Is Fresh Rank More Important Than Page Rank?

First of all let me confess the term ‘fresh rank’ has been stolen from fellow SEO blogger Justin Briggs, I am going to refer to one of his excellent posts throughout the rest of this one.

You will no doubt know about Google’s new QDF upgrade, an algorithm tweak designed to get you to ‘fresh’ content quicker, rather than bringing up old static results.

You can see an example of it here;

QDF Serp

They’re not site links but links to fresh content on the BBC for the search term ‘football’.

Google has stated that this affects around 35% of search queries, don’t get that mixed up with searches. Now that is all well and good but from my point of view I want to know a few key points;

1) How does Google decide what is fresh?

2) Is the link graph involved when deciding ‘freshness’?

3) How do links from these ‘fresh’ pages influence rankings for the taget website?

I wrote a really short post a few months ago based on fresh links vs text links vs links placed in old content. The results clarified that links in fresh content had a more significant impact on rankings.

However, I feel the need to delve more into this, as I think this strategy is one of the most important link building tasks you can undertake and will help you cement long term core rankings.

How Does Google Determine Freshness?

Justin wrote a great post on this on his blog and if you really want to delve into this you should definitely go take a read, I just want to touch on some of his points and then try to understand how we can use it for link building purposes.

Document Discovery

I think it is safe to assume that the discovery of a document through Googles crawl for the first time is enough to indicate freshness. There is a little bit of debate around this, but nothing that affects the take aways too much, does Google count it as fresh when it is first crawled, first linked to, first mentioned in a social capacity, first indexed…? No one really knows and the truth is it is probably a mixture of all those factors.

Proportion of Change

Is a document fresh if it hasn’t been discovered before, or is it if a document has significantly changed since the last crawl? Do Google give the content a score on a sliding scale?

Fresh Rank Score

This is important to know, if the freshness of a document determines the power of a link from that document then we need to know what this scale is, Google is never going to give anything away, I doubt a new FreshRank toolbar is going to emerge, however we can test this through our link building efforts.

Fresh Rank

This brings us nicely onto ‘fresh rank’ a term I am fully attributing to Justin. In the paper Systems and Methods for Determining Document Freshness, it describes a method of passing a freshness score between pages.

So just like PageRank is passed between pages so is FreshRank, so whether or not your landing page is ‘fresh’ will depend not only on the changing content on the page but also by the freshness of pages linking in, hence we have some kind of freshness score.

Is Freshness More Influential Than PageRank

I use the term PageRank very loosely and only to describe the authority of a domain or page based on the quality and quantity of links it has pointing to it.

We all know how PageRank travels around the web and through our sites, its long been the currency of the web, the more links a site or pages a site has pointing to it, the more value a link from it will pass.

Now before I go into this any further, let me first declare this has not been tested or researched in any way, my opinion is based on working with an SEO department that manually builds over 5,000 unique links every month.

The PageRank Model

PageRank Model

Value is passed from page to page based on popularity.

FreshRank Model

Fresh Rank Model

I am a firm believer that the above model is already in place and has been for sometime and that Google use a combination of FreshRank and PageRank to determine the ranking of a given page.

No one knows the exact calculation but it could be that a link from a fresher PR1 page is worth as much as a static PR6, maybe that is overselling it a bit but certainly getting multiple fresh links every month can be just as effective as acquiring 1 high PR link a month. I guess the ideal is to combine the two.

I’ve worked with many sites over the years and the best way to impact rankings is by creating a fresh link profile. The ultimate combination would be creating a fresh link from a high PageRank (authority) domain, combining high PageRank with a FreshRank strategy, is a sure way of dominating your industry SERP.

Diminishing Value

The one problem with a ‘fresh’ link building strategy is that it is likely to diminish in value over time, therefore efforts have to be ongoing.

PageRank flowing through a link is going to be more consistent than Fresh Rank flow, a document rarely consistently acquires a large quantity of links naturally, however once a document has a certain amount of PageRank it generally keeps it, that is of course as long as the links remain live and and the PageRank isn’t pushed through multiple 301’s.

As you can see from the above model links are carrying PageRank and FreshRank, however what about 6 months later;

Diminishing Fresh Rank

Overtime the freshness of the linking documents will diminish, no doubt everytime Google crawls them it will give them a new score. If only we could build lots of links that are from fresh, high domain authority pages that are going to be continually linked to for the rest of their existance 😉

Overall Thoughts

I have seriously thought about researching this in more depth, but from the results we see on a daily basis it is pretty much a given. SEO strategies that involve the consistent development of links from fresh pages will almost always achieve higher rankings than those that don’t.

Only Google will know exactly how this works and one day they may be willing to shed a little more light on it but that won’t stop me and more SEO’s implementing it.

Would be great to hear some debate on this or examples of tests/research.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

13 thoughts on “Is Fresh Rank More Important Than Page Rank?

  1. That’s great Tim. Just one thing. Why are all SEO’s getting lofty as… with the whole patent thing. As you say a few times in your post “testing” is the way…patents just show you can read well boring texts 🙂 – you feel me!

  2. lol, I know what you mean and trust me, I ain’t a big patent reader, usually relying on Bill at SEObytheSea to shed some understanding.

    Having said that SEO is about trying to stay ahead of the game and there is only so much you can do with testing, instead you have to try and figure out Google’s intent going forward. You couldn’t have tested Panda before it hit but if you’d have read some of the patents floating about you would have seen it coming a while back.

    I think a lot of SEO’s can and do overcomplicate simple things, however I think there is a real art in taking something seemingly complex and explaining it in a more simplistic form.

  3. Tim…….Nice to see your posting on this site again. Must be pretty busy with your day job.

    5,000 links a month? I can’t even fathom how your able to pull that trick off.

  4. Hi Pchef,

    Ye things have been a little hectic lately 🙂 I do intend to get a post or two out a week pushing forward.

    A team of over 20 in house SEO’s, some great contacts, great content writers and great tools = 5000 plus links a month 🙂 No easy task

  5. Fresh Rank was first tested back in Oct 08. We had a client with a mad clogging team posting 15-20 news articles a day and they were all ferrying guest posted all over the place. When it kicked in they jumped to #1have for over 50 keywords. About 5 were ultra competitive. Then Feb 08 it was rolled back and in March Social Rank kicked in. They were back on top until May-Day of 09! 🙁 By the time we recovered Panda smacked them down. Now they recovered from Panda but it will never be like it was!

  6. We have worked with quite a few Panda hit clients, its not easy getting rankings back even after the recovery. Yeah, we have been playing for fresh links for a while, but trying to understand the concept of fresh rank on a page basis has never been something we thought about. It’s certainly something we’re going to be looking at in more detail.

  7. Hi Tim,

    I thought I would revisited this post given the current turmoil in the rankings.

    My question is what do you suggest can be done to keep the flow of fresh inbound contextual links coming to a site now that article submission, press releases and private blog networks have all been given the bullet by Google? Guest blogging is a good tactic but cannot be done en masse? Do you think web 2.0 properties are a good substitute for the above?

  8. I think doing on mass, in terms of getting hundreds of links quickly, is not going to happen any more. Press releases are OK but keep them on brand and supplement them with guest blogging from general out reach. Not easy anymore

  9. Since you first posted this, I have invented a tool that has proven to help with fresh rank. Basically it watches Google, Bing and Yahoo News for fresh news articles on any topic you want. It filters them, cleans up the urls to remove tracking parameters and then out-puts a fresh RSS Feed.

    They are technically dup content but they are so fresh and good quality that they add a little dynamic freshness to your site that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Add this to a page where the actual content is high quality and completely original and you have a winning combination for extending the freshness life of that content. I have filters to get rid of press release and other junk, wikis, home pages, etc.

    Here is the raw tool using term “Page Rank” :

    For those who don’t want to parse the RSS directly I also had this done up as a WordPress plugin so you can just add topically relevant news aggregator widget to your sidebar. I will be adding some cool features like changing the feed to match on page tags or the category of the post, etc. That way the news feed in the sidebar never dups between areas of the site and is always relevant to the page they appear on.

    You can see the plugin here:

    I am moving this to cloud hosting soon as it is very server processing intensive. Hope this helps someone.

  10. Thanks David, it’s been a busy month. I’ll be sure to check this out and send it around my team for feedback.

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