Data Intelligence, Business Analytics
Google announced they are rolling out a new search algorithm change that helps make the search results “fresher.” The big news here is that besides for the results being fresher, the results will change for about 35% of all searches.
Fresher results can make for more relevant results, which is why Google moved over to the caffeine infrastructure last year. That was only an infrastructure change, to make sure Google can index, crawl and return results faster. Now Google changed their search algorithm to show fresher results, fresher than ever before.
We completed our Caffeine web indexing system last year, which allows us to crawl and index the web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today 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.
That is larger than the Panda update which impacted 12% of the searches conducted.
What type of searches does it impact? Google said:
Postscript From Danny Sullivan: Had a chance to get some questions answered from Google now, plus some addition issues, below….
It’s not new for Google to do a boost of fresh content. “Query Deserved Freshness” is a content ranking factor that dates back to 2007. The Caffeine update of last year made it possible, Google said, to gather content even faster, which in turn could potentially be ranked better.
So what’s different now? Apparently, freshness is getting even more rewarded, having an impact on one out of three searches. That’s huge — though it’s unclear what it was before. For all we know, 35% of searches were already being impacted by freshness ranking. The previous number was never stated (and yes, we’re checking with Google on this).
Postscript: Google says the change is providing “fresh” content for twice as many queries as before. In other words, the old “freshness” algorithm had an impact on about 17.5% of queries. Now it impacts double that figure, 35%.
There are potential downsides. Sometimes you do want to reward fresh content. But what’s fresh? If someone simply makes a small change to a page, does that give it a fresh boost? If someone reposts exactly the same content on a new page a day or two after initially posting it, is that fresh? Is when the page was first found define freshness, or is the first modified date used?
Does this open Google up to an even worse situation than can already happen with Google News now, where publishers file and refile stories in an effort to win the freshness race there, since the latest versions of stories often get top billing.
Rewarding freshness potentially introduces huge decreases in relevancy, new avenues for spamming or getting “light” content in. Most likely, Google’s going to use a combination ofsearch ranking factors to help qualify when it wants to trust something is both fresh and good.
Google wouldn’t say how “freshness” is being determined, but it did tell us in response to questions that being fresh wasn’t the only thing being rewarded:
Freshness is one component, but we also look at the content of the result, including topicality and quality.
Postscript: Google now tells us that one of the freshness factors — the way they determine if content is fresh or not — is the time when they first crawled a page. So if you publish a page, and then change that page, it doesn’t suddenly become “fresh.”