the following words of advice:

Rand: We’ve got some takeaways for marketers here. One of the ones, tell me about this, “Watching Your Important SERPs for Signs.” How do I check this? How do I check whether I’m going to be affected, and what search results should I be watching? If we’re talking about most important SERPs, we’ve got to be thinking about things that drive the most conversions, the thing that drives the most traffic, and the thing that drives the most engagement. And then for fresh and time saved content, basically if you’re seeing . . .

Mike: Blog posts.

In other words, most of what has worked to date will still work after these changes. Google Fresh only serves to further streamline the search process and further weed out poor-quality content. This will narrow the playing field substantially, as do most of the Google algorithm updates, but for those who want to stay ahead of the game, having a full understanding of this newest update will give you an edge on the competition, making this a great opportunity for top marketers.

Joseph Baker, Guest Blogger

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