Whenever you read about content, one of the most frequent suggestions you’ll get is to produce content that is fresh and relevant. Most content writers heed this advice and create content that is updated regularly, pertains to their audience’s needs and includes current facts and figures. This is a great start. But do you really know how Google measures all of your documents for freshness? Is it possible that some of your older posts can actually score higher in terms of freshness than a blog you just posted earlier today?
Thanks to highly specialized and intuitive algorithms, Google measures your documents for appropriateness and then scores each page according to the type of search query. Some queries need fresh content, but old content can still be used for other queries. The most common keyword searches that require new content are:
Regularly occurring events
Below are ten examples of how fresh content can influence rankings. You shouldn’t take them at face value but instead look at them as theories that are consistent with experiments performed over the years. Your own experiences may tell you otherwise, and that’s okay. Use your best judgment – your opinion matters too.
Here are ten ways that you can make your content even fresher and enjoy the rewards that come with it.
Webpages are often given freshness scores based on their inception date, which decreases over time. The inception date is when Google becomes aware of the document, which usually occurs when Googlebot first indexes it. The freshness score can boost a piece of content for some search queries but will degrade as the content becomes older.
The age of the webpage matters of course, but it’s not the only aspect that Google looks at. The amount of change on your webpage also plays a role. The search engines are capable of scoring regularly updated content differently from content that doesn’t change. Modifying the body of an article will have more freshness than just changing the title.
Changes to Important Documents
Some material is more important than others. For instance, you probably have a handful of blog posts on your website that get a lot of visibility and engagement. If you’re going to make changes, focus on these key documents rather than less important content such as navigation, advertisements and content below the fold.
The Rate of Document Change
Not only do document changes make a difference in freshness but also so does the rate of the changes. The key is having a large amount of content that is updated regularly; not just one or two pieces. This tells Google that you keep the majority of your content applicable.
New Page Creation
Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may also enjoy a higher freshness score. Some SEOs recommend adding 20-30% new pages to your site each year. Find what works for you. You don’t want new pages to take away from the time needed to update old content.
New Link Growth
An increase in link growth rate can signal freshness to the search engines. Why? If people are linking back to your site because you share great summer recipes using your cooking products, you could be seen as being relevant and fresh. But, it’s important to manage links. Too much growth too quickly could be seen as spammy behavior.
Links from New Sites
You should also be mindful of the links that you include in your own research. Always look for material that shares the most recent information. If you use an old, static link in your work, you won’t get the same value of freshness as if you would have used a recent statistic.
Changes in Anchor Text
Your website is a work in progress, and over time, it will change dramatically from where it was a few years ago. Therefore, it makes sense to change the anchor text pointing to the page. Let’s say you started a business making handmade bouquets for all occasions, but now your business has narrowed down to the wedding niche. New anchor text will shift from general flower arrangements to wedding-specific ones.
It’s important to remember how user behavior impacts your freshness score, because this will give you more motivation to produce relevant content. If you had an activity calendar posted on your website from 2010, it’s not going to offer visitors much value, is it? They will spend less time on your site and view it as being stale. Keeping up with your content encourages good user behavior.
What About Older Documents? Do They Matter?
By reading everything above, it’s easy to assume that Google only favors new, updated content as opposed to older content. But, this isn’t necessarily true. (That would be too easy, wouldn’t it?) For some search queries, documents with content that hasn’t recently changed may be more favorable than documents with content that has been changed. An example: If you were searching for the Declaration of Independence, an older, well-established document may prove better.
The goal of a search engine is to return the most relevant results to the user, and Google has become efficient at accomplishing this objective. When you do your own searches, you know how important it is to have the right information returned to you whether you plug in a question or a couple of keywords. If you want your content to do the same for your audience, you must give it an honest assessment and look for areas where you can improve your documents and make them more relevant and engaging.
You may have some pages that are still generating views, and that’s great. But old content that accomplishes just that and little else doesn’t benefit the Web in any way. Instead, it’s best to create web pages that are updated regularly, contribute fresh content to your blog and website and keep a few of those timeless pieces in hand.