Freshness System – Google Search Ranking Signal in 2023

If you think that Google’s Freshness System Ranking Signal is related to the freshness of the content, then unfortunately, you are on the wrong track. I’ll answer that in this guide.

In this guide, we’ll discuss Google’s fifth ranking signal. If you haven’t read about the previous signals, you can read them here:

  1. BERT Explained: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers
  2. Crisis Information Systems – CIS
  3. Deduplication Systems
  4. Exact Match Domain System

Be informed:

Google doesn’t always rank the fresh/updated content.

What is Freshness Algorithm?

In 2007, Amit Singhal developed a Google algorithm names Query Deserves Freshness (QDF), also known as Google’s Freshness System Ranking Signal.

Google’s Freshness Algorithm can check which user’s search query deserves to see the fresh/updated/latest content and which query needs to see informative content.

Why Does Google Use Freshness Algorithm Ranking Signal?

Google checks each search query to understand “does this query deserves freshness” and shows the results accordingly.

Let’s understand Freshness System (QDF) with a real-life example:

Considering the user lives in a city with no volcano, not even in nearby cities. The user searched on Google for the word “volcano.”

With the help of Amit’s algorithm, Google will now understand that as the user has no volcano in his area, his search intent is related to specific information about “what is a volcano” or likewise.

Google will show the user results that contain general information about the volcano and its history (maybe).

Now the vice-versa, if the user is living in Hawaii, USA, and he searches for the keyword “volcano,” Google will understand that the user is near the volcano “Mauna Loa,” which is an active volcano on Earth. In such cases, Google will show the user information that can help him stay safe from volcano eruptions or new data related to the nearby volcanos.

Hence, that is all done with the help of Amit’s Google Freshness Algorithm, which can predict what kind of information should be shown to the person based on the area/time/season/etc., he is currently living in.

Like, the Google Freshness System also detects seasonal situations/events and accordingly shows the result to the user.

How Does Query Deserve Freshness Algorithm System Effects SEO?

When QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) feels that the search query deserves fresh and updated content, then Google Search Results show very recent and up-to-date content related to the search query.

Otherwise, typical informative and related search results are shown, which can be new or old but relevant.

Does it prove that updated articles cannot rank?

It proves the myth that SEO experts don’t have to update (or make little text changes) their post’s publish/edit date to show Google that they have fresh content on their website. At the same time, they are dreaming that Google will consider that as fresh content and rank them higher in SERPs.

Suppose you have a recipe website. How can you change the recipes on your website to show fresh content to Google? The recipe for doughnuts won’t change with season, place, or time. It will remain the same. Google understands this fact. Therefore, you should not update your recipe’s published date or last-edited date to show fresh content to Google, and I think this will help you rank higher.

Google’s freshness algorithm proves this thinking wrong! Therefore, it is proven by the freshness system that:

Changing the published date does not help in Google ranking.

How to optimize the website for Freshness System?

Finally, how can we optimize our websites or webpages for the Freshness Algorithm?

The answer is simple:

Suppose your website/webpage has content that needs to be updated monthly/yearly/seasonally or contains information relevant to any specific event or maybe current affairs. In that case, you must update the content and keep the latest relevant information.

How do we know that our content deserves freshness?

The answer is in the QDF algorithm structure. This algorithm decides to show fresh content for the search query based on its three parameters:

  1. Is that topic being covered in blogs and magazines?
  2. Is it being covered on news websites?
  3. Is there a sudden increase in the searches for that specific query, out of routine?

If all three parameters are met above, then Google will consider that topic/search query as a hot current topic that will result in relevant, fresh content in search results.


Hence, it is concluded that Google’s Query Deserves Freshness Algorithm system applies only to websites/webpages in the news or niches. You can add updated news and facts to your pages (relevant to your niche) to keep up with the QDF algorithm ranking signal.

If your website doesn’t fall in such a category, do not waste your time by updating the published date or making little to no changes in the content while considering increasing Google’s ranking because Google does not work that way!

For reference: Here is the list of → All Most Important Google Ranking Signals for 2023.

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