Google announced an update to it’s Featured Snippets algorithm. The update is intended to make Featured Snippets more useful by understanding which information needs fresh content.
Which Queries Deserve Freshness?
Google gave three examples of the kinds of search queries that need fresh content.
1. Information that is regularly updated
2. Information that changes with passing time
3. Current events
The goal is to remove featured snippets content that is out of date and no longer useful.
This is how Google explains it:
“…a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly.
This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for.
For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.”
I think the part of the above explanation that is most important is that their systems determining what content is evergreen (remains useful over time) and what kinds of content loses its usefulness over time.
Information that is Regularly Updated
This is information that may be calendar based or a change that is coming and expected.
“Here are some examples where fresh featured snippets are especially helpful. You might be looking for information that is updated on a regular basis, like the next full moon, the winner of a reality TV show, or upcoming holidays.”
Below is a query with out of date results:
Below is the same query but with fresh results:
Information that Change With Time
Another category that deserves freshness is information whose nature might change with time. This is interesting because the information needs change on a time based event that’s in the future as compared to the information need of an event that has already occurred.
Here’s how Google explains it:
“For example, as an event approaches, we learn more specific details. A fresher page about an upcoming TV premiere might have more specific information and other useful content, like trailers, that you can click through to view.”
Google then used the category of current events, where the information is more useful when it’s up to date. It used the example of a listeria recall.
Fresh Results Not Necessary for Evergreen Content
At the beginning of the announcement Google noted that the information needs of evergreen content does not need to be updated frequently. They used the example of a fact based search query, where the fact does not change.
Here’s how Google explained why evergreen content does not need fresh web results:
“For instance, if you ask “Why is the sky red at sunset,” the underlying explanation doesn’t change over time, and the clearest description is often found on an older page. Prioritizing fresh content wouldn’t necessarily yield better results.”
There is an SEO Myth that believes Google prefers to rank fresh content. The above statement contradicts and debunks the myth. It explains Google understands that search queries about evergreen topics do not get better results with fresh web pages.
This is an important update because it forces content publishers to review what content is evergreen and what kinds of content requires a fresh update. The featured snippets will now better reward content publishers that provide content that is useful in the moment.