Live From SMX East: Tapping Into Google's Love of Freshness

By Evan Levy | Oct 4, 2010
More Articles by Evan

This afternoon I attended a session about Google’s love of freshness in search results.  Speakers included Kenny HyderJanet Driscoll Miller, and John Shehata.

Here are some of the main take-aways:

QDF – (query deserves freshness) – is something unique to Google and part of their algorithm.  This is the part of Google that determines what’s “hot.”

With this feature, you can outrank much larger sites like newspapers or brand staples (Ex. MLB).

QDF has been made more relevant by the caffeine update.  This makes search results 50% fresher, and makes it easier to get great rankings because of timing and relevance.

Google Insights allows you to monitor how frequently keywords are being searched for.  This data will help you determine when you may be able to take advantage of QDF and score some exceptional ranks.  Insights allows you to make graphs and include up to five keywords, making it easy to monitor.

To take advantage of QDF, there are some things to remember:

First, establish whether or not this specific story is something you want to be a part of.  If not, it’s fine to leave it alone, but make sure you want to be associated with this topic.

Next, you need a blog.  Write a post as soon as you can, and use the keyword in the title tag and throughout the body just like you would for standard SEO efforts.  The title tag is starting to be used as anchor text for links in Google.

High Traffic, High Competition

After the caffeine update, results can change by the hour, or faster on high competition terms.  So how do you stay at the top?

Be the authority.

Links: quality and quantity.  Make sure to not only have a lot of links, but also a good quantity of good links.  Also, variety will help you stay at the top, the more places you can link from, the better.

Brand Mentions:

Try to get some brand mentions that are different from your links.  You want to imply brand authority and maintain high mentions on top of link efforts.

Fresh Content:

This content doesn’t have to be on ranking page, but does need to be new.  You can use blogs, news feeds or, syndicated content to do this.  Also try to take advantage of press releases and off-site content

Google Cares About Freshness:

New technology helps some servers update almost instantly with links about relevant content.

To determine hotness, Google looks at query demand, number of blog posts, hot topics in news, social trends, and a few other signals.

When ranking real time search results, they use many social networking sites, site authority, user authority, microblogging freshness, number of followers, quality of followers, etc.  It’s not about how many followers you have, it’s about WHO is following you.  Impact and influence is key.

To check if you’re “in the fire hose,” look to see if you’re there, search twitter with the phrase “from:” and insert your user name after the colon.  If nothing appears in the search results, you’re not going to be shown on Google.

Make sure it’s easy for people to share your information.  It’s also a good idea to limit the number of social networks you offer.  Pick the ones that work best for you, or where your audience spends most of its time.

To get retweeted, try to not go over 120 characters to save room for the RT@ user name that is added.

Key difference: It’s not about tweets, it’s about retweeted links.

Plan for seasonal keyword trends.  You can even make a season SEO calendar to plan for specific terms and topics.

GoogleNews offers different suggestions than a standard Google search.  GoogleNews suggest is a great place to find out what people are searching for on a given topic.  Also, avoid looking spammy.  Don’t use a lot of buzz terms and limit your hash tags to only what’s necessary.


Are there certain content types (video, etc) that are prone to freshness more than another? — Google likes media, images, etc, so the more you can include the better, but it’s not necessary.

Is there more or less value associated with the old/new style of Retweeting? —  It’s harder to track how many retweets you have with the new version, but the statistics are hard to measure precisely because of formatting issues.  You can write tweets with a unique word you can track as opposed to the user name.

When trying to refresh content, remember that the date is important.  If you’ve already created content that has become relevant again, change the date or repost it to help bring the freshness back up.

Do link shortners’ links help as much as a standard link from a site or tweet? – Link shortners don’t always help.  These services often do not use 301 redirects, or can recycle the link to your content stripping the link of any long-lasting value.

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