What Google Thinks About Fresh Content

If you’ve read the Google search quality guidelines that were leaked earlier this year, you might have read a section about content freshness.

Sometimes informational search queries might be about recent or past events and Google trains their quality raters to figure out which queries those are. The guidelines also mention that the content of the page is more important than the date on the page, so even if you’re creating fresh content, it has to be relevant, helpful and high quality.

How Google Raters Choose Pages Based on Freshness and Quality

An official site would be considered VITAL, despite its freshness. A recent news article might be considered RELEVANT or USEFUL and a dated article about an annual event would likely be considered SLIGHTLY RELEVANT or USELESS.

Lets say that a searcher is looking for US Open Golf Results. Google is most likely going to show them the PGA page if they have one for that tournament. Then they might show the Wikipedia page and then other recent news articles from trustworthy sites like the NY Times.

Unless you’re a big site, it could be pretty difficult to rank for something as big as the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Before creating time-relevant content, look at the search results to see who comes up for your terms. For something as competitive as the search queries related to the U.S. Open, you’ll need to create some amazing content, or if you get the jump on an event before other sites do, you might get the coveted RELEVANT designation by quality raters.

Building More Links With Fresh Content

The query examples mentioned in the guidelines that people typically want the most recent results for are elections, sporting events and annual competitions, so keep that in mind when writing content on those topics. I think that it’s important to go back and update posts like this if you can. If its an annual event, make a note in your calendar so that you remember to update it annually.

Regularly updating event pages is also a great way to continue building links to that page. Here’s how.

Say you have a page named http://www.yoursite.com/event-page. When the event comes back around the next year, take the content off of http://www.yoursite.com/event-page and archive it to a new page called http://www.yoursite.com/event-page-2012. Now http://www.yoursite.com/event-page is available for you to add all new content and the page can be promoted all over again. It will maintain the old links from previous promotions and it will get new links from new promotions. You can repeat this every year!

How Does Indexing and Ranking Work at Google?

The way Google previously worked was by crawling the web for a period of time and then pushing those updates out every so often. For example, they would crawl for 30 days, take down an old data center and then push out a new datacenter in it’s place. This is what caused the “Google Dance” that would cause people to become frantic in the forums because their rankings would be jumping around all over the place.

Here’s a great video explaining that and a lot of what the rest of my post is actually about. There is a ton of great info from Matt Cutts here, so watch it if you have time:

There are a few key points that I’ve gathered from the video above.

First is that Google’s “Caffeine” update was created to index the web much more rapidly. Instead of waiting 30 days to push out an update, Caffeine will find a page/document and put it immediately through indexing. This means that now lots of documents can be crawled and pushed out onto the web within a matter of minutes.

Matt Cutts also mentioned a few ranking factors that Google specifically looks for. They are already commonly known, but worth mentioning again.

  • Languages of content
  • Languages of linking content
  • Incoming links
  • Comments
  • Anchor Text
  • Page Rank

So basically what Google does is it after a page enters the indexing phase, it figures out what’s attached to that document – what links are going to it, the anchor text of those links and page rank coming in. It will find all of the signals from various sources and attach it to the page, which will then determine where to rank it.

By the way, I’d like to mention that when Matt Cutts mentions Page Rank, he’s not talking about toolbar PR, but instead the internal Page Rank known only by Google.

The factors mentioned above are only six of the 200+ ranking factors that Google uses. I would suggest you check out SEOMoz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors 2009 for much more thorough list of factors and their importance as voted on by top SEOs in the industry.

Also, note that with the Google “Mayday” update that just recently went into effect, keep in mind that it’s not just about ranking factors anymore. Pages that are low-quality, have small amounts of content or are seen as “thin” by Google are being weeded out of the index. I’ve already seen several instances of this happening with lots of sites, mainly in e-commerce or affiliate marketing. It’s common for e-commerce and affiliate sites to be light on content or containing only short reviews or common product descriptions, so consider adding some valuable content now before you take a hit.

After you’ve added value to your sites, then you can start to think about ranking factors.

The Balloon Boy Is Everywhere!!!

No matter where you’re at, you’ve probably heard the news about the boy in the balloon today. Our sales team at work was hearing about it from our clients over the phone, people were getting emails about it and it was all over Twitter. This was a story that couldn’t be avoided.

Have you seen Google Hot Trends lately? This story has taken up almost every single spot in the list of top 40 searches. At one point it had taken up every single spot except for the very last entry which was “garth brooks out of retirement,” except I wasn’t able to get a screenshot of that one.

Check out the screenshot I WAS able to get. I put arrows next to the searches that weren’t related to the balloon boy/attic boy story.

Hot Trends Balloon Boy

Google Image Labeler Is a Great Time Waster

Google Image Labeler isn’t that new of a service anymore, but I wanted to write a post about it so anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet gets the chance to play with it.

You can start the game either as a Guest, or if you’re logged in, you can create a nickname for better score keeping.

Once you hit the “Start Labeling” button, you’re randomly paired up with someone else online. You’ll both have two minutes to start labeling the same sets of pictures with tags that you believe describe what the images show.

Google Image Labeler

If you’re labels match your partners, you’ll get some points, the amount depending on how specific your labels are.

Once you start playing, you’ll be able to start making guesses, but there’ll be a list of phrases that you can’t use. I don’t know if you’re penalized for accidentally using them though.

I typed ’em several times, because I was just trying to make as many guesses as I could before the time ran out.

When the game’s over, you’ll get to see how many points your team scored and what your partners guesses were for the same images.

google-image-labeler-final-score

I think it’s a lot of fun and at the same time you’re helping Google provide better image results. ๐Ÿ™‚