It's time to talk about the rarely explored QDF, or "Query Deserves Freshness." If you've been reading the 21 Handshake blog, you know we like digging down into specific factors that Google uses to determine page rankings – especially factors you can control, giving your site a boost by making Google happy. QDF refers to the important of having fresh content on your website: Let's look at why Google likes it.
The Basics of QDF
QDF was born as a term in 2011 when Google released a specific update called Query Deserves Freshness. This was part of Google's ongoing efforts to improve the quality of websites (along with cracking down on cheap, useless content).
Basically, QDF gave page ranking boosts to sites that had new content related to organic searches. It was estimated to affect around 30% of all search results, generally favoring sites that had recently created new articles or updated existing content, while treating sites with older content less favorably.
The results of this change were mixed: News sites and active blogs benefited immediately because their job was to come out with fresh content and cover current events. Older, more "stale" commercial sites got less attention, and so found a new reason to start updating content. However, this also caused many sites to think, "Well, let's go crazy on content!" and start generating a ton of clickbait, which Google then had to punish. It also meant that staid, respectful sites like government and education pages with top-notch information got pushed down a bit to make room for the "latest take," which didn't exactly improve internet quality.
The bottom line: There are good and bad reactions to QDF, and to help you choose a good reaction, we're going to break down QDF activities into three different parts.
Part 1: Updating Your Website
Things changes. Products, prices, availability, expansions – every business has its cycles. When those changes happen, update your site swiftly to reflect the new information. This is also true of blog posts and news stories that you may have published in the past, but now deserve updates to show how things have since changed. This benefits users who scour your site looking for brand information, and can boost your page ranking at the same time.
At the same time, you should have a regularly update schedule for brand new content – your blog SEO will benefit if you make consistent new posts every week or every day instead of letting things stagnant.Part 2: Covering Trends
Unless you are a news site, you don't need to create brand new content for every external event that comes along. This is how quality degenerates and sites end up with a lot of clickbait with less-than-stellar links. It's easy to tank your page rankings instead of improving them if your blog starts chasing every news story to hit the headlines. However, it's still a good idea to cover a trend if it's 1)widespread and closely connected to your brand as well as 2)durable – a trend that's been around for a week or two (or in a fast-moving industry, a day or two) and is still seeing plenty of discussion. Those are the signs that you should weigh in on the buzz.
Part 3: Continuing Your Presence Across All Channels
Your site and blog aren't the only things that benefit from fresh content. QDF is a strategy that works best when you produce new content across social media as well. There's a lot of synergy in this: Make sure you have posts scheduled to spread the word about new posts or updates when they go live on your site.
Industry and Competitor Differences
A final word of advice: "Freshness" can vary significant based on your industry and what your competitors are doing. A simple excercise is to 'Google' what an organic search brings up that is relevant to your business. Take a look at post frequency, what sort of news gets covered, and what updates you can make to stay ahead of the pack! This is a good simple habit to start implementing today.