Google Isn’t Getting Freshness Right, Despite Increased Emphasis

    June 29, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

A study has come out from Conductor, indicating that one in five Google Knowledge Graph entries for trending keywords are outdated.

Do you think Google is doing a good job at delivering fresh results when relevant? Share your feedback in the comments.

Google announced Knowledge Graph last month, with a great deal of hype. Google seems to consider it one of the most important things it has done for search in a long time. While it may be significant, it appears that there is still plenty of work to be done.

Another thing Google prides itself on is indexing speed, which it has gotten much better at over the years. According to Conductor’s study, however, this type of speed is not being applied to Knowledge Graph.

“Our analysis of both low and high activity queries tells us that Google and Wikipedia are mismatched for a substantial ‘one out of five’ high activity queries,” says Conductor’s Nathan Safran. “And, when they are mismatched, half the time, Google is behind by 2 or more days. The implication is that searchers may not be seeing the most relevant information for their query. For some context, in our LeBron James example, this means his Knowledge Graph entry could have been without reference to his recent championship for up to four days.”

Knowledge Graph Lag

It’s interesting that Google seems to be falling behind on freshness in some areas, even while it has become such a point of emphasis with recent algorithm updates, sometimes to a fault.

The really evident lack of freshness comes where it is probably most relevant – real time. Google, as you may know, no longer has realtime search, since its deal with Twitter dissolved last year, and now Google simply can’t “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible” as well as it could with that deal in place. It’s just not happening. Twitter is the primary place for realtime info, hands down. That could change, but for now, that’s just how it is.

Now, Google is pushing this Knowledge Graph in a big way, and even it is apparently behind.

Google made some big search-related announcements at Google I/O, related to the new version of Android, Jellybean. There are Siri-like voice features, and Google Now, which we talked about in more detail here. It may take some time, but these may be very important elements to Google’s future as a search engine. Another one of the new search elements is improved visualization of Knowledge Graph results. Based on Google’s demo of the operating system. Knowledge Graph will be more front and center, at least on mobile search. It stands to reason that this will flow into other version of Google mobile search, beyond Jellybean.

While Google may use a lot of different sources for Knowledge Graph results, it’s clear that Wikipedia is the go-to source, as most of the results you are likely to see, will show Wikipedia info above all else. Wikipedia isn’t perfect, but two day-old Wikipedia is even less perfect, and will make Google less perfect.

Google has acknowledged that Knowledge Graph is not perfect. When Google announced the feature, we asked how susceptible it would be to Wikipedia vandalism. A spokesperson told us at the time, “I can’t share a ton of detail here, but we’ve got quality controls in place to try to mitigate this kind of issue. We’ve also included a link so users can tell us when we may have an inaccuracy in our information.”

On the one hand, a real time Wikipedia-based Knowledge Graph may actually make it more susceptible to vandalism. If it’s real time, it’s going to display exactly what’s on Wikipedia, even before editors have a chance to correct issues. Perhaps some lag is needed for quality control.

Safran says, “While a real time Wikipedia update may ultimately not be practical, if Google is indeed positioning Knowledge Graph as the future of search, we have to believe that they can do better than the 2-4 day lag many of their mismatched keywords currently reflect.”

Two to four days can make a huge difference when it comes to information, obviously. Wikipedia pages are often at their most relevant when they are about someone or something in the news. Conductor mentions Lebron James as an example. An outdated Knowledge Graph result could ignore a championship that was just achieved. A celebrity result could ignore a their recent death.

You can see this in action right here:

Don Grady SERPs

Notice that the Knowledge Graph result in the above image for “don grady” search results shows his description, saying he “is an American Composer…”

You can see the actual Wikipedia result in the organic section, which says he “was an American composer…”

That is Google highlighting a less relevant result. It’s as simple as that.

Are Google results more relevant than they used to be? Tell us what you think.

  • http://barrys-science.weebly.com Barry Crouse

    I tested Googles results and the test subject was myself Barry L. Crouse Ph.d Computer Information Systems. The results are mixed on 1 area Google did acknowledge my Science works This is a positive result. On the other hand, Public Education Institutions and their Scientist showed up on my results examples Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss and sometimes Stephen Hawkins. These people have a different and distinct viewpoint that is different than mine thus it does not produce a relevant search. I have tried to contact their respective institution to call their attention to this problem with very little result.I do not think it is correct to mix Public Institutions with Private Scientist this shows a Entanglement of System structure and produces decay of energy. These people are supported by the Public Institution while I have to pay for my viewpoints via copyrights. I think fairness must be addressed.

  • http://thepcprofessor.ca Michael

    I think freshness is really picking on the small business man as they don’t have time to do the work and keep up on daily internet marketing activities and content updates. This causes the corporate world to one again screw over the small guy and grass roots businesses, buy having a marketing team to deliver the content. The small guys loses again. Small business need the business more to sustain life, not 300.00 corporate lunches! I suggest have a lot more leniency towards small business and freshness content. Put them all in the same bracket to maintain the competition one the same level as the big guys with big dollars, it could kill small business on the net!


    • http://thepcprofessor.ca Michael

      Sorry about spelling! Was in a rush.

  • http://qycysaru.mywapblog.com Kiki Sambur

    Google is very good
    I like it

  • http://www.zazzle.com/artnip K Schaefer

    No. Google returns outdated info. Seems like the results aren’t in real-time. Updated/current info on web sites aren’t captured.

  • http://pepepelotazo@blogspot.com tino laenen

    i think google has gotten into a lot of trouble and not just now. I still think it is the best search engine around (since bing and yahoo are absolute crap) but with their constant changes from panda to pigeon or whatever is the name of the new algorithm, they cannot cope with the continuous demand for new websites and are incapable to rank them.
    You need an old website to be ranked.

  • http://www.a2zlist.net ajc

    I don’t use google due to the constant changes being made with their algorithms. This to me is just another way to screw up everyones ranking of websites. I say don’t use Google use other sites and let them take a fall this will send a message that we are tired of the changes. Remember how Microsoft treated everyone back in the day ? To me this is the same thing all over again. When companies get too big they think they can treat everyone anyway they like but that is not true. Stop using or doing business with Google and it will change.

    • john

      tank the google sites in our personal sites list. anyway it becoming more and more to find anything on it, everywhere this stupid synonyms and ‘top authority spammers’

  • http://dreamspublicity.com Curt Bizelli

    Even though freshness is very important, I don’t think its as important as people would like to think. On our online magazine, even though time is important, we have articles from last year that we would still like indexed.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    “Wikipedia isn’t perfect, but …”
    Isn’t perfect?! Hell, there’s a ton of BS and “evolving” content on/in Wikipedia! (Some obsessed ‘moroon’ altered and or added to/over 8,000 articles on “pro man-made” global warming!) .e.g., Look at the footnotes and dates of the entries in political sensitive material!
    If Wikipedia content is high on the Google menu to be dished-out in its returned search serving … Google is serving-up greasy-spoon fare.
    Not only isn’t Google getting its “freshness” right its not serving-up good content either!

    • john

      wikipedia is academic and ‘not make money’. it only one reason why google love it.

  • http://www.iamscottnash.com/ Lisa Simpkins

    I am staying with the old SEO and it seems to be working fine.We started at over 780,xxx and within 2 weeks are down to 347,934 And this is a new site..

    • john

      google worries now only about adwords money. it why mostly old crap in their search results only. you not find and will click ads, old MFA idea.

  • http://ozarkwebsolutions.com Michael

    Fresh is not the same as competent. Google cannot make that call.

    The more general the search, the lousier the results because “fresh” intrudes as though it is the great arbiter of quality. I build deep content and in general searches get discounted by spammers and imposters from a content perspective. I do hammer them on narrow searches, got more long tail keywords than anyone I compete with.

    The badly flawed assumption in all this is that users can search competently. They cannot so they go with generalities, and fresh wins out. Depending on the subject matter, freshness can mean absolutely nothing. Google cannot fix stupidity in searching except in their imagination. Because of this page ranking becomes more meaningless.

    Google is worrying more about staying ahead of the imposters and spammers than it is about serving the needs of its users. Fresh has little to do with many realms of quality results. They are thinking about search in a reductionist way, rather than looking at the broader quality of a website. It is sad to see so much brain power weighting fresh trees without thought to the forest they reside in. Paradise lost I guess.

  • http://www.arthurspools.com Craig

    They are providing vanilla results. Everyone in the top ten is the same exact stuff, nothing new…its taking more and more work to find what I am really looking for.

    That is the biggest problem with key word generated search…you have to know what key word you want, and hell, half the time I don’t. So I stravage around for a while, and get lucky….or I go find it on Ebay

  • http://hd100.in Darshan

    I think mostly I get the result very precise and that also depends on the keywords we use.
    In some instances e.g.to download any songs or software or ebook we got search engines referels and when we visit those sites we have to get search results from those sites. In that situation we get frustrtated.

    Thanks google for your nice work, though.

  • Sardar

    The truth is Google is all on the wrong foot. Is there anything in the world as a natural link? No. People would look to purchase something and would find information sites and not commercial sites. As long as they do not learn to treat different types of contents differently, they will never get it right. They should judge how good a site is, instead of who and who does not link to that site.

    • john

      when google start ranking websites using links as votes – links become commercial factor and lost their ‘natural’ status completely.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “Perhaps some lag is needed for quality control.”

    I think that is a valid point. The downside of real time information is that everyone could be sharing the WRONG information. Just the other day CNN reported that Obamacare had been struck down by the Supreme Court and a lot of other sources ran with it before CNN corrected themselves. Maybe Google is trying to protect itself since they don’t have access to Twitter data like they used to.

  • http://www.makemoneyteam.com Raymond

    Since the last major update the Google serps page has had many old posts showing up in the number 1 position. I would say that the results are not better or fresher. If anything more crap has floated to the top simply because Googles change made those top spots available by devaluing the real sites that were once there. The reality is that some sites who ranked well but used black hat, are still better sites than the white hat sites who now outrank them. Does a stupid 5 year old forum post deserve to out-rank a high quality site, simply because that site used a few methods Google doesn’t like?

  • http://www.reza420.blogfa.com REZA


  • john

    wikipedia is not worth anything, lot of that articles is not researched well and created only for doorway purposes. What about google freshness? what the joke! i not need to search twitter, but even searching websites it hard to find anything now. lot of spam on authority sites which not answer my question, but google show me that things on every my query

  • http://shopsaskatchewan.com James

    This freshness is fine for a blog or such. I run a website with a thousand Cos that just want to have a pressence online to be found in the searches. A plumber is still a plumber no matter how fresh you think it might be.

    Now google gives secondary results instead of the buainesses actual legitimate websites like it used to. It’s less efficient as a search engine due to irrelevant results regardless of how intuative they may try to boast it is.

    It`s a joke and the small business owners who cannot afford regular fresh content updates, nor require them… are adversly affected. The small businesses are still the local accounting firm or butched or flooring sales showroom in the searched location. Googles ego is seeing them all suffer because of this incredibly stupid blunder!

  • http://handdryerindia.com pelister

    How does Google decide on freshness of content, if there is a recipe to make cake, the recipe is the same whatever year it may be, do google expect to write a cake recipe everyday or to write the same recipe into a new article everyday, absolute BS…