According to Google, the Freshness Update launched in November 2011 affected around 6-10 percent of all search queries. The Google update aimed to better reflect the topicality of certain events in the search results. Google’s own example: If someone searches for “Olympic Games”, the current or upcoming Olympic Games will be displayed in the top positions, but not the Games of 1904.
Website freshness as a ranking factor
With the Freshness Update, according to nonprofitdictionary, Google adapted the algorithm of its search engine and thus added a new ranking factor. In simple terms: If the content on a page remains the same for a long time, if it is not changed or if no new backlinks are added, the website receives few “freshness points”.
In contrast, there are several factors that can increase the “freshness points” of a website. It should be noted that Google does not give absolute information, but rather explains the specifications for the freshness update in relational terms, i.e. compares websites with one another. “Freshness points” are only determined when comparing two (or more) websites, but not when the website is viewed by Google alone.
Freshness is not relevant for all websites
Even if freshness has been one of the Google ranking factors since 2011, that does not mean that you now have to constantly update your website content. Rather, the point is that the algorithm should recognize whether the user wants or needs an up-to-date result for his search queries and whether certain website topics / content always need fresh content.
The freshness ranking factor is therefore particularly relevant for news websites or websites that deal with trends and hot topics. Pages that deal with recurring events should also attach great importance to the topicality of their content.
Everyone else should focus more on timeless content – so-called evergreen content. Although it can make sense to go through the contents from time to time, then it comes down to an update or to the addition of some aspects, e.g. the link to more recent studies.
How does Google measure the freshness of a page?
From Google’s point of view, the following differences are important when it comes to the freshness of content:
- newly posted content
- thematic topicality
Of course, Google does not disclose the exact parameters for measuring freshness. However, based on the results of search queries after the update, it is possible to guess what influences the assessment of the topicality of content:
Contents of a page can lose relevance for Google , the older the posting date is. In practice, however, this is only relevant in special cases: In fact, this only applies if other websites dealing with the same topic have been created in the meantime. All other things being equal, the new website ranks better than the old one because it is assigned more “freshness points”. An older website, however, often has more “ trust ” than a new website and usually also has more inbound links. These ranking factors can therefore be more significant.
Changes to the website
If the content of a website is changed extensively, this can also have a positive effect on “freshness points”. Not when the changes are minimal. There are no precise dates as of when a change to the website counts for the freshness update.
Here is a quote from the patent application:
“Also, a document having a relatively large amount of its content updated over time might be scored differently than a document having a relatively small amount of its content updated over time.”
Frequency of changes to a website
A website that regularly updates its content and checks that it is up- to-date is more likely to benefit from the freshness update than a website that very rarely updates its content.
Subpage creation frequency
How often a domain creates new subpages is also a factor that Google takes into account in the freshness algorithm. Websites that create new subpages more frequently in relation to other websites will get a better freshness score than websites that create new subpages less frequently in comparison.
Changes that affect less important content on a page
If the less important content of a page, for example the imprint, elements in the navigation (but not the navigation itself), or “below-the-fold” content is changed, this also has less of an impact on the freshness score. The situation is correspondingly different when changes are made to the primary content of a website.
The rate of backlink acquisition
Websites that can show an increase in new, organic backlinks are more likely to benefit from the update. For the search engine, this is an indication that the website has relevant content.
Links from websites with a high freshness score
If a website receives links from pages that themselves benefit from the update, this has a positive effect on the website’s freshness score.
Changes to anchor texts
A very interesting and important point: If the anchor texts of the backlinks of a page change comprehensively, the old links can be devalued, as there is no longer any thematic relevance. This in turn can have a negative impact on the ranking of the website.
If the content of a page changes extensively (e.g. because it has been sold) and backlinks are now generated for “windows” instead of “baby food”, the old links can be viewed by Google as irrelevant and invalidated.
User behavior on the website
If the length of stay on the website rises or falls within a certain time frame, this can have a positive or negative effect on the ranking.
A schedule for events for 2013 will result in fewer users staying in 2014. In 2013 the subpage had a positive freshness score, which will fall again in 2014.
New content is no guarantee for a good ranking
Google understands that old websites with old content can contain more relevant information than new websites (e.g. historical data about a certain event). In this case, Google will adjust the freshness score of an old website in relation to the average freshness score of the pages of a certain SERP.
Freshness is not relevant for every website, or at least not relevant to the same extent. If it is a matter of pages that are primarily about new information, e.g. news websites, then new content should appear here constantly, namely on current topics. For websites where there is little demand for the latest content, timeless content is usually sufficient. But make sure that all information is up to date here too.