By now the news regarding Google’s latest “freshness” update is no longer, well, fresh. But the implications and far-reaching impact of the latest algorithm change have yet to be seen. With that in mind, I thought it might be a great time to review how these changes affect the strategy for content development and why writers everywhere ought to raise their coffee cups and rejoice.
Warm Cookies Indeed
The inherent logic behind the update is spelled out in the official Google blog post. The basic theory is that “Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent”. With the completion of last years Caffeine indexing system, Google was able to sort through their voluminous network of sites to quickly and efficiently provide the user with “fresher” results faster. This latest update builds on that foundation and is designed to better determine how “fresh” the results for a specific search query ought to be. Basically, the lightning fast indexing that Google is capable of means that searches will now be able to yield higher quality results that may be only a minute or two old.
No One Still Does the Robot, Do They?
A common caveat in content creation is to write for people, not for Google bots. This has always been a no-brainer for savvy and successful article marketers, and despite the new focus on “freshness,” will continue to remain essential to driving traffic and social sharing. Pumping out hundreds of farmed-out articles a year that no one wants to read will prove unsuccessful in the long run. Similarly, going back through your index of blog posts and changing the original post dates to more recent ones will do nothing (sneaky sneaky!) because Google’s “freshness” determination is taken from the first time the page was crawled rather than the date it was posted.
The Search Engine Journal reports that “Google’s going to use a combination of search ranking factors to help qualify when it wants to trust something is both fresh and good.” What these factors are remains a mystery, however, you can be sure Google wants bloggers and writers who create consistent, relevant, and interesting content to be able to reach a wider audience sooner. And isn’t that the point of all this content sharing anyways?
So we know that in order to stay relevant, we need regularly updated, fresh content. It won’t be writing itself, so a quick high five to my fellow literati praying for the day we can quit our restaurant/barista jobs and put pen to paper (fingers to keyboards?) full-time.
It all sounds well and good, but quality written work takes time and research, and not every client has a product that is conducive to weekly (or daily) compelling content. In order to stay relevant and still offer value to the notoriously fickle digital information consumer there are a few tools at your disposal:
A great tool for tracking who, what, and where your topic is being discussed online. SocialMention scours over 80+ social media properties including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Youtube, and Google+ to offer you a comprehensive view of the most important users/sites/hashtags/keywords relevant to your search. Utilizing this data can be huge for generating ideas for subject matter that is relevant and “fresh” as well as providing a resource of users who are established and authoritative in their respective field. It’s exactly these types of users whom you will want to initiate a dialogue with for generating links back to your amazing content and maybe even recruit for a guest-blog relationship.
Another helpful search tool, Google Insights for Search helps track search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames, and properties. When writing for local business clients it is great for narrowing down keyword specific searches according to their region to discover what actual people are actively searching for.
Using the Rising Searches feature in Insights is another awesome way to generate ideas for new articles. Insights provides you with a list of searches that have experienced a significant growth in a given time period which can then be used as a guide for what’s trending in your industry.
For example, I did a worldwide search for “surfing” across the last 90 days. “Tahiti surfing” is our top rising search, up 250% in my set time period. If I were trying to generate ideas for a blog post on surfing, I could simply do a quick bit of research and discover that one of the biggest swells in recent history hit the island of Tahiti about 2 months ago. Top pro’s from around the world were on hand to test themselves against the conditions and Nathan Fletcher rode what many have been calling the “heaviest wave ever” at Teahupoo (pronounced Cho-Poo). For this reason, surfers worldwide are searching for news and info on the swell, and the savvy writer will be channeling their efforts to tap this great, organic source.
While not always this simple, you can see the value of these tools for generating relevant ideas to keep your writing “fresh.” As always, great content will manage to share itself because there will be something inherently valuable to the reader. But you can stay ahead of the game by doing your due diligence to research what, exactly, the reader is currently considering valuable.