A few weeks after the so called Google Freshness Update most people in the SEO industry are still coping with it and trying to assess the outcome. There are some useful resources out there already but I missed a post dealing with actual measures you can undertake now as a webmaster or website owner to deal with the update.
Thus I decided to collect such obvious techniques and strategies for SEO after the Google Freshness update. By techniques I mean short term tactics to quickly appear and rank in fresh results and by strategies obviously long term changes to appeal to the new freshness algorithm repeatedly.
While during most of 2011 large numbers of SEO practitioners focused on the so called Panda update and accordingly deal with quality issues the freshness update focuses again on quantity.
You can’t write one huge resource now and rely on it to rank for a particular keyword forever in many cases. For seasonal or time-sensitive queries you will need current updates or rather new articles. On the other you still can’t just publish all the time, like a post every hour just to get ranked as the most current one.
The freshness update does not mean that Google already gives up its focus on high quality sites. What we see is that authority sites, in most cases news outlets known for serving news in general or in a particular niche appear more often in top positions.
In a way the search results for some queries now look as if Google News and Google search results have been mixed without the “news” being highlighted in an extra “Universal search” kind of way.
Currently some Google News results appear both on top as “Universal” and in the regular results as well though.
Writing shorter posts
In the early days of blogging blog posts were short. They often contained just a link and a short descriptive sentence. This kind of blogging has moved to places like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr over the years. Blogs are now places where sometimes huge resources or at least well written articles get published. That’s great, but everyone does it and for most major queries a few a-list blogs dominate the results along with the usual suspects like Wikipedia, Amazon, BBC or other news sites. So sometimes writing a shorter post with a more nuanced title and headline may be the solution.
It might also be a good idea to split a larger post. Instead of writing about the 101 link building techniques you could write a weekly or even daily column about one idea each time. Search terms like “link building” or “link building techniques” are not a good example though. On Google.com I see a more than 5 year old post when I search for [link building]. First you have to find out which queries are considered deserving freshness by Google and which not. Google itself suggests topics like sports or current events but also gadgets or cars as likely to be affected by the Google freshness algo.
So what are other common sense techniques and strategies to deal with the new Google freshness algorithm? Let me start with the long term and then add some quick and clean ways to refresh your blog or site at once.
- Set up a blog or update your existing blog more often with shorter posts.
- React to current developments and write news, not only timeless resources.
- Use your content from social media sites you wasted until now as UGC for your own blog or site by importing it. Use Google+ or Twitter as a CMS.
- Add guest authors for your publication and let them submit articles you only have to review.
- Consider curating content and publishing the resources instead of creating it yourself.
- Get your whole team to write and participate in the social media conversation.
- Define what quality means in your industry, does it mean research, testing or is wit and humour maybe enough? Not every post has to be a flagship post.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. The truth or helpful advice doesn’t get stale.
- Hire or pay real business, bloggers, writers or journalists, do not just rely on your team members who have lots of other responsibilities.
- Use and highlight real names of authors to gain authority and to transfer it from authors already known and respected.
- Find out which search queries in your niche are affected by the freshness update and which not by simp,ly searching for your keywords.
- Set up a weekly or daily column dealing with one topic like e.g. “Daily Link Building”.
- Do not compromise your content quality, just reduce the size in order to get more timely.
- Watch Google News, Google Insights, Google Trends and Google Hot Trends for spikes in keyword popularity.
- Use metaphors like “The Manchester United Way of Practising SEO” to piggyback on current events.
- In cases where you can’t add something relevant to the latest news comment on them, express your opinion.
- Update old postings regularly and check for broken links automatically. Once you discover a 404 fix it ASAP.
- Update your WordPress installation quickly and react to other issues Google shows you in Webmaster Tools.
- Reshare your older updated postings on social media to get fresh social signals.
- Create content in advance for seasonal and other predictable events and publish them when the news is hot.
As you see, these pieces of advice above are not about technical SEO or some gimmicks. It’s mostly about good old content creation and newsworthy things to cover. Google relies on fresh content and thus you have to give it to the search engine to please it. Do you have any suggestions for other improvements in the light of the Google freshness update and the still very important high quality update aka Panda? Add them in the comment section!
More resources on the Google freshness update and its ramifications for SEO:
- Does Google Freshness Update Make Online Reputation Management (ORM) More Difficult? | Adam Sherk
- Methods for Evaluating Freshness | Justin Briggs
- Google’s New Freshness Update: Social Media Has Changed the Expectations of Searchers
- Official Google Blog: Giving you fresher, more recent search results
- Google’s “Freshness” Update – Whiteboard Friday | SEOmoz
- Categorizing Your Content Creation for Optimal Freshness and Quality | The Search Agents
- Google Fresh: How Will It Affect Your Site?
- Google Freshness Update : The real winners & losers
* Creative Commons image by Matthew Fang.