Google’s Freshness Algorithm: Major SEO Change

Google Freshness AlgorithmGoogle’s freshness algorithm is out! This is a major search engine change by Google. In fact, it is more major than the last Panda Update which affected a very high number of search results. This was presented on Google’s official blog today. The announcement says that the freshness update affects up to 35% of the searches. This is huge.

As its name suggests, the freshness algorithm is aimed at bringing in results that are ‘fresh’, i.e. more updated. This is a natural move from Google, when people are so active on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and thus used to getting the latest updates and information. Don’t we all log into Facebook just to see what major is happening across the globe, apart from looking for the cute kitten and the annoying game requests? Well, now Google wants to be that portal.

The feature is pretty neat and should help people a lot. From an SEO perspective, I am not too sure how this will pan out since this is too early in the day. However, I think it is not that major a change for most of the internet marketing type of sites. However, don’t be surprised if one of your ‘pillar articles’ is displaced from the throne (aka first rank in Google) because Google thinks something more recent is more relevant.

This might not cause as much an uproar as Panda did in the SEO world, but it is a very important update that every blogger and internet marketer should be aware of and prepare accordingly. Also, this was important enough to get front page web coverage from New York Times which usually reserves such news to the bottom annals of technology news.

Of course Google will now need to act quickly in collecting data and determining how relevant it is to be shown in the search results on the top. This is of course not easy, but nothing Google does usually is. How this pans out in the end will be interesting to see. I think a lot of smaller sites that were designed around displaying the ‘live scores’ for example will be hurt very badly.

At this point, I would guess that fresh content will become even more important from an SEO point of view. Google doesn’t like stale information. Keeping your blog updated with quality information is one way of telling the Big G that you provide fresh and up to date content to your users. This might become even more important in the long run.

Also, if your blog has been affected by Google’s freshness algorithm, you should consider more ways to promote your blog, especially on social media which has constant updates. So for example if you want to rank high for certain live scores, you should try to provide exactly this rather than just having the keywords in your title. In addition, you might want to have a widget showing the live scores and perhaps publishing some information on to social networking sites too.

As more information becomes available, I’ll write a more detailed strategy of how you can benefit from this algorithm change and how you can protect yourself. In the meantime, I would love to hear your comments.

Google Analytics not provided Keyword

Google Analytics not provided KeywordWhat’s up with Google Analytics not provided keyword? I was surprised to see this as one of the major source of traffic for my site when I tried to check into my Google Analytics account. Along with the regular keywords, it shows a (not provided) keyword. This was quite surprising because the search analytics data is very useful for webmasters in determining what kind of traffic comes to their site.

So I looked around and found the official post from Google. You can find the post in the official Google Analytics blog titled Making Search More Secure. Essentially, what the blog post said was that for users who are logged into their Google accounts, the default setting is the SSL search setting. With this, the data is hidden from Google Analtyics and the webmasters cannot know the query. However, what the webmasters do know is that the visit is from an organic search result.

The Reaction

The reaction all over the web, especially from webmasters and SEO experts was that of shock. I don’t think too many people are happy about this. After all, keyword data is a very useful tool that all webmasters use. This data can be used to improve a site and the experience for the users. If I know that most of my readers are coming to my blog to know about freelancing, SEO and making money online, perhaps I will not write articles about the economy or about gardening.

SEOBook had written a scathing review, titled, “Google Whores Out Users With False Privacy Claims” of the whole process, and they point out a very good issue – Adwords users are unaffected! “Google cares about your privacy, unless they make money on you, then they don’t.”, reads the article. How true. In addition, do remember that Google still owns all your search data.

Further, the article claims and makes a good point that Google has taken the move only to turn away competition from accessing the data. Apparently competitors like Chitika are becoming more and more efficient in using this information.

How Will it Affect You?

If you are a webmaster, this could definitely affect you significantly. The news is still fresh and it is hard to know how much it is going to have an affect. People might always come up with ways around the system, like getting an Adwords account or something else that works with Google. If the case that SEOBook makes against Google is sound, it could be possible that some anti-competition or anti-trust regulators might be noticing.

The (not provided) keyword information from Google Analytics is definitely a tough one to digest for webmasters. It is an information black-box through which you cannot see. It represents a good segment of your visitors and you will never fully know your audience now. It is kind of sad because such information empowers webmasters.

That being said, even without this data, there is still a ton of other data available through Analytics that you should be able to utilize as before. Also, perhaps it is time to move beyond just the keywords anyway, and look for other promotional material. Or may be not.

Can Data be Interpolated?

I am not too sure about this. with the (not provided) keyword, Google is just lumping all these keywords into one. Now, you might lose access to some lucrative long-tail keywords. This information is hard to research and Analytics was a great tool to go out and hunt for these. After all, what better way to search for keywords than going through the list of what actual users typed and found you.

Also, I don’t think it will remain very statistically balanced, i.e. it will be hard to interpolate data (unless you have a million visits a day to smooth out the bumps). Some keywords might be more susceptible to show up in the not provided keyword category while others might not.

Alternatives and Future

I am not too sure about this, but I have a feeling there will be a few follow up posts – it is a big news and big change from Google.

If you are a webmaster and blogger interesting in making money online, you still need the best SEO tools. Try out the Keyword Winner WordPress Plugin which is extremely helpful and convenient in giving you all the SEO information in one place – your blog! On the other hand, if you want an accelerated ranking and fast forward through the SEO process, try SEO Elite. I’ll let the product speak for itself.

What are your thoughts on this new change?