There have been some significant changes over at Google Search last week. All exciting stuff!
Google Search Changes – “Freshness”
At the end of last week, Google announced a major change to how they will be presenting search results. The Google Freshness update aims to provide up to date search results and these appear in much the same way as Google News results.
Using Facebook comments as an example, this is how Google’s search results appear to me this morning.
Google claim that this will have an impact on around 35% of searches. Hopefully it will begin to put an end to old pages from years ago turning up in searches when up to date information is what you are actually looking for.
What does this mean for your local business?
On a local level, not a great deal. This kind of search will effect news, current events, and topics where recent information is actually important. For basic local searches I haven’t seen or read about any evidence of change.
Yes, your site should be up to date.
Yes, it’s great to have a blog and to be distributing relevant content regularly.
Do you need to be updating your website every day?
Further clarification on what is “fresh” comes from Search Engine Land – fresh does not mean updating your page and re-publishing. It means new pages.
Google now tells us that one of the freshness factors — the way they determine if content is fresh or not — is the time when they first crawled a page. So if you publish a page, and then change that page, it doesn’t suddenly become “fresh.”
I’m sure it won’t stop people mis-understanding the change and re-publishing their webpages in the hope of top search rankings…
More about the Google Freshness update from the guy’s over at SEOmoz who explain things very eloquently.
Google Search Now Likes Facebook Comments
There’s a lot of confusion about this recent change. Matt Cutts (he’s a top bod over at Google) wrote this on his Twitter feed last week.
This is actually a great step forward – the fact that you can see these types of comments indexed by Google. Until recently, anything on your website not written in plain code was very difficult (and in some cases impossible) for Google bot to read and therefore it could not appear in search.
Some websites and blogs have a feature that allows you to log in and comment as your Facebook profile. This was one of the fancy codes that Google bot could not easily read and therefore put into the search results.
This is different to comments on your Facebook page or profile.
Google can only “see” public pages and profiles on Facebook. Fan pages (“Like” pages) are public by default and you set your privacy for your personal profile. So, if you have it set to private or ‘friends only’, then your comments on your Facebook profile will not suddenly start appearing in search results.
If your Facebook profile is public, then it was already somewhere in Google before this change. Nothing has changed.
Don’t forget, indexing by Google does not automatically mean your comments will appear in Google search. The same rules apply as websites – just because Google bot sees you does not mean you will show up in the search results! It depends what the search query is and how much competition there is for that term.
Needless to say, that hasn’t stopped people from saying they have to now be careful what they say on Facebook in case it turns up in search…
Personally, regardless of Google now indexing Facebook comments on websites, I think if you do not want people knowing what you write in your comments then don’t write them in the first place – on any platform.