Have you ever done a Google search, looking for the latest news or information on a given topic, and been presented with web pages created 5 years ago. It’s an all too familiar situation.
It appears Google might trying to address the increasing irrelevance (in terms of recency) of their search results with a new search filter – that lets users specify the age of the search results.
Accordingly to a post by Cheezhead, who first noticed the new Google test, searchers will be able to specify how “new” the content is, that’s displayed in the results. Users are offered the following predefined age brackets:
- within 24 hours
- past week
- past month
- past 2 months
- past 3 months
- past 6 months
- past year
As Joel pointed out in his post, the results displayed are very different from normal search results. When the “recency” filter is used, blogs and news results are much higher in the rankings – which is to be expected considering they are generally more time relevant than static web pages.
So what does this new “recency” filter mean for traditional websites?
Google has always placed importance on regularly updated content, and this new filtering will help them give searchers more control over content “age” as a measure of relevance.
For static website owners – my recommendation would be to start a regular overhaul of your web pages. In doing this, you’ll encourage Google to re-spider your pages more often, and in turn the Google Algorithm will recognize when your content was last changed. It might also help to add “Date Modified” or “Date Updated” information on each page also. I am guesstimating that Google will incorporate “date” content as a measure (somehow).
As a fundamental practice, website owners should be using their Google Sitemap to let Google know of new pages and the rate at which existing pages are updated. For information on sitemaps – visit our “DIY Tip – Make Sitemaps Work for Your Website” post.
Now its early days in Google’s “recency” filter testing, and unfortunately I was unable to replicate Joel’s observations to explore it further. But as users seek more relevant results and instant publishing tools like blogs continue to grow in usage – this “recency” filter will become an essential part of the search process.