This Week In SEO 31
Fresh SEO, Google Buries Yelp,
and Technical SEO


New Google Freshness-Based Ranking Patent

Google makes their love affair with fresh content a bit more official recently, when they were granted a patent based on the concept of “freshness based ranking.”

Freshness Based Rank

A patent granted this week for Google discusses the concept of “Freshness Based Ranking” and is named that. It not only looks at whether the query in question might prefer a fresher result, but also older results, and could boost both types of results based upon what seems most called for.

The search engine might try to determine that a query is of particular recent interest by looking to see if there has been a number of occurrences of the query:

  • Being received within a recent time period;
  • On blog web pages within a recent time period;
  • On news web pages within a recent time period;
  • On social network web pages within a recent time period;
  • Requesting news search results within a recent time period;
  • Requesting news search results within a recent time period versus requesting web search results within the time period;
  • User selections of news search results provided in response to the query; or
  • More user selections of news search results versus user selections of web search results within the time period

No one wants to read a blog post from 2013 when they are trying to figure out who won the World Series in 2015. Long-suspected as ranking signal, freshness of the content gets a very public fist-bump from Google. If only there was a case study that would illustrate how this new patent might affect search results…

What We Learned from Testing Content Freshness on 13 Blog Posts

freshness results case study

A “user generated content” post from Moz shows a bit of a case study where they took 13 blog posts that were ranking for some keyword or another, made those old posts fresh and then tracked the results. The interesting thing is not just that the rankings and visitors improved—it’s that the click through rate, impressions, etc. did not:

Overall, general organic traffic improved. However, looking at data from Google Search Console, the blog posts did not improve in terms of clicks, impressions, nor keyword rankings. There was a slight improvement in average click-through rate, from 0.57% the month before the experiment to 1.40% for the month after. The reason for this result is likely that the chosen site did not rely on traffic from blog posts, which means they did not have large amounts of traffic before the experiment.


Will Google Start Reading Text in Images on the Web Soon?

Text in image patent

Some pretty damn cool stuff here—really shows why Google continues to dominate the search game. Here is some info on Google’s new ability to read the text in pictures. Or, to put it a bit more scientifically: “identifying matching canonical documents in response to a visual query” a patent, which focuses on visual queries. The patent alludes to Google being able to read text in images and then indexing that content. Your Pinterest skills are about to become a LOT more relevant…

I had some hope over the years that Google might get better at indexing text that appeared within links, watching some things like the following happen:

(1) Google acquired Facial and object recognition company Nevenvision in 2006, and a few other companies that can recognize images.

(2) In 2007, Google was granted a patent that used OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to check upon the postal addresses on business listings, to verify those businesses in Google Maps.

(3) Google was granted a similar patent in 2012 that read signs in buildings in Street Views images.

(4) In 2011, Google published a patent application that used a range of recognition features (object, facial, barcodes, landmarks, text, products, named entities) focusing upon searching for and understanding visual queries, which looks like it may have turned into the application for Google Goggles, which came out in September of 2010 – the visual queries patent was filed by Google in August, 2010, the nearness in time with the filing of the patent and the introduction of Google Goggles reinforces the idea that they are related.

But, Googlebot still doesn’t seem to be able to read text in images for purposes of indexing addresses, or to read images of text used in navigation.


Google ‘bug’ buries competitors Yelp and TripAdvisor

yelp rank problems

Convenient bug in algorithm serves Google’s own interests… not surprising they’re being investigated in the EU. Executives from Yelp and TripAdvisor are raising the issue on Twitter that their companies’ websites are getting kicked pretty far to the bottom of the local search results, even when the query specifically mentioned the company.

The changes looked like an aggressive move on Google’s part to seize traffic, even from those users who clearly intended to visit a particular site. But responding to a query from Recode, the company indicated that that wasn’t the case.

“The issues cited were caused by a recent code push, which we’re working quickly to fix,” a Google spokeswoman told reporter Mark Bergen.


Technical SEO 2015: Wiring Websites for Organic Search

site structure

Stop arguing about the color of your SEO hat and read this article on technical SEO. The unsexy-but-important (and so often overlooked) aspect of SEO could be killing your site. If you’ve never done any technical SEO to your website, it probably IS killing your site. Check this post out, and then take notes. Make sure your site is doing everything it can to help Google index, crawl, and rank what you’ve got.

If Googlebot cannot efficiently crawl your website, it will not perform well in organic search. Regardless of your website’s size, history, and popularity, severe issues with crawl accessibility will cripple your performance and impact your ability to rank organically. Google assign a resource ‘budget’ to each domain based on its authority (more on this later), which is reflected in the regularity and depth of Googlebot’s crawl. Therefore, our primary goal is to maximise the efficiency of Googlebot’s visits.

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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