Google Freshness Update

The Google Freshness Update was a comprehensive and permanent update of Google’s ranking algorithm which caused the certain search requests to be answered with more current and newer search results.

The algorithm update was deployed in early November of 2011 and affected 6% – 10% of all search requests, depending on the language and country.

The Freshness Update (algorithm update) should not be confused with Google Caffeine (infrastructure update). The Google Caffeine Update is the reason why Google is now able to quickly index and present new and up-to-date content.

How to determine when a search request needs up-to-date information

Google’s primary objective is to be able to deliver results for time sensitive search requests. As each and every search request has a different need for up-to-date (current) search results, it is important to identify the type of search request beforehand and weigh the results accordingly.

Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.

– Amit Singhal, Google Fellow

For this, Google differentiates between three categories:

  • recent events or hot topics: Someone who is searching for current subjects, like “job market Germany” will predominantly find up-to-date content on Google’s search result pages. If a subject is being “hotly debated” on the online and/or offline media, there is a high probability for the search request to receive an up-to-date and current result.
  • regular updates: Search requests for events that happen on a regular basis do not have to contain the current year to receive an up-to-date search result. This means that the results for search requests like “Superbowl” or “Olympic Games” usually refer to the most current events.
  • frequent updates: For search requests on topics that change quite often, Google wants to be able to provide more up-to-date content. A search for “best android smartphone” predominantly gives you results with the latest information on this topic.

“Freshness” as a ranking factor?

The algorithm update plays its part in making sure that news pages and current content on portals or blogs rank before outdated/past results (chronologically speaking) during times of heightened public interest. Having purely new content is insufficient for this, though. The content still needs to be subject related and of high quality.

Video response from Google / Matt Cutts on the Google Caffeine Update

Additional information on the subject