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Google Fresh & Social Media APIs

Have you been seeing more and more pages with sharable information on them?  API’s jutting into otherwise branded visual space?  We’re used to seeing boxes to check off at the bottom of blog posts: do you want to share, tweet, or plus one this content?  But now these API’s are starting to appear on landing pages–on every page, practically–of major Fortune 500 companies’ website.  They want all their content to be sharable.  That’s a trend that’s going to become more prevalent.

Some companies are building portals to their social media accounts into their main pages so that activity on their social media accounts shows up on their sites.  This is turning out to be a prescient move on the part of companies who’ve built this feature into their infrastructure.  Because fresh content–of the sort that is constantly appearing on Social Media feeds–is going to become a premium resource in coming months.  And this trend will not be slowing down.  Having a feed to your social account will ‘freshen’ you site constantly.  And this turns out to be a major asset.

Where did this shift in priorities originate?

In early November, Google pushed an algorithm update focused on retooling rankings for time-sensitive content. Though it hasn’t provided an official name for this update, many have taken to calling it “Google Fresh” because of its emphasis on fresh content. This will provide a definite, dramatic benefit for Google’s users by weeding out stale information in local and time-sensitive searches, but it will send many site owners into a state of frenzy, forcing them to focus on increasing their output of information in order to stay at the top of search results. This won’t affect all search results equally, however. For instance, the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau will need to continuously update its website with new information, keeping visitors aware of the latest information as it comes, but Chicago’s social services websites dealing with transit regulations or housing won’t need to bother for the most part. Any site that features relatively static information will be secure in its rankings without needing constant updating.

The Spice Must Flow

Modern society runs on information; entire business empires are dedicated to collecting, filtering and disseminating–or withholding—information. Today’s tech-savvy user thrives on breaking news, often using myriad information-gathering resources to find it. That coupled with the Fresh update means websites will begin moving content more quickly and fluidly than before, turning former tidal ebbs and flows into steady streams of news. Information is a hot commodity, paid for through time, effort and the action of sharing noteworthy data across various platforms. And if knowledge is the product, Google is the primary retailer – providing access and organization to nearly all the wisdom in the world in one centralized location. In order to keep its users happy and stay ahead of its competitors, however, the search giant has to innovate and refine its process. In order to provide further refinement to its primary service (search), the company has placed check valves throughout the pipes it uses to move information – keeping the tired, dated information out of the way of fresh content. In light of the Panda update, many sites made massive shifts to their overall structure and to individual web pages, tweaking and distilling their services and information to keep from being heavily penalized. Moving forward, however, more will have to be done to stay on top of the results pages, though it won’t require convoluted schemes or nefarious practices.

Getting Social

One easy way for sites to ensure fresh content is by tapping into various social networks with their APIs. Social media platforms are, by their very nature, constantly updating and shifting. This gives site owners a broad range of sources from which to pull fresh information and, in a two-for-one deal, drive user interaction with their site and brand. Including embedded Facebook features, like commenting and Liking, will allow Google to index those metrics and allow users to interact with and share content without necessarily visiting the site. Including a live Twitter feed will tie a company’s Twitter profile and campaigns in with their site and give a steady stream of fresh content. The best use of social media for the Google Fresh update, however, will be including a blog on the site that will be updated regularly and provide helpful content for users – drawing readers and commenters as well as giving Google what it wants to see in exchange for giving the site a high search rank.

Thomas Stone is the Contributing Author for Technected.com.
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