Google enacted a new “freshness” algorithm update which is looking at the timestamp of content. This equates the most recent content with relevance to determine what to show the top Google search results.
The freshness update could work well with certain websites such as queries producing search results including content from a website such as the New York Times. The update may also work well with certain types of content such as important news and social topics.
What is the Google freshness update doing? In simple terms, it’s been reported to look at the timestamp on the sitemap of the published content. Google is far smarter than that, so I suspect it’s a lot more complicated and looking at a lot of additional pieces of information together with the timestamp.
It’s easy to think of ways to make this update more sophisticated to prevent people from abusing the system. If Google was only looking at the timestamp, it would be a simple matter for people to game the system.
Google stated that the algorithm update will affect 35% of search queries. The problem is that 35% is a very big number. While the algorithm is probably far more complicated than just simply looking at the timestamp, this still seems like something that is easy to abuse. This will be one more item that Google will have to continually improve while chasing after the bad guys.
For those websites providing content on news and other hot topics which will be affected by the date, this will be a big news item itself. Companies with lots of money to pay lots of writers to continually pump out new content, such as the Huffington Post, will greatly benefit by this update. Companies with a more limited budget and fewer writers will not be able to compete for the top Google search results unless they focus on niche areas of news and interest.
Hopefully, Google will confine the freshness update, and successfully restrict it, to important news and social items. If it is applied to search queries that do not involve hot topics, we will likely find spam websites in the top Google search results when using a search query such as “pancreatic cancer treatments”.
Additionally, when researching anything other than a hot timely topic, I don’t necessarily want to find content that was just added. Besides, if you want recent content Google already provides a control on the left side of the page allowing the user several choices to find recent content such as Past Hour, Past 24 Hours, Past Week, Past Month,Past Year and a Custom Date Range.