Fresh is best for Google

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Google freshness algorithm update

Google has outlined details of a major update that it claims will affect a third of all searches.

The change has come into effect this week and is designed to provide users with more recent search engine results pages where appropriate. It centres on the existing Google freshness algorithm, which helps determine whether results are up-to-date or not so that, for example, a search for 'Olympics' returns results for next summer rather than previous competitions.

Google's latest innovation utilises the much-vaunted Google Caffeine system - a web-indexing project unveiled last year that enables faster crawling and indexing of pages. The company estimates that the new algorithm will affect approximately 35 per cent of results.

How the new Google freshness algorithm works

The new Google freshness algorithm is supposed to be better at determining when users want the most recent results, and when they want results that have stood the test of time. In its official blog post on the subject, the company identified three areas where this would have a significant impact:

  • Recent events or hot topics - Google claims that breaking news on topics like the 'occupy Oakland protest' will now be given greater prominence on search engine results pages
  • Regularly recurring events - Search results for events that crop up on a regular basis such as 'presidential election' or 'Exxon earnings' will be revamped as well, with more weighting towards the most recent occurrence
  • Frequent updates - Google will also make more of an effort to show up-to-date results for information that changes frequently, such as searches for 'best SLR cameras'

Explaining the changes, Google fellow Amit Singhal said: "This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers."

Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, welcomed the change. "The principal of trying to return more recent search results is a sensible one because users often don't want to trawl through authority pages that are several years old," he said. "More often than not, fresh content is best."

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