THE ROLE OF FRESHNESS IN GOOGLE PAGE RANK
With well over half of all search queries still being done on the Google search engine, the effect that changes to their search engine algorithms have on website can be staggering. The changes depend on what the think tank at Google quality assurance believes search engines users are looking for from their searches. This is often an intuitive process and follows from general leaps in logic that the general business public is not aware of. This doesn’t mean that businesses are at the mercy of Google search, just that they need to be able to react to the changes quickly. The latest set of game changing algorithm changes has been dubbed the Penguin update.
The Penguin Update
Launched on April 24 of this year, Penguin was designed to combat web spam, or so that’s what Google claimed. What it really did was place extreme emphasis on new content. Many web metric analysis sites found that for the first five days that a web page was indexed in Google, it received an inflationary value. This often meant that new pages would end up on the front page of SERPs for several days before reverting back to the standard space that they would normally inhabit. This concept was dubbed “freshness.” The freshness concept is nothing new; it began back on Sept. 11th 2001 when there were literally hundreds of thousands of searches for “World Trade Center” and “Trade Center Attack” and there was no pertinent information available to Google users. This led to Google doing more frequent web crawls and its never-ending goal to provide up to the second, quality information to its users.
How Google Judges Performance
Google is notorious for being vague on the inner workings of its search engine crawlers. They like to say things like, “We value quality content,” and “everything we do is to give our users more relevant results.” This leaves those of us in the business of SEO to look for patterns and determine what Google is actually doing this time. Well, Penguin seems to have taken the idea of social media as a quality determining tool. This means the better a piece of content does on a social media network, the higher it is going to rank on a SERP. This doesn’t mean that the content is actually high quality at all; it just means that people are sharing it with each other, and Google deems this as a way to give the end users what they want. If you want to maintain higher results in your SERPs, you need to create content that is likely to be shared by social groups with one another. Because members of social networks tend to focus only on the latest things to hit the web, freshness becomes a huge ranking factor. And thus Google has chosen to use it in its algorithm by awarding new pages an artificially inflated starting position.
Why Freshness Matters
It seems that this artificial SERP bonus allows breaking news stories to be indexed and shared faster than before. It allows them to gain momentum and be seen by members of the general public and web authorities. The goal is to get a faster determination of the actual worth of the page. After the five-day run, Google reindexes the page based on its performance in the initial release period. So why does this matter to a business with an established web page? The inflated worth of a web page also inflates its linking power. Linking to your site with a more powerful page helps t raise your ranking or, at the very least, not slip any. The question then becomes, ‘how do I get fresh pages to link to my main site?’ And the answer is quite simple, write new content frequently and link it back to your domain.
Keeping Freshness Up
Keeping freshness up can seem like a daunting and potentially budget breaking task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have the time to write your own content and post it to a company blog once or twice a week, you can keep yourself relevant in the brave new Google world. But what if you can’t? Are there options for business owners who simply don’t have the time to devote to writing or aren’t great at putting their thoughts down in words? In fact, there are.
Even before the Panda and Penguin updates hit, there were companies dedicated to creating content for the web. These companies often have pools of writers that specialize in all sorts of different niches. You can contract with one of these media creation juggernauts and choose from plans that give you content for your company’s blog, your Twitter account, your Facebook page or any other area where you might need to have content written. The major drawback here, these content creators are not cheap. This has led some companies to outsource their writing to non-native English speakers. Unfortunately, this usually ends up badly as the content that is produced is sub-standard and Google penalizes the domain that carries it.
Still, finding a high-quality writer to produce content for your company is of the utmost importance. If you can continually produce high quality, unique content, Google will reward you with higher SERP rankings, and higher SERP rankings mean more visitors. And the only way a person can become a customer is to first be a visitor.
What is Velocity?
While posting once or twice a week on a company blog is a good place to start, the real power of the freshness of content comes with velocity, or the frequency of posts. The more fresh posts you have linking to your domain the greater its velocity, and the higher your domain SERP will be. This means having a blog post a day and several Twitter and Facebook posts as well will help you take full advantage of the Penguin update. All of this can be done in–house if you hire a very prolific staffer to become your social media writer. If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to such a staff member, you can outsource this social media management as well. Sometimes the content creation juggernauts also offer these services.
Understanding that importance of fresh, quality content to your SERP return should lead you to create a social media network that is updated frequently. This is the only way to stay ahead of your competition in the Google dominated world.