Understanding Query Deserves Freshness (QDF)
One of the major advantages Google has held over its competitors during its early years of existence is the way it delivers quality and accuracy of search results that it kind of understands what searchers actually mean when they search those query terms.
Apparently, better search results consider not only the keyword entered in the search box, but also where the search engine user is based, and the time at which the query was performed. I’ll talk more about the latter, which has something to do with this article’s title.
Query Deserves Freshness is a part of Google’s algorithm feature that deals with search queries that revolve around established keywords plus short-term spikes in their popularity. Sometimes these keywords are seasonal (christmas gifts, mooncake, lai see) and some have gained traction as newsmakers (las ramblas with regards to the recent van attack in Barcelona, or steve bannon who was recently fired as Donald Trump’s chief strategist).
Google generally ranks sites based on content quality and inbound links so in many cases, keyword rankings are pretty stable. However, another factor in ranking is relevance, and there are instances that queries that are typically informational can also mean their recent appearance in the news.
This means, a newsworthy topic — spikes in appearance in the news, and blogosphere as well as becoming a trending topic on social media — about a search query can trigger the QDF component.
Topics that can get triggered by QDF are recurring events (NBA finals, Grammys), popular personalities (Taylor Swift, Stephen Curry) or those of global scale (ISIS, World Cup). Since Google wants to deliver as relevant results as possible, it summons the QDF to deliver fresh results instead of stale news on top of the standard results such as Wikipedia pages or social media accounts. Without it, Google might be serving “yesterday’s news.”
Taking advantage of this feature means creating updated content relating to fresh update about a query that gained significant spike over a short period of time. It offers a level playing ground even for smaller sites with fewer content or lower link equity than established portals because Google puts a premium for fresh content than outdated content. But this is only going to happen once a search query’s volume rises rapidly due to a recent development that is related to it.
1. Anticipate seasonal trends
Depending on the topics you cover, there are plenty of opportunities to write about. For sports, there are topics to write about NBA season (preseason, NBA draft, playoffs, trade deadlines). For entertainment, you can consider The Oscar (nominees, winners, featured stories about nominated films and artists). The publishing dates of such articles come at a critical timing consumer demand for such content will tend to pick up.
As you tabulate content assignments with scheduled date or publishing in an editorial calendar, such feature articles can be prepared in advance once demand for such topics start to pick up.
2. Monitor trends.
The first stop to accomplish this is Google Trends. It provides an overview of what topics have been trending over the past few hours, grouping them together, while showing an established trend of popularity.
Although Google Trends is a great tool to establish keyword search trends (especially when compared with other keywords), it’s not the only tool available. On Twitter, you can use Trends24 to determine which topics are trending in a particular location. Once you find a relevant topic, prepare its content or edit an old post that talks about the same topic and publish it.
3. Be quick.
Presenting the freshest content fastest is a requirement to get that coveted surge in traffic. With a great writing talent and ability to construct an updated and comprehensive article and publish it within a few hours, you have the advantage over competitors who might take a longer time to get their content published, rendering it stale by Google’s standards.
As you write, be mindful of the target keywords people might be using as search query and use them on strategic points of your article: title, first paragraph, image, captions and so on. The idea is to connect your content with the search query as much as possible.
4. Build relevant content.
Betting on one article to generate traffic might be too ambitious and not likely going to happen on your first attempt. So make sure there are follow up articles that relate to the first one.
For example, if you wrote about the topic on Stranger Things, first topic might be a preview of what to expect in the upcoming season. Follow this up with other similar content such as Millie Bobby Brown’s comments posted on Twitter, how The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” got chosen to be part of the soundtrack, and other information people who have been following the show might be asking.
Such content hubs help promote each other through links and sharing on social media. The purpose of such exercise is not just for QDF to trigger results for relevant queries, but also to establish your topic pages as resource for long tail keywords. This is helpful if there are just too many established sites already covering the main topic queries and your pages don’t get included among top rankings.
5. Share on social media.
Speaking of social media, make sure your article gets shared on Facebook, gets retweeted on Twitter, get inbound link from other websites and whatever means to get Google’s attention to quickly index the content.
6. Continue the same process.
Ranking well and getting traffic sounds awesome, but it should only mean fuel for you to continue taking advantage of this Google feature. Go on with the next seasonal topic to develop content on the next subject, share on social media and acquire links, build authority and grow your site’s inbound links.
Optimizing ahead of time helps buy time to attract Google crawler to scan and index the page. Otherwise, it might be too late — the interest has tapered, yet your site is not yet indexed and will miss out on a potential surge of organic traffic QDF brings.