Google Freshness Update - what it means for your brand |

Google Freshness Update - what it means for your brand

By Daniel Bianchini / November 9, 2011

Last week Google released yet another algorithm update, and although it wasn’t Panda 2.6 or Panda 2.5.2, it has affected up to 35% of searches. The newly-named ‘freshness update’ is built on the Caffeine update that was launched last year, allowing Google to provide the very latest content.

Google’s Amit Singhal states that

“Given the incredibly fast pace at which information moves in today’s world, the most recent information can be from the last week, day or even minute, and depending on the search terms, the algorithm needs to be able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.”

This seems to be a very timely release, especially in the UK, with lots of hot topics currently trending on the web and on social media, including Frankie Cocozza being kicked off the X Factor, the England poppy fiasco and Carlos Tevez leaving Manchester. With all these topics trending across the web, the freshness update has provided us with the very latest information on the subject from the last day, hour or even minute. There has been a lot of information around about the freshness update and here is Google’s official announcement.

So we know that the algorithm will do the following:

  • Shows the lasted information on hot topics, trending stories and breaking news.
  • Provides the latest information on regular and upcoming events including concerts, Olympics, General Elections, etc.
  • Identify the very latest information on product releases, product reviews and information.

So what does this all mean for large brands?


For the majority of brands I don’t see this having a significant effect on their current rankings, especially those that are targeting very generic terms such as “car insurance” or “tents”. These terms are not generally in the news or terms that would be considered hot topics, but more research queries.

The issue will be where brands target key phrases that are constantly having new content produced, such as product reviews and releases. As a user you will want to see the very latest information on new products and the most up to date reviews. This would mean that the brand needs to devise a content strategy around specific product keywords to ensure that the very latest information is available to the user.

In theory, brands could use the algorithm to their advantage. Staying with the topic of Carlos Tevez leaving Manchester without consent, a sports brand could potentially write some great content about the story and rank well for a short period of time, generating a spike in traffic but also increasing brand exposure to a different audience. The traffic generated might also provide links to help the page sustain some rankings in the future, whilst also creating an increase in revenue from new visitors. All this at the moment is theory, but could it be potentially used as a short term tactic?

What are your thoughts on the latest freshness update? How do you think it will affect large brands? Could brands use this to their advantage by creating content around a hot topic or event to generate a short-term traffic boost? I look forward to hearing your comments below and of course on Twitter @danielbianchini.

Daniel Bianchini


Daniel Bianchini is the Director of Services at Having been in digital marketing since leaving University, Daniel has worked both agency side and in-house, working with many leading UK brands.

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