How fresh is your content? Keeping fresh content can dramatically improve your search rankings and get the right people viewing your content. Google is continuing to get “smarter” and we can dissect how fresh content affects a website based on Google’s 2011 patent entitled “information retrieval based on historical data”.
Important Disclaimer To Note: Although we know the details of the patent, there is NO GUARANTEE how Google’s algorithm applies these details.
Here are the 10 Best Guesses of How Google Determines Fresh Content:
Inception Date – No It’s Not DiCaprio
The date when Google’s bots crawl and recognize your content. Not necessarily the same as the date you posted the page. Stay fresh and get crawled more often by Google.
Fresh Content & Amount of Change
Regularly update content. One sentence or changing one link won’t cut it. It has to be a large impact to the main body text over time. Making changes throughout the document could affect freshness.
Work Your Fresh Content Core
Changes to your main body fresh content matter more. If there are page changes in the comments, in the footer, in the navigation, or to the date of the article then these won’t matter much. Google wants to see changes in the main article body.
The Rate of Content Change
The frequency in which you make major changes affects your “freshness score”. How often to change? No one knows but you don’t have to keep updating your articles every week or even every month but if it’s been years then we have a problem. Also, don’t be afraid to delete old, irrelevant content that helps no one. Chances are it will end up hurting you in the long run and no need to archive for the sake of archiving.
Get It While It’s Fresh & Hot: No, not Krispy Kremes - New Pages!
The amount of new pages can be a factor, especially if your competitors are adding content much less frequently. Some web teams say adding 20-30% of new pages each year to the site is necessary but it may be a little overboard. The most important thing to note is to make fresh content and earn new links.
Link Growth – Oh So Fresh
If your rate of links grow at a non spammy rate, it could be relevant to search engines. The way natural links are supposed to work is you write a great article and bloggers naturally link to great content. That signals to Google that your content is fresh and relevant. Google like.
You’re Cool, You’re Cool, I Guess I’m Cool Too
Google uses other site’s freshness in relevance to your website. Lots of links from a fresh content website can score you points. Just like when the cool kid gives you the okay to sit with them at lunch. Google essentially passes on the cool & fresh factor onto you just for being associated. It works the other way too – so don’t hang out with a bad crowd.
Stats Matter for Freshness
Check your Google Analytics. The theory is: You have a high click through rate aka people click on your result when they Google your keyword. It signals to Google that your result is relevant to the search. Then, Google measures how much time they spent on your site.
What Google is trying to measure here is intent or basically what’s a hot topic. The combination of the two factors is what signals to Google that it must be a fresh and relevant page. This is also what can move you up in the search results, so write great meta data aka that little title and description that pops up on Google when you search for something.
Anchor Text May Devalue Precious Link Juice
If you change links or an article to a completely different subject, Google will start to understand this. If you change it too much, the old anchor text is now old and gross. Not so fresh in Google’s eyes. Just don’t deviate too much from your original page content or you could lose that powerful link juice.
Fresh Content vs. Older Is Better
The newest and latest isn’t always the best result. This is why Googlers often see old articles and pages. It’s because they are still relevant and useful to the reader. Google knows this because it measures how often people click on the result based on the keyword query and how long people stay engaged on the page.
Fresh Content Best Practices
Whatever you do, don’t update for the sake of updating and trying to rank higher on Google. Make it your goal to update to provide helpful and useful content to your users while keeping in mind the following:
- Increased Clicks
- More User Engagement/Higher Average Time On Page
- Fresh Links
Reaching these goals will let Google know that your site is so fresh and so clean clean and deserves to be on top. Write on!