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Content was initially a simple concept for most online marketers – any content would do so long as it moved their handful of keywords up the search listings. Then, content marketing evolved. The swathe of keywords widened, and content marketers became newly concerned with content discovery on channels such as social and using content to build their brands and connect with their audience. Even if your company sells standard products that everyone uses on a daily basis, you still have to convince people to buy from you rather than the competitor. And if your company offers a product or service that is highly specialized, content presentation will be even more important to convey the various aspects of your business.

Fresh website content lets customers know you are committed to the industry, are an active business, and care about engaging with customers. Keeping the same stale news and copywriting for years generally shows a lack of dedication to the website. This sort of stagnate presentation often extends to a lack of dedication to quality and service in other areas of business, at least in the eyes of customers.

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Freshness by Inception Date

A webpage is given a “freshness” score based on its inception date, which decays over time. This freshness score can boost a piece of content for certain search queries, but degrades as the content becomes older.

Document Changes (How Much) Influences Freshness

The age of a webpage or domain isn’t the only freshness factor. Search engines can score regularly updated content for freshness differently from content that doesn’t change. In this case, the amount of change on your webpage plays a role.

The Rate of Document Change (How Often) Impacts Freshness

Content that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years. In this case, consider the homepage of the New York Times, which updates every day and has a high degree of change.

Freshness Influenced by New Page Creation

Instead of revising individual pages, websites add completely new pages over time. This is the case with most blogs. Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.

Changes to Important Content Matter More

Changes made in “important” areas of a document will signal freshness differently than changes made in less important content. Less important content includes navigation, advertisements, and content well below the fold. Important content is generally in the main body text above the fold.

Rate of New Link Growth Signals Freshness

If a webpage sees an increase in its link growth rate, this could indicate a signal of relevance to search engines. For example, if folks start linking to your personal website because you are about to get married, your site could be deemed more relevant and fresh

Links from Fresh Sites Pass Fresh Value

Links from sites that have a high freshness score themselves can raise the freshness score of the sites they link to.

Changes in Anchor Text Signals may Devalue Links

If a website changes dramatically over time, it makes sense that any new anchor text pointing to the page will change as well.

User Behavior Indicates Freshness

What happens when your once wonderful content becomes old and outdated? For example, your website hosts a local bus schedule… for 2009. As content becomes outdated, folks spend less time on your site. They press the back button to Google’s results and choose another URL.

Older Documents Still Win Certain Queries

Google understands the newest result isn’t always the best. Consider a search query for “Magna Carta”. An older, authoritative result is probably best here. In this case, having a well-aged document may actually help you.

The goal of a search engine is to return the most relevant results to users. For your part, this requires an honest assessment of your own content. What part of your site would benefit most from freshness?

Old content that exists simply to generate page views, but accomplishes little else, does more harm than good for the web. On the other hand, great content that continually answers a user’s query may remain fresh forever.

 

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