Wai Hong Fong
Getting fresh with your SEO rankings
This phenomenon is typically known as Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) and it's Google's way of giving more weight to new content that is attempting to address a recent event.
How does Google do this?
Google has the ability to differentiate between queries that relate to recent/fresh queries that have a longer history of steady searches.
For the fresh queries, Google will then look out for content that is also relatively new that is relevant. It will give more weight to this content than even older sites that have more link authority.
An example of this was at a recent bucks night where a group of us dressed up our now-married friend as Superman and made him walk around the streets of Melbourne doing silly things.
He ended up saving the life of a guy (he's an emergency doctor by day) who got hit in an accident in Melbourne’s CBD, after which the Herald Sun decided to cover the story (we had a picture of Superman surrounded by cops and helping the guy out).
I went home that night and blogged about the event. Shortly after, news.com.au and heraldsun.com.au covered the story. All of a sudden, there was an influx of searches for "Superman saves the day Melbourne", "Superman bucks night", etc.
Because my content was fresh, I was gaining loads of traffic to my blog for these terms, even outranking news.com.au and heraldsun.com.au on some terms.
How does this apply to your business?
There are two big things you can do today. Firstly, if you have enough content to post on a regular basis (once a week at least), start a blog. Blogs are powerful sources of QDF content, which is why Google loves them.
Secondly, freshen up content on your site to ensure that it is always relevant and useful to the user. For example, if you have a 2009 guide to the city's transport system, consider updating it to the 2012 version.