Google Freshness Update : The real winners & losers

  • 1
  • November 10, 2011
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

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?