Much is being written about the difference between ‘freshness’ and ‘relevance’ in Google’s search results. Much of this discussion stems from Google’s own ‘freshness’ update in recent weeks. There are a couple of points that are well worth noting now when it comes to search results. These include:
What you see is not what you get. Checking search results has become a bit hit and miss over the last 12 months. You and I can type in the same search term and yet come up with completely different results. Our differing locations, our previous search and surf history, and that ‘freshness’ factor all affect search results. It’s almost impossible to now proudly claim number one position for a search term since that ranking isn’t across the board.
Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. What is relevance? After all, what is relevant to you could be totally irrelevant to me. Again, time and location are important. Chris Crum on WebProNews wrote an article about this issue, using his own search criteria as an example. I used the same search criteria that he used, and came up with different results again.
Search has never been perfect. Whilst this is probably not an acceptable point to many, with billions of pages on the Internet, search is never going to be perfect. Using Chris Crum’s example, whilst the term he was searching for wasn’t ranked at number one in the results, it was ranked at number three. Google probably is over rating fresh content, however, the biggest complaint in the past was the staleness of results. Old out of date pages were ranking highly simply because of age and the number of inbound links they had acquired.
The current preference for freshness over relevance is creating problems for many businesses, especially when freshness is delivering inaccurate results. If you’re search rankings are being underminded by fresh content, I wouldn’t panic too much just yet. I would look closely to ensure my content was up-to-date and not stale, and that my content was relevant to my readers. If it isn’t, then it may be time to publish more relevant content – and it’ll be fresh too.