From the Trenches

What Will Smith Can Teach You About Google’s New Updates

Will Davis | November 11, 2011

When I hear “fresh” I think of Will Smith and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (I’ve probably gotten the theme song stuck in your head now). In the late 80s and early 90s, “fresh” served as a synonym for cool, unique, or just all around great. Even more importantly, the Fresh Prince has grown up–when Will Smith makes a movie it consistently hits the top of the box office list. Fast forward to 2011 and there’s no doubt that whether we’re talking music, movies, meat, or beer born on date, fresh is still the way to go.

Freshness and Search Results

Google may not be as “fresh” as Will Smith or the MC Hammer Search Engine (yes, seriously). But, last week, Google added search results to the best-when-fresh list with a major update to its algorithm. For many sites Google is a kingmaker (or Fresh Prince maker?), and this update certainly affects all SEO, social media, and content marketers. The goal of the change was to give you fresher, more recent search results. On its official blog, Google estimates the changes will impact approximately 35% of searches, or 3.9 billion searches a month (according to September 2011 data). To put that in context, that is almost 3 times larger than the Panda update which impacted 12% of searches, and people are still talking about Panda’s impact.

What type of searches may be impacted? To quote directly from Google:

  • Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy Oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old.
  • Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information.
  • Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information.

Consistently Creating Great Content Makes You Fresh and “Fresh”

In light of these changes, how do you make sure your potential customers continue to find you?  How do you make sure you rise to the top of the search results like Will Smith’s movies rise to the top of the box office lists?  The new Google update makes having the proper content marketing plan and program in place even more important, because your content must be not only “fresh” as in cool and timely, but fresh for search.  Of course, frequently and consistently creating high-quality content will continue to be one of the most effective ways to engage potential customers once they find you. But now, an active and consistent content program will be an even more important factor in helping potential customers find you to begin with – just like Will Smith has 15 projects listed as in production for 2013.

So how are you planning on becoming the Fresh Prince of your search category? Is this update changing your content marketing plan? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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