Constantly attempting to deliver picture-perfect results to millions of people on billions of searches, Google’s efforts to maintain its reliability for everyone is ongoing and challenging. However, Google has figured out a way to better their search results. It’s called QDF, and I’m about to dissect the Google Freshness score by decoding what’s inside their patents.
Query Deserves Freshness
In November 2011, Google released the QDF update, or Query Deserves Freshness, referred to simply as the Freshness update. This update impacted over 30% of all search results, some negatively and some positively.
Google’s biggest challenge for ranking content in its search results is whether users are searching for content that’s evergreen or that needs regular updates. To understand how this will affect your website and your content marketing strategy, you need to know how the Google’s Freshness update works.
Google launched its Freshness update with the intent of determining whether search results should be prioritized with newer content over older content or whether it’s evergreen, meaning that newer content doesn’t apply. For instance, if you’re looking for the latest sports update, it applies. If you’re looking for a cooking recipe, it doesn’t.
Now that we know what it is and can understand why, Google rarely releases information about its updates. For good reason, they want to maintain the integrity of the search results. However, the data that Google collects can be found deep in the Google patents they release publically. Let’s examine a few.
Dwell Time Score
Dwell time refers to how long a visitor stays on a webpage. Google has a scoring system that incorporates the average time on page and compares it to all of the pages in the query. A major factor is first visit and second visit. If the first visit is longer than the second visit across all the pages, the QDF update will make sense in the search results. (Google patent US 8224827 B2)
Content Update Score
Content update is a scoring system that calculates how often content is updated by all of the webpages found in the results. This time-sensitive update evaluates all pages in the search results vs. your pages and ranks accordingly. For example, if a basketball game just ended, the injury reports on the players will be the latest updates from reliable resources. You need to determine how often content should be updated in your industry. (Google patent US 8112426 B2)
Website Score and External Links
This part of the update examines the freshness of the websites linking to your content. If the links to a page on your site are old and stale, the value will begin to decline to allow newer, fresher pages to the top, making SEO an ongoing activity if you wish to remain competitive in your industry on Google. (Google patent US 8082244 B2)
Inception Date Score
Google examines two things with this score: When was the webpage, content, or backlink first published, and when was it first indexed in the search results? Google has a variety of ways to determine the inception date. They may require a threshold of five backlinks to a piece of content before the inception date is established. (Google patent US 8521749 B2)
Other Ranking Factors Affected by the Freshness Update
Rate of Received Backlinks Score
This scoring system measures the number of backlinks that a webpage receives over time. It focuses on when the webpage or content was created as it relates to the timing of the backlinks and if over time the backlinks decrease or increase. This is another reason why SEO is an ongoing process. This prevents a website from getting all of its backlinks at once and continuing to rank. Backlinks earned consistently over time will outperform in the long run. (Google patent US 20110022605 A1)
Traffic of the Backlink Score
Google has a scoring system that examines the power of a backlink based on the traffic to the website where it’s located and the flow from that backlink to your website. When a backlink is posted about your webpage, are real people actually clicking it? Google has a way of determining this answer. (Google patent US 20130124304 A1)
Google will continue to focus on freshness, and this impact has forever changed online marketing in search engines. My key takeaway: The importance of keeping your website fresh for SEO is to be consistent with releasing your content over time, consistent with sharing the content for earned backlinks, and hiring a professional to do this work for you. You have other things to worry about—like running your business.
The Stream SEO team is on top of the latest developments with the search engines. That’s why Stream clients continue to dominate when ranking above their competitors. Is it time to see what Stream can do for you? Download our SEO checklist to start the conversation.
Dan Woods SEO PR Coordinator at Stream Companies. Nothing happens until you’re on the first page.