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How does Google consider freshness and what does it mean for the rankings?

When we look at how Google determines the “freshness” of content, they look at the following types:

  • Topicality of a subject matter
  • New (freshly published) content

Topicality of a subject matter

The “up-to-dateness” of a piece of content is related to trends and news:

With the help of Google Trends you are able to determine the search volume for any keyword over time. For the keyword [mercedes a klasse], the search volume peaks in September of 2012.

Google Trends shows that for the search request [mercedes a klasse], the search volume peaked in September of 2012

Google Trends shows that for the search request [mercedes a klasse], the search volume peaked in September 2012

This can be explained by the launch of the new model in September of that year.

The SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) reacted accordingly and pushed thematically suitable content, which was also useful to users, to the front. Due to this, we see both an article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung – published on August 27, 2012 – as well as a YouTube video – published on July 17, 2012 – enter the SERPs for the keyword [mercedes a klasse].

SERP-archive of the calendar week 37/2012 for the keyword [mercedes a klasse]

SERP-archive for the calendar week 37/2012 for the keyword [mercedes a klasse]

Toobox-Link: https://de.sistrix.com/seo/serps/keyword/mercedes%20a%20klasse/date/201237

Both pieces of content are on the subject of the “new Mercedes a class” and were published a few months before, but only received a spot on the Top 10 in September.

Ranking development of the keyword [mercedes a klasse]

Ranking development for the keyword [mercedes a klasse]

The article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (www.sueddeutsche.de/auto/audi-a-vs-bmw-einser-vs-mercedes-a-klasse-kopf-an-kopf-rennen-in-der-kompaktklasse-1.1448480), published on August 27, 2012 ranked on position #9 in the calendar week 37/2012, and on the 4th spot in the following week, 38/2012. In the calendar week 39/2012, it already fell to position #27 and was replaced by a subject-page on their website (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/thema/Mercedes_A-Klasse) in the fourth week of September. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung article had a comeback towards the end of November 2012 and ranked on position #11 for a short time, but fell out of the Top 100 ranking over the following weeks, leaving the SERPs for good.

The YouTube video from the “Deutsche Welle” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=11sRfcrAowk) was published on July 17, 2012 and suddenly ranked at #10 in the SERPs in the calendar week 37/2012. The following week, the video was replaced by the official TV-ad from Mercedes Benz, but returned to the SERPs at position #6 in the calendar week 39/2012. Until the end of October 2012, the content remained in the Top 10, with the exception of the calendar week 40/2012, until it was replaced by another YouTube result.

Therefore, both pieces of content have in common that they were both published before the peak in public interest (see the Google Trends screenshot above), both are on the subject of the Mercedes A-class and both entered the Top 10 SERPs in September (at which time, both pieces of content are not considered “fresh” or “up-to-date” in connection to their publishing date anymore). Both results did not manag to achieve a similarly good ranking either before or after the short-term peak.

We can assume that Google saw a topicality for the subject in both pieces of content and put them into the Top 10 of the SERPs for the subject “mercedes a klasse”, during the peak time of public interest (September). The QDF ranking algorithm also plays a part in this, among others.

New content

When we talk about “new content”, for now, we are not referring to the topicality of a specific subject, but the constant publishing of new content on a domain.

If a domain keeps up with publishing new content and is additionally crawled at an above average rate, with the content being indexed, it can be considered “fresh” by Google. To determine the “freshness” of content, Google uses the date on which the content was first crawled and therefore discovered by Google.

This means that, in the course of the Freshness Update, a domain with these signals in the category “frequent updates” could be awarded a slight advantage, as long as the reputation and relevancy of the domain are given.

(It is quite possible that these signals were also played their part for the domains we mentioned above and their ranking in September, 2012.)

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