What Does Google’s Freshness Update Mean For Your Site?

What Does Google’s Freshness Update Mean For Your Site?

By: Katy Ryan Schamberger
January 3, 2012

How Google's Freshness update impacts your siteKeeping up with Google’s algorithm updates can seem like an insurmountable task. And for most of us, it is. Yet the major changes often have an impact on your site and content, and it helps to know what’s going on—and how it affects you.

The more recent update, dubbed the “Freshness” update, was designed to rank newer content higher in search results. Makes sense, right? After all, if you’re searching for a topic, you’re likely wanting the most up-to-date information that’s available—not a post from 2009.

Yet as with any Google algorithm update, some sites are inexplicably hit by the changes—even those who are delivering a steady stream of updated content. Sarah Perez of TechCrunch writes, “However, the sites that lost SEO visibility after the changes didn’t seem to represent any one group, as they also included some brands, blogs, broadcasters and even Google’s own Blogger.com, which dropped over 20%.”

Using (and maintaining) a solid, well thought-out SEO strategy should be enough to keep your site visible despite algorithm changes. In light of the “Freshness” update, there are some things you can do to maintain—and even boost—your site’s visibility.

How To Make Google’s Freshness Update Work For Your Sites

Blog. If your website doesn’t already have a blog, now’s the time to add one. Sure, you can maintain a blog that’s separate from your main site. But if you can integrate them, that’s even better—and it will bring better results for your business, too. Since blogs are created from regularly updated content, it makes sense that blogs will be rewarded by the “Freshness” update. And update aside, keeping your site active with fresh content makes good SEO sense no matter the algorithm. Plus, it entices past visitors to return and stay up-to-date with your company and what you have to offer.

Distribute your content. Once you’ve published something on your blog, distribute it! Sure, the blog is your primary content vehicle—but put other social platforms to work for you, too. Install sharing buttons on your blog so that you–and your readers–can easily post the content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and social bookmarking sites. Each time your content is shared, it becomes new again, and is therefore more likely to continually appear higher in search results.

Mark the time. If you blog, your content should be time-stamped with the date and time at which it was published. Just in case, go back and verify your settings to make sure your posts include this information. This will help Google differentiate between your newer content and older articles, the whole purpose of the “Freshness” update.

How do you deal with Google algorithm changes? Do you revamp your site based on the updates? Or do you prefer to stick with a more timeless SEO strategy that carries you through the algorithm rollercoaster?

  • When you look back at the last few updates to the Google algorithm, it really seems as though this is something that should help push small businesses into the realm of blogging and a robust Social Media presence. I just hope they understand that and take advantage of what is available to them!

  • Anonymous

    I wish more companies understood the SEO value of blogging. Maybe 2012 will be the year that businesses finally understand that content DOES rule! Thanks for sharing.

  • Scott Schaper

    I always thought that Google should place more emphasis on Blogging…effectively rewarding those who work so diligently to provide relevant content to their markets. This is  great step in the right direction and I applaud this update. It’s easy to explain to clients who need to begin reaching out with a blog.  Nice write up…well encapsulated.

  • I hope this new update works and is perceived better than the last one. This is all good advice to keep content high in the index

  • It’s such a simple concept, isn’t it? Yet so difficult to put into practice, especially if you’re struggling to find time to collect ideas and write. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Me too, Clive. Glad you found the information useful. I think one of the keys is that following a sound SEO strategy (and maintaining a pool of regularly updated content) can help keep you visible regardless of algorithm changes. Of course, weird stuff happens, but it’s nice to know that you can generally count on some stability if you’re taking the right approach.

  • Thanks so much, Scott! You bring up a great point – blogging is hard work, and should be rewarded as such. That isn’t to say that bloggers who phone it in and write a bunch of keyword spam should see the same results as those who take the time to create original content, but I agree that it makes sense to increase the emphasis on blogging. And yes, anything that can help explain the benefits of blogging to clients is a huge plus!!

  • My thoughts too, Ken. I think this update can really showcase the benefits of blogging and maintaining regularly updated content – not only writing and publishing, but sharing, too. I hope that small businesses reap these advantages, too – web visibility/SEO can make such a big difference, especially for those who have limited marketing/advertising budgets and resources.

  • This makes sense, and for active bloggers, will be a boon. For some old-fashioned companies it will be difficult to keep up.

  • Shelly,
    Thanks for the tips on the Freshness update. I notice this post has a gazillion categories and tags. Is that good SEO, really? (and where can I learn more about categories & tags in SEO?) Trying to keep up!  —Sally

  • Glad you found the tips helpful, Sally. There’s a fine line when it comes to categories and tags and what’s too much (versus not enough). When I write tags, I think of how people might be searching for the information that’s contained in the post, and use that as my guideline. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, I highly recommend getting a copy of “The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization (Theory in Practice)” – we consider it to be one of our bibles around the V3 offices!

  • Very true, Charles. Those who are already used to the demands of regular blogging will be no stranger to this, but there’s quite a learning curve for those individuals and companies that haven’t had a lot of prior experience.

  • Thanks for the information Katy!  I agree with the others – I’m really looking forward to the day when companies realize how valuable fresh content really is – and see that a blog is the perfect resource to use!  I often find that my clients
    (I work for Compendium – we offer a business blogging platform) think posting to their blog once every month or two is enough.  Of course, I beg to differ.  Do you have any advice on how frequently content should be updated in order to be considered “fresh”?  

  • Hi Allie – thanks for your comment! You hit the nail on the head – many people (and companies) think that sporadic blogging is fine, but in fact, it would probably be just as effective to not blog at all! We recommend a benchmark of 2-3 posts/week for corporate/business blogs. That way, you’re staying visible throughout the week without overwhelming your readers. Plus, if you can establish a consistent publishing schedule, readers will come to expect new information, which helps when it comes to repeated engagement, sharing, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sally,

    Categories is really for your own blog, and to help searchers looking for information find it within your site. And with regard to tags, we didn’t think there were a gazillion here, but we’re the first to say we’re students of SEO, too. So we’ll check it out with folks who know more.

  • Anonymous

    At the risk of sounding like a harda**, Charles, old-fashioned companies need to understand this … and step up to the plate. It’s not just for “active bloggers” … and by the way, I’m a business owner, not a blogger. Blogging is something I do – part of our content creation strategy – as part of our overall integrated marketing efforts. I think the same should be true for many businesses – regardless of their size. Unless, of course, they aren’t interested in staying around.

    See … I AM a harda**! Thanks for coming by … I always enjoy the process of sharing brain cells!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you, Ken! It will be interesting to see what happens. That’s for sure.

  • I think,

        * it will become much more important to announce new contents very early after publishing. Use XML Sitemaps!
        * Early birds will win – not reputation.

  • Pingback: The Best Small Business Marketing News & Blog Posts of the Week — January 6, 2012 – DIYSEO()

  • Anonymous


  • totally awesome answer – I have been “writing” since I was born, and too am a business owner a few times over. I have been blogging for a while now so that I can keep a presence in case I ever need to fall back on it.

    Panda has been awesome for that purpose, imho

  • Anonymous


  • At the end of the day, it all comes down to providing visitors with quality content that is fresh and updated. That should never contradict SEO