Google Freshness Update : The real winners & losers

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  • November 10, 2011

Searchmetrics published some research yesterday showing the winners and losers of the Google Freshness update but in my opinion the issue is a bit more complicated than this.

The freshness update is like an enhanced version of the QDF algorithm. QDF applied to searches that were trending whereas the freshness update applies to searches where a user is likely to need new information.


The big losers in this update are going to be brands. Anybody who has carried out a reputation management campaign knows that the golden rule is to first move the negative listings down to page 2 and then to take over the brands landscape with strong pages that are hard to shift – sub-domains, twitter pages, wikipedia pages and facebook pages are all good examples of pages that can keep negative results on page 2.

This worked fine in the past (unless there was a huge story that triggered the QDF algorithm) but now that Google is continually surfacing fresh stories the task of reputation management gets a lot harder.

A good example of this is a search for “Prime Visibility Media Group” an agency that has just been acquired by blinkx for £22m. Google is ranking 3 news articles higher than the official site in the organic results. There is a universal search news result at the top as well.

Prime Visibility Media Group

Looking at the brands we work with there are similar trends with fresh results appearing on lots of their brand terms. This is fine until a negative story appears.

Voucher Sites

Any voucher sites that rank for brand terms are going to struggle to stay ranking when news sites write stories about those brands. Looking at search results for a few brands now we are already noticing this trend. The freshness algorithm doesn’t seem to have been back dated (as far as I can see) to older articles so we are likely to only see a change in the brand search results when a new article comes out and is boosted by this freshness algorithm.

As a footnote I should point out that this algorithm doesn’t seem to have been rolled out in the UK as much as in the US. The example Google gave in their blog post was a search for “subaru impreza reviews” which on shows articles which are almost all from 2011 and a few from October 2011. Doing the same search in the UK shows a Parkers article from 2000 and and Autotrader one from 2008.

The “best slr cameras” example is better but there are still a few old articles in there. Perhaps sites are just not publishing articles on a regular enough basis?

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

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  • Madras Geek

    Seriously don’t know on what basis Google really considers these things. Felt so stupid on their statments, and their factors like freshness, quality site and stuff. On what basis do they judge the quality of the article and freshness. What about if a site writes useful off topic which are valuable anytime but not fresh and also sites which doesn’t update regularly but writes unique and quality articles. As you have mentioned, the brands are going to be lost. Only news sites can be gained.

  • Paul

    Brands isn’t something that came to mind but you’re probably right. Is online rep management done altogether then or is it just a case of having ten domains that are “fresher” than the negative listing?

  • Web Design Eastbourne

    Will be very interesting to watch the progress of this update.
    Lets hope it does not expose bad spun article sites instead of good quality older content!

  • Kissline Bun

    Very interesting! Google is really thinking of a new way to rank websites. Google Panda, Google +, Google Business, Google for Webmaster, QDF… What’s next? :)

  • Aviran

    Thats basically just a heads up: UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE is what google wants to tell them.

  • Scranton Web Designer

    I was thinking the same thing. I hope that older good quality search results aren’t hurt by this too much as sometimes freshness isn’t everything.

  • RvE

    First time on your blog, somebody recommended it i should read.
    I love it, i have some reading to do this weekend, hope to interact with you about your posts.

  • Siesta Key Condos for Sale

    Personally I think they are using so many outside factors now that the site quality does not carry as much weight.. in the past it was about indexed pages (Which could be a good indicator of quality), now its how many +1’s and other odd off-site stuff that really should not count like how fresh the page is. I see people in India selling +1’s.. reminds me of the days when people were buying bookmarks. Publish content content for the sake of search results just fills the net with more useless stuff.

    I really think Google needs to focus on more on-site factors. I see some amazing sites out there that do not get the light of day. Some people are just not going to +1 a small local service providers website.It could be a great site and a good company but it gets beat out by the sites that hire the link builders that publishing useless “fresh” content. I dont care for that concept.

  • Manuel

    Atleast this way , all the websites with fake reviews can be wiped out from the first few pages of google but some websites with decent content will take the hit as well

  • SEO Bod

    Why should any search engine have any loyalty/faith/allegiance to any brand. Fresh news worthiness is fine by me rather than the same old brands throwing out the same slanted news from their usual layout. Some brands are good though – wikipedia ruined my education!

  • erotic calendars

    Google has always been go to me. Just follow their guidelines and offer a great service with a good communications message.

  • IT Recruitment

    I think it is clear to see that it is absolutely imperative for brands to ensure they keep to the highest level of service as it only takes one dis-satisfied customer for your reputation to be in tatters.

  • Chester Removals

    Great insight and concisely wrote, You have given us some good information.

  • Personal trainer blackpool

    Very useful article, google has certainly changed many things for everyone in every walk of life. The future is very exciting.

  • Website Translation Services

    Interesting indeed, but the “freshness factor” wears out after a while… Consolidation as a “reputable” site is IMHO more important than being just “fresh” – which does not mean that you should not add new content as much as you can!

  • personal training stockport

    Knowing the environment we are heralded within will always help us ride the wave from Google, Practitioners understand how to use Google those who follow their rules are ethical yet don’t get the best rankings, it’s all to do with blend!

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