The coronavirus crisis has pushed the world into a new phase dominated by the acronym VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This has had a major impact on user behavior and due to this, search engines have had to adapt quickly to respond to emerging concerns with solvency.
It is in this context that the Google Query Deserves Freshness positioning algorithm comes into play, which has gained prominence in the current situation.
Query Deserves Freshness, Google’s response to novelty
Unlike the recently released Google BERT, the Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) algorithm already has a long history in the set of systems that define organic positioning, given that Google launched it long ago, in 2007, updating it in 2011.
However, this algorithm is more active today than ever before. It analyzes the user’s search patterns to detect when they are trying to access current information and when they are not. This way, the objective of Query Deserves Freshness is to reorganize the result pages so that they give priority to those that fit the most recent search intention.
Therefore, Query Deserves Freshness is activated when Google registers an unusual increase in search volumes or citations of a particular topic mainly in three environments: magazines and blogs, media pages and direct queries on the search engine.
At the moment, this Google algorithm is playing a key role in reframing SERPs in countless searches highlighted by the current reality of COVID-19. Both the coronavirus crisis and the de-escalation have modified the search intention around very broad themes such as those related to personal finances, work issues, sports and personal care, education and leisure inside and outside of home.
In general, according to the examples analyzed with the SEO Sistrix tool in Spain, the Query Deserves Freshness has introduced transactional pages in the search results that previously included mostly blogs or videos (for example, in the specific case of physical activity and personal care). But, in the same way, thematic guides such as those related to the work environment have gained positions by including information related to the COVID.
How to leverage the effect of Query Deserves Freshness in the SEO strategy
There are different ways to reinforce the organic positioning considering the action of the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm:
- Adapt the structure and content of the website to the conditions of the new normality: we must take care of the transactional pages (products, categories) as well as the more informative ones. In fact, a case study published in Search Engine Land showed that e-commerces suffer a drastic loss of SEO visibility when informative URLs are removed. Therefore, it is advisable to always work with the user’s search intention in its broadest sense and its new buyer’s journey.
- Adjust the content marketing strategy to, on the one hand, review the most evergreen articles, identify those that are relevant now and adjust their content taking into account the new situations that COVID-19 is generating; and on the other hand, to include current topics in the editorial calendar. Until the new normality is established, flexibility will be key in planning the contents.
- Implement structured data: these clues marked in the web code point out to Google the type of content on the pages to make it easier to interpret the information. In fact, the publication date is a very relevant type of structured data in the case of blog posts. Structured data also allows the Google SERP to display the web in rich snippets or as part of the Knowledge Graph. All of this contributes to making the results more attractive to the user and achieving a higher click rate.
- Don’t lose sight of the offline environment: with public health policies having a direct impact on customers’ daily lives, what happens in the offline world has a decisive influence on what they look for and what concerns users online. In this sense, it is very important to keep all the information related to each step taken by the business updated. In the case of physical establishments, Google My Business is a key ally to strengthen local SEO when searches like “near me” or “brand + city” multiply with the reopening.
Amidst the volatility of May, a core update from Google
In addition, in May, Google released a major update of its algorithm that is very focused on showing the most relevant results for each consultation. For Google, this means identifying the user’s search intent and interpreting the quality of the content on the pages. Query Deserves Freshness thus joins BERT and many other algorithms that work together to assign positions.
Once again, the generation of useful, quality and updated content following Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines proves to be an infallible tool for maintaining proper organic positioning in times of uncertainty, such as the one we have experienced during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.