After surviving recent Google Panda updates, I thought that my blog would never be affected by Google’s algorithm dance as I am always trying to provide good content to readers. However, it seems to be not enough for Google and they just announced another change in the ranking algorithm. The new change can help users a lot but absolutely will bring giant headache to webmasters and bloggers. Specifically, it is affecting seriously the organic traffic to my blogs and makes me desperate. Therefore, I see the need to write this article to notify bloggers about the update and its possible effects to their sites.
Google’s New Algorithm Update
Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, announced on the official Google blog that there has been the new freshness update in the search engine algorithm. It is built upon the Caffeine web indexing system, which is used to crawl the mass and complex contents quickly, that Google completed last year. Depending on the search queries, the new algorithm will decide which one requires the most recent results. Therefore, newer indexed posts will have more chances to get higher ranking so that searchers can easily find up-to-minute relevant information for their queries.
If you own a website with evergreen content, trending topics, recent and recurring events or any other topics with frequently updated content, you don’t need to worry much because the freshness update won’t affect all queries. Each search query has a different freshness level and the algorithm is designed to distinguish those kinds of queries.
For example, if you do a search for presidential election or NFL scores, the algorithm will understand that you need latest information, not the results from years ago. Of course, you still can find older information by setting a custom date range in Google’s search tools. On the other hand, when you search for some evergreen information such as pizza recipe, the freshness level is set lower and some years old pages could get higher ranking on SERPs.
Effects of the Freshness Update on my Site
The updates is stated to affect roughly 35% of searches on Google and my site can’t escape this time. For the last few weeks, the organic traffic to TechWalls has dropped dramatically by about 40%. It used to get over 4,000 pageviews but now it’s got just over 2,000 views daily. For instance, my pages got very high ranking for some keywords related to the new smartphone Motorola Droid Razr because I publish an article about it very soon. However, the situation has changed very fast and some brand-new articles could beat my post easily.
This is just one of many important keywords my site has lost in the last week. The poor performance really makes me disappointed and it could lead to a significant decrease in my online earnings this month. Anyways, this change is necessary for Google searchers including me and I have nothing to complain about it. Moreover, old websites dominating some important keywords now have less advantages and there are now more chances for new websites and bloggers to compete for high competitive keywords.
I also have some ideas in mind to deal with the freshness update and will try them soon next week. If they are successful, I will absolutely share the solutions with all readers. At the moment, I just recommend bloggers to work harder and write more quality and useful content, the solutions could work in all cases.
Is your website affected by the Google’s ranking algorithm update? How will you fix it?
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Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com says
Hm this sucks :( Sad to hear it. I think I’m slowly seeing a tiny decrease in traffic as this algorithm gets rolled out.
Though I guess in terms of Google’s, you want to have the most accurate results as you can, which I understand. Just bad for us bloggers who provide the contents and monetize it
Tuan Do says
I believe the update will affect most tech blogs and maybe we will need to work harder in the upcoming time to gain the traffic. Anyways, new blogs will benefit more from the change and I think it will be better for the blogosphere.
Anyways, it’s great to see your blog is almost not affected, it proves that it must have high quality content. :)
Interesting post. Pardon my ignorance but what is the definition of “freshness”?
When a page is created or when a page is updated? If the latter, then bloggers can benefit by encouraging comments as these would count as updates and new content surely.
Google has had the QDF – Query Deserves Freshness – algo for some time – which is why some nice new posts/pages do so well – for a while at least.
This latest change might be tilting the scales in favour of blogs rather than static websites even more than was already the case.
I do hope that your new strategies work for you and you don’t lose any income as a result of this.
Tuan Do says
Thanks for your info, Hamish.
I didn’t know that Google had the Query Deserves Freshness before. I always tried to publish technology news very soon to get some advantages in ranking, and it worked very well until last week.
You are right, the freshness is counted when a page is updated as well, so I guess increasing discussions is also a good solution to deal it with. You’ve revealed one of my solutions. :D
I have similar experience with you. My main site visitor drop almost 50% :( I know that my niche is no need to update frequently.
With new ‘panda’ update do I need to change my niche to frequently update like News? or better I wait for ‘panda’ to final update? any thought
Tuan Do says
I’m sorry to hear about your site’s visit drop. How could your site be affected when your niche doesn’t need frequently updated news?
Sometimes we should forget about Google’s changes and concentrate on developing content.
Thanks for the info on this update, had not heard of it before. Appreciate the added info. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the many (and varied) changes Google puts into place, it’s almost become a full time job to keep up.
It makes sense to have a sort of filter to distinguish between query items that require newer results versus older – however I can only imagine the tech needed for such a tool and the tech needed for it to be accurate.
p.s. Did you get the guest article I sent your way last week? Please let me know its status, as I look forward to seeing it on your site. Let me know.
Tuan Do says
The news sites will require more work to get better ranking now because of the update. I will need to spend more time to write new posts daily here.
I receive a lot of guest articles every day and I couldn’t read all of that. I’m gonna check out your article soon and let you know via email.
Nice post Tuan! I have the same issue with you since one of my most important article has been sightly decrease in the SE index. Sadly indeed :-(.
Perhaps I have to focus on contributing more fresh articles in the time to come.
Tuan Do says
It’s very sad to see the backward step of our blogs. I thought I was on the right track but everything has changed now. :(
Best of luck for your site and hopefully it will soon be recovered.
This is really a very important issue and I am sure that pretty soon, people like you will find adequate solutions to tackle this problem. For now, I have not suffered that much on my sites, although, my online store got pretty mush hit. While I agree that it is far better for users to have more updated content, I am still unsure as how this will play for “other” type of older content.
A question. Do you think that the “permalinks” structure that includes dates is no more appropriate than not having them? Or will Google still be able to differentiate the “time stamp” even if it is not part of the permalink…
Tuan Do says
As I mentioned above, some sites with evergreen content don’t need to change much because they won’t be affected. The change doesn’t mean that we must publish new blog posts everyday. I guess owners of news site will have to work harder in the upcoming time.
I read somewhere that the permalinks structure that includes dates is unnecessary because Google determines the published time of a blog post from the time stamp in WordPress. Therefore, even when you change the date in permalink, Google won’t change its time stamp on SERPs.
Btw, I’m glad to hear your site is still working well. :)
Tung Tran says
My organic traffic was tripled lol, mostly from a post about installing cyanogenmod 7 on android.
Tuan Do says
Wow, that’s amazing, Tung.
You have great writers providing quality content there and that’s what helps increase your site’s traffic while many others are seeing the drop.
Jym | Blog Marketing says
I don’t see it as a bad thing. Good for the internet overall, for sure.
I haven’t checked, but I’ll probably lose some organic traffic streams, but I suspect being regular publishers of fresh content, most bloggers stand to gain from this change.
I recommend checking out Rand Fishkin’s discussion which covers the implications of Freshness and includes some interesting points, including QDF which Hamish mentioned above:
Nice write up mate – one thing’s for sure, Google is changing the rules, and our strategies (some more than others) have to change as well.
@Francisco – I don’t think the permalink will have any effect. Seems like the date of publishing for a particular page is the crucial factor here…
Tuan Do says
Thanks for adding some great information about QDF, Jym. This is an interesting video that I need to check out. There is an important link on the page as well, it mentions some Google’s methods to evaluate the freshness. SEO is really not easy as many people think, we always need to change our strategies and watch Google’s changes closely. :)
Alvin Lim says
My blog is having this issue too. Losing more than 50% organic traffic from search engine on 14 Oct 2011 until now. Most of the keywords had been lost in ranking. Typing exactly the same title on search bar and my blog shows in 3-5 page or completely not found.
When I analyze the Google analytics, it seems that googlebot is crawling all my old pages. The crawl rate is increasing everyday. I try to delete some old posts and tags. It doesn’t help much either. What I did now is continue writing new posts everyday and I start seeing traffic gain slowly as it goes. Guess need to work more hard. Hopefully my blog will recover soon :(
Tuan Do says
Yes Alvin, I guess many tech blogs have been affected by the freshness update, especially the ones that are updated less frequently. That’s the reason why I’m trying to write at least one post per day and hopefully it will help.
It seems like your problem is more serious than mine. Hopefully you will gain better traffic for your blog as well. Good luck.
Alvin Lim says
Yeah. The funny thing is that a blog which copy content exactly(including hotlink images) from big sites is getting rank higher than mine as it is publishing copied content several times a day. Guess googlebot still can’t differentiate between copied and original content in this update.
Hope your blog is doing fine soon too.
I usually write one post per day to make my blog freshly. One of my blog back to zero after panda updated but 1 month later get back normal SERP
Google needs to make sure that what a user looks for, that the actually get it. For many years people stuffed their keywords with anything they felt would direct traffic to their sites – names of celebrities, hot topics, products that were unrelated. There was once a time when it was easy to find what one was looking for on-line, it was a golden age. Then came all the unrelated material, as everyone wanted to make a quick buck. The internet needs to be a place where one can easily find what one is looking for, without plodding through a heap of meaningless muck that has nothing to do with anything. Though the Panda update does create a bit more work, I think it will be for the best when it comes to relevant content – it will make a more useful internet with a nicer user experience. I think that those whining loudest are the ones that caused the Panda update. People, companies, whomever…need to take more time to ensure that a users finds what they are actually looking for. If one’s page is optimized correctly and one has relevant content relating to the searches that brought people to one’s page in the first place, one has nothing to worry about. If you want a bunch of irrelevant keywords driving traffic to one’s site one is only going to annoy people. Use organic seo services if one wants ones site’s traffic to grow. It will take patience and time, but if one sticks with the guidelines laid out by Google, one will see results – not immediately, but they will come.
Web Development, Web Companies says
I usually write one post per day to make my blog freshly. What a great article. I have share this articles to my friends. This is an amazing articles. I have shared to all my friends.
holiday lodging says
Hi Tuan,You mentioned dates in the permalinks but what about just removing the published date information for posts? Have you tried this?
Tuan Do says
Yeah, I have tried removing the date info before but I didn’t see any effect, maybe the experimenting time is not long enough. I added the date info again after receiving some complaints from readers. Some articles on my blog are news posts and it would be very confusing for readers when they don’t know when the post is published.
Virginia Divorce Attorney says
Google keep modifying its formula so its really important to deal with new technology while your are really think to defeat your competition in internet Google.
Hi,my site is affected by this change and here i find the reason why the traffic is decreasing,is there any good way out of this and keep the content fresh besides add replies?
Tuan Do says
I think updating your outdated posts or linking to them is also an effective way to keep your content fresh. :)
Thanks for your info,and i will encourage more replies and plan ro remove my content to forums for better interact,and make more relative content cross linking
[email protected] says
I agree that giving readers a fresh content is important, but there are some types of content which cannot get any fresh – example “What causes acne”. Now how can that be updated? Or Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal – how will you change that. Almost all known side effects are now known to the world. Can you update it?
I understand that mobile, technology, computing, Internet fields are ever changing and need to be updated, but as far as medical science is concerned, only the researchers and doctors in will know what is the latest. Until a fresh authentic data is published, general people will take that with a pinch of salt. And you cannot publish such content in your site. So where does this leaves us?
I don’t know when will Google give us some respite for a period of at least 6 months. In April only we survived Penguin update, and now this freshness update! It is impossible to please Google. My traffic has dropped to almost 10% within 3 days!! Sometimes I feel it is a perpetual trap. Google comes up with these updates –> makes the bloggers get more work done on their sites –> economy keeps rolling. After all its a business.
This is how I see this or perhaps I am confused about the freshness update…
Persian and Oriental Rugs says
I may be wrong, but I think if you depend on your website as a source of income, Google updates will force you toward using pay-per-click advertising. After all, they are always looking for new ways of income generation.
“there are now more chances for new websites and bloggers” You meant new posts not new sites right? I don’t think new sites will have any more chances to rank then it used to. It’s much harder now to get Google’s trust.
Anyway, nice post!
Oh and i see you removed dates from your posts. However, i read a great post somewhere saying Google uses the date setting in time zone in wordpress to determine the post freshness. Thanks
Tuan Do says
Yes, I mean updating new blog posts, not creating new sites. The age of domains also counts to higher ranking, so I never encourage making new sites, it will just waste money.
I remove dates from my posts because majority of my blog posts are not news, so the date is not necessary. It is not to serve Google. :)
my site entertaintechnomania.com affected from google new algorithm 2013 and my site is not crawling and indexing in google search and webmaster tool.. any idea what should i do…