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27th April 2009 |  Written by Guy Levine

QDF – Query Deserves Freshness in Action

Further to my post on the Analytics API, (I now have a fully functioning tinfoil-hat) I decided to have a scoot around Google for any further Analytics API information.  Even though the API had only been released for a matter of hours there were still hundreds of results in Google announcing its release across numerous sites and blogs.

So using my knowledge of search and how the search engines work, I started my search with an advanced query, “google analytics api”.

Top of the pile was a blog post on techcrunch.com, as shown below:

The interesting bit (and it is, honestly) is the small snippet of text after the URL showing where the article is located, ’19 hours ago’.  This is Google dynamically telling me that this post is only 19 hours old, this content is ‘fresh’.

A new factor Google is now considering in its ranking algorithm is QDF, or Query Deserves Freshness.  In a nutshell, Google will favour new pages (or blog posts) that are relevant to search queries that are current news or in other words ‘hot’.  This allows Google to let breaking news into the results pages from sites without relying on older more established sites to catch up with latest and greatest.  As the more established sites catch up and time passes, the more traditional metrics take hold and the more established and trusted sites will begin to rank highly.

Further down the results at position 8 there was this entry:

 

 

Now this result is 20 hours old but ranks lower despite having similar content and a similar title (and actually being on Google’s own blog!  We’ll assume that Google trusts the content on here).  An indication that for the search query “google analytics api” there are benefits to be had for being that little bit ‘fresher’, at least within the first 24 hours of a story breaking.

Update: Monday 27th April 2009

It’s happened, the second half of the QDF algorithm has kicked in and now the more trusted blog (Google’s own) ranks at position 1 for the query ‘google analytics api’, whereas the techcrunch post that was at position1 yesterday when the news broke, has dropped to position 15.

This shows that there is most likely a defined time period where Google implements QDF, possibly the first twenty four hours after they  notice a peak in the number of searches for a given search query.  It looks like after this time period has passed the results are put back in order according to the usual metrics we have come to expect from the Google algorithm.

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