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Google may be the world's most widely-used search engine, but that doesn't mean that it's perfect. Indeed, the past several years have seen a growing number of complaints from users and experts alike relating to the quality of Google search results.
More recently, it appears that Google has focused much of its efforts to improve on weeding out spam and the low-quality content made famous by content farms.
But a new update that the company revealed yesterday shows that Google isn't just focusing on minimizing the amount and prominence of cruddy content in its index.
As detailed by Google fellow Amit Singhal on the Official Google Blog, the company wants to make sure that Google can keep up in today's fast-paced world:
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.
Enter Caffeine, the faster indexing system Google released last year. On its own, Caffeine allowed Google to index the web much faster, ensuring that the information in its index was fresher. But what to do with that information?
Google's new Freshness update, which Singhal says affects approximately 35% of searches, is designed to ensure that the latest information appears in search queries that are time-sensitive, such as those related to news, current events and recurring events.
For instance, a search query about a football match might surface the current score and liveblogging posts if the match is in progress since Google assumes that's going to be most relevant to you. On the other hand, if you're searching for information about the first computer ever built, you probably don't care when the content was produced.
Needless to say, the Freshness update seems like a sensible move by Google as it seeks to make search results more relevant. For publishers and SEOs, on the other hand, it may be more of a mixed bag as Freshness is just the latest in a growing number of changes to search that mean the SERPs are more dynamic and what's in them harder to predict.
The good news, of course, is that publishers and SEOs don't need to do too much analysis to figure out Freshness' primary implication: if you're producing timely content on a regular basis, you'll probably do better than if you're not. The challenge, of course, is finding the right balance between quality and speed. For Google to really produce a better experience, it can't ignore the former as it rewards the latter.