Tapping Into Google’s Love of Freshness

October 4, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

We’re back from lunch! Are you? I hope so.  It’s time to talk about what everyone has been talking about lately – Google’s obsession with freshness. Leading us on our journey are Janet Driscoll Miller, Kenny Hyder, and John Shehata. Danny says that Kenny is the reason we’re all here. He’s submitted to speak at SMX a thousands times (aw), but Danny never went for it. However, he really, really liked this one. Good going, Kenny! :)

However, Kenny’s not starting things off.   That honor goes to Janet.

She’s going to talk about Query Deserves Freshness.  It’s been around since 2007 and its unique to Google.  It’s part of the Google algorithm. It determines which topics are hot. It examines news, blog stories, and the queries in Google.  It tries to find information that is fresh about that topic and brings it to the top.

QDF In Action

She did a search back in July for the Home Run Derby.  Up first was a blog about it from some guy with a blog. (hee) It outranked a NY Times article on the topic and the official MLB site.  He was able to do that because of QDF.   This is a great way for small business owners to “win” in search.

QDF is much faster to achieve because of two things:

  1. Caffeine Update: It launched in June 8, 2010.  50 percent fresher results for Web searches. According to Google: Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is publishes than was possible ever before. [WOOHOO!  Sorry…]
  2. Social Media: Twitter!  Google can find out faster about stories you’re writing on your blog via the links being passed around on Twitter.

How can you identify QDF opportunities?

She likes to use Google Insights for Search.  Once you’re in Google Insights, set up everything you want to look at it – then take the Embed This Chart code and place it on your site to create a dashboard so that you can monitor what’s happening on a regular basis. Janet uses some examples using NASCAR-related keywords. [She’s from the South, so she likes the NASCAR.]  She shows how you can use the graphs to determine trending topics so you can identify spikes and take advantage.  Pretty cool.

Things to keep in mind:

  • You can only use five keywords in a graph
  • Insights only updates every 24 hours
  • Use your SEO keywords and competitor keywords in the graphs

Other possibilities for monitoring:

Google Trends

  • Can pull the RSS feed
  • has the top 20 most searched topics – updates every hour. They may not match your categories, keywords

Twitter Trending Topics

  • Constant Updates
  • Keywords tend to be shorter, broader due to 140 character limitations

How can you take advantage of QDF opportunities?

  • You need a blog
  • You need a Google Sitemap – Use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin
  • Write a blog post immediately – Use keywords in the title tag and throughout the body. The title tag becomes the anchor text for links from Twitter.  Ensure you do on-page SEO
  • Spread the word – Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages

Next up is Kenny Hyder.

After the Caffeine Update, Google started playing around with results changing them by the hour or even more frequently for search results that were high traffic/high competition.  A few weeks ago he took a few screen shots for [loans] at 9am and shows us how everything was ranking.  By 10:45am, the top 5 have changed.  At 11:30am, the top 5 are the same, but the bottom results are all brand new results that weren’t on the first page at all.  Four minutes later, the results are all different again.

How can you help yourself stay on top? Establish yourself as the authority through:

  • Links
  • Brand Mentions
  • Fresh Content

Links: We’re looking for Quality AND Quantity.  He doesn’t mean you need lots of quality links (which would be great), you actually need to build both kinds of links.  You also need consistency with your keywords.  Once you take on a keyword, you’re only going to want to increase your efforts. Your budget will always increase, it will never decrease for any one term.  You also need a variety of types of links. Just getting links from all blogs or all directories isn’t going to work. You need links from all over the Web.  Don’t spam — but do what you’ve gotta do. He’s not condoning anything.

Brand Mentions: Different from links, one does not always imply the other.  Imply brand/domain authority. Positive sentiment!

Fresh Content: Don’t have to be on the ranking page, but it does have to be on your domain. Blogs, news feeds, syndicated content.  Off-site fresh content like press releases, write ups, etc, is also good.

It’s not very difficult but you need all three of these things, not just one. It takes a lot of effort and organization to get all of these things working all at once for one term.

Next up is John. His logo is a scary spider. DO NOT LIKE!

Does Google care about freshness? Absolutely!

  • Google Caffeine/Mayday update
  • Google reindexing news within 12 hours
  • Google offering “more search tools” focused on dates/times
  • Google.com/realtime
  • PuSH -pubsubhubbub

Like Kenny, John also has screenshots. His are of Ford.   He shows how the SERPs change when there’s suddenly news results related to Ford. There’s a News box that kicks in, images, real-time updates, videos, etc. It’s pulling in all the fresh content.

How does  Google determine hotness?

Traditional Ranking Factors:

Real-time search: The most relevant, up-to-date content for a topic of recently increased interest.

They are similar to traditional rankings factors:

  • Domain authority = user authority
  • Blogging freshness = microblogging freshness

Reputation & Popularity

It’s not about how many followers you have, but by WHO is following you.  Influence is the likelihood that a Twitter user will either retweet something that has been written or mention the user.  Google (the Twitter account) has 3x the impact than Bing on Twitter, even though Bing has slightly higher engagement.

Other possible factors

  • Recent activity
  • User name
  • Age
  • External links
  • Tweet quantity (STOP JUDGING ME!)
  • Rations of followed vs follow
  • Lists

How can you optimize for it?

  1. Check the fire house: Go to twitter and search [from:username]. If there are no results, that means Twitter has filtered your results out [ouch]. If they have, your tweets won’t appear in Google. Target influential users. You can go to a site like pulseofthetweeters.com and it will show you who started various trends.
  2. Get your fans/customers to share your brand on social services: Limit your sharing options (he suggests only having 3-4). Make it easy for your readers to share your links, tweets and status updates. Don’t hide your buttons behind the story.
  3. Encourage RTs: Make your tweet less than 120 characters so people don’t have to edit you to RT it. Don’t update multiple accounts. You want to build the authority from one account. It’s not about tweets, it’s about retweeted links.
  4. Produce content that appeals to social-savvy audience
  5. Create content that encourages new users to engage
  6. Connect your social profiles
  7. Attract reputable, topically-relevant followers

How to identify Hot Trends

If you have a blog, try to have an editorial calendar.  If you know there will be a spike for a certain event, plan ahead for it, knowing what keywords you’ll use.

Don’t spam:

  • Do not create content with multiple buzzing items
  • Do not abuse shortening services
  • Don’t use too many hashtags

And we’re done!


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