Between Google’s 2011 Panda update and January’s introduction of Search + Your World, people can’t stop talking about the tech giant’s dramatic shift in favor of fresh and original online content for its search engine.  While content marketers heralded the move as a new dawn in online consciousness, SEO experts cried foul. Yet one basic question seems to have been lost in the online shuffle (or scuffle, as it were): why exactly does Google love fresh and original content, anyway?

As my mother used to say, when you want answers, you go straight to the source – in this case, Google.


In an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the Search Engine Optimization Starter GuideGoogle clearly spells out why you should follow their SEO best practices:

“…..following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.”

The guide goes on to clarify why Google likes organic content (my formatting, their words):

  • New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
  • Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.
  • Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content
  • Designing your site around your visitors’ needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.

Straight from Google; it is pretty clear that they do like online content that is fresh and original. But why do they like it so much? To answer this question, we need to peek inside Google’s new privacy policy.


Under the prosaic “Information we collect” heading of the privacy policy, Google outlines two ways they obtain information from online users.

  • “Information you give us – For example, many of our services require you to sign up for a Google Account. When you do, we’ll ask for personal information, like your name, email address, telephone number or credit card.”
  • “Information we get from your use of our services – We may collect information about the services that you use and how you use them, like when you visit a website that uses our advertising services or you view and interact with our ads and content.”


That’s how they get your data. What do they do with it then? Under the slightly-more descriptive “how we use information we collect” heading, Google offers this explanation:

  • “We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads”

OK, you use my data to improve the services you provide me (like search), to protect me, and to tailor content to me. Sounds reasonable enough. But what if I don’t want Google to do this for me?

Under the rosy heading “transparency and choice,” we learn about how you can control, edit, or even remove your information from Google’s services. They actually help you along by providing a link to the aptly-named “data liberation front” site run by Google engineers (sounds positively Marxian, but no bother).

Google goes on to give you the option of setting your browser to block all cookies, although they point out the problem with doing so:  “it’s important to remember that many of our services may not function properly if your cookies are disabled.”

Bummer. They’ve got me there, as it seems like I’m dependent on Google more with each passing day.

The section ends with a flourish: “Remember that when you share information publicly, it may be indexable by search engines, including Google.”

Aha, now we’re getting to it. Realistically, if I don’t want Google to put me in a virtual timeout, I need to exchange my data for their (mostly) free services.

All of this evidence suggests that Google favors fresh and original content for three reasons: to improve user experience, refine ad targeting, and create artificial intelligence (AI) knowledge graph.

BASIC LEVEL: Improve User Experience – On a basic level, Google wants to provide a better experience for users. They are a service-based business, after all. Internet marketers’ increasing adaption of inbound marketing services that promote fresh, user-focused content does just that. Happy users mean more users. In their words:

“New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.”

ADVANCED LEVEL: Refine Ad Targeting – With 36 Billion in 2011 ad revenue, Google has become expert at aggregating data for targeted ad sales. In order to keep the gravy train running, they need ever-more-accurate data. It stands to reason that fresh and original online content provides a cleaner data set than stale copy with juiced-up keywords.

“We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.”

EXPERT LEVEL: Create AI Knowledge Graph – Fresh and original content feeds (literally) into Google’s master plan of creating a comprehensive knowledge graph to power its AI-like search engine. This is why Google’s webmaster site pans inorganic SEO practices:

 “…inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines…are annoying or nonsensical to users.”

In a recent interview with Mashable, Google SVP Amit Singai discussed the knowledge graph. He said Google is “building a huge, in-house understanding of what an entity is and a repository of what entities are in the world and what should you know about those entities.”  This massive knowledge graph will radically increase the power and complexity of search.

Singh goes on to admit that they are not there yet. Right now, “We cross our fingers and hope someone on the web has written about these things or topics.”

Thousands of eager marketers and content writers pounding out fresh content is probably a good start.

Getting everyone focused on creating fresh and original content serves Google on three levels. In this way, you could say that Google’s future is heavily dependent on the universal adaptation of fresh and original web content standards. Or to put it another way, when you (like me) are sweating over a computer monitor trying to pound out a truly epic piece of content, you’re not only lining Google’s pockets, but paving the way for their future dominance.

So go ahead Google, I’ll sign on the bottom line – you can have my data. And why not, at least I get my G-mail, G+ and Google search for free (sort of). Besides, I’m really not that interesting – at least that’s what my wife tells me….

What do you think about the future of Google?