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Why Fresh Blog Content is Now 35% More Important

This guest post is by Oz of OzSoapbox.

I like to think of SEO in general as one giant cauldron of murky soup that’s never quite just right.

The cauldron has been simmering on the fire for so long that we’ve kind of lost track of exactly what we’ve put in there. All we can do now is tweak the broth by adding different ingredients in a continual effort that will hopefully improve its taste.

Taste, of course, being the positive effects good SEO brings to our blogs.

One of the gazillion factors that makes up SEO, and one we’re going to explore today, is content freshness. Gone are the days of static websites and even the seemingly most mundane of web pages usually had some sort of dynamic element to them.

Whether it’s a Twitter feed, Facebook integration, reader comments, or just a good old-fashioned constant stream of new articles, these days there’s a good chance even a website dedicated to your grandma’s cats is dynamically updated with some form of fresh content.

And as far as SEO goes, that’s now indisputably a good thing.

Measuring the impact of content freshness on our blogs

Previously, content freshness was something we knew was a good thing to do because SEO spiders loved new and updated content. Much like adding salt to a cauldron of soup, quantifying the exact impact content freshness had on our blogs has always been somewhat problematic.

Whilst we still don’t have a definitive answer on this (coughcough trade secrets coughcough), Google recently announced a major change to their search algorithm “that would impact roughly 35% of searches”.

That change? The quantification of the effect that freshness has on search results.

Google handle roughly three billion search queries a day, and 35% of that is one billion and fifty million searches a day affected in some way by content freshness.

That’s 1,050,000,000 daily search results … do I have your attention yet?

Google’s freshness algorithm change and your blog

Now obviously content freshness doesn’t mean that if you go berserk updating your content all of a sudden you’re going to be outranking Wikipedia. Yet this is a change to Google’s search results worth taking stock of.

That said, note that even at 35% of searches, this change simply might not really apply to your blog. Let’s face it, some blog niches are timeless.

For others, such as Digital Photography School, with digital camera models and new gear coming out all the time, Google’s algorithm change likely has huge potential.

If you don’t do anything about it though, that potential could easily swing from positive to negative.

Keeping your blog fresh

Even if you think your blog’s niche isn’t really impacted by time, it’s still worth keeping your blog fresh. In the vastness that is the Internet, the last thing you want is readers tuning out because they think you’re no longer relevant.

If you’re serious about keeping your blog stocked with fresh content, these would be the first three things I’d focus on.

Publish, publish, publish!

You don’t have to publish every day, but a strongly maintained publishing schedule is easily your best bet for fresh fresh content. What better way to show the search engines you’re full of fresh content than providing them with new pages to crawl every time they visit?

Comments

Why do all the work yourself? Although some bloggers prefer to turn comments off, as far as SEO goes, comments on your articles most definitely count towards freshness.

I’ve got some articles on my blog that I wrote a few years back, and to this day, they still receive the odd comment. This not only keeps the discussion going but keeps a page relevant, which is what Google’s latest algorithm change is all about.

Update your old articles

Even if you think nothing’s changed since you last wrote about a particular area of interest, it can’t hurt to go back and visit the topic.

I write a fair bit about current events in Taiwan. Often, a news snippet comes out that’s relevant to a story I’ve previously written about, but not significant enough to craft a new article around.

In these cases I simply go back to the article I originally wrote and provide an update. You can see this principle in action in my post on the DEHP scandal in Taiwan earlier this year.

I originally wrote the story in June. Since then I’ve updated the page no less than 19 times, with the last update on the 28th October.

The end result is a page that combines both age authority and content freshness. In the eyes of search engine crawlers this translates to relevance, because the page has been constantly updated with fresh content that is strongly on-topic.

Darren has previously written in more depth on keeping fresh content flowing on your blog, and it’s a great reference for some further fresh content ideas.

35% of over a billion searches a day are now quantifiably impacted by content freshness, and even a tiny percentage of this traffic is worth optimizing for. Fire up your favorite blogging platform and let’s get those blogs updated!

Updated daily, OzSoapbox is an English language blog about Taiwan cataloguing life in Taiwan, the good times and the bad. Interrupted only by social commentary on current events facing Taiwan, feel free to drop on by and join Oz on his journey through this beautiful island.

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Comments

  1. James V says:

    Interesting article! I update my site weekly, but now I’m curious to see how often others are posting…

  2. Chris Price says:

    Thanks for the post. This is good to know for people who post fairly regularly. I find it interesting to see which posts get comments. Although my site is not big or old, I’ll occasionally get the comment on an older post. Apparently, this will help with getting some visitors now. Thanks again.

  3. Absolutely spot on – fresh relevant content is massively important especially post Panda [Farmer] update. Another great way to utilise blog or news content within a website is to draw excerpts onto the homepage to ensure that you have fresh, relevant content updating to your homepage on a regular basis.

  4. You did touch on it, but it is 35% of searches by volume, not by a flat percentage of 35% of variety of searches. Most of these changes really affect things like entertainment and sports, where there is metric ton of people looking for up to the second info.

    That being said, there will/could be some effect on any niche, so like you pointed out, having up-to-date information really can hurt if you only help your blog or articles.

  5. John Murphy says:

    Excellent article. I had seen information about Google’s change last week and your post gives very good additional commentary. You mentioned keeping the site fresh and that comments also play a role in that. Do you have an opinion on using the Facebook comments plugin and do comments there also get picked up by Google even though it’s a Facebook commenting tool? Thanks!

  6. Nick Thacker says:

    Hmm, I never realized this–thanks for sharing, Oz!

  7. Mark Aylward says:

    Hey Oz
    I started putting Facebook comments boxes on all my posts and pages a while back to engage readers, but never really thought about the “freshness” impact! I’ll have to go back and put FB comments boxes on everything and possibly update them at the same time
    Thanks
    Mark

  8. Drewry says:

    I make it a positive habit of updating my site seven days a week, in addition to the using article marketing and social bookmarking to further enhance the online reach to new audiences :-)

  9. what you said about updating old pages is true. we bloggers do not even care to look at old posts, leave the updation part. this needs to be curbed really fast to get maximum results

  10. I still got tones of articles to produce but have to divide the time between real works and cyber works.

  11. I like the analogy between soup and SEO because it’s so true. Lately I’ve been thinking of turning off comments, but your point about them adding to the freshness of a page makes sense. But do we know for fact that comments on old posts help your SEO?

  12. This update is going to make it more important than ever for bloggers to create an editorial calendar. Planning out your month, quarter or year can really help writer’s stick to a schedule and produce the “fresh” content Google is looking for.

  13. We update our blog twice a week. As Ekspresi Ruang mentions though, it’s a constant balancing act between that and other work such as generating leads.We see great traffic arrive through our blog though so I always consider it an investment of my time and it’s nice to think that the content you produce will be around and accessible forever.

    Michelle

  14. Mario Monk says:

    Every now and then I take an older post, refurbish it, update, sometimes even rewrite it, change pictures and publish it as a fresh post, sometimes even title is slightly edited (permalink stays).

    In most cases boost in that post’s SE traffic is significant.

  15. JB says:

    Do you know for sure that “comments” keep a blog post fresh in Google’s eyes? Or is that just a guess?

  16. Mike says:

    I tend to update my site once a day at least. I find that is enough content without being too much at once. Readers tend to like that pretty well.

  17. Paul says:

    My site is running for almost a month now and I haven’t updated nor uploaded any additional contents yet. I would like the search engines to completely crawl my site and after a day or two, I can then start putting up new content every week.

  18. Jon Cooper says:

    Oz,

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention this post – http://www.seomoz.org/blog/googles-freshness-update-whiteboard-friday – it clears up a lot of confusion with what this update really means. I think you’re over stressing this to some people that don’t need to worry about it. Most of the changes happened to queries that were based on timely results, such as news & celebrity websites. Since at least 90% of the people reading this does not blog about news & celebrities, this does not necessarily apply to them (yes, even I blog about something that happens in the news every once in a while, but we’re talking about the blogs that are based solely off of news, like NBC, Search Engine Land, Tech Crunch even, etc.).

    Just wanted to make sure your readers knew that this update doesn’t mean 35% of the queries that affect them, but rather 35% of the queries that deal mostly with searches that don’t concern them.

  19. Totally agree with the article, excerpt for one thing. Regarding the comments.

    As I notice from the log files of web server, blogs are living their own life, not like ordinary web sites. Search engines are constantly retrieving the XML site map and getting articles from it. In a few minutes, the blog post is indexed and is ready everyone to be found.

    Search engine is retrieving the url of your blog post from the XML site map. Of course, they are parsing the whole blog as well, but not as often as the map, which is retrieved a few times per day by Google alone. Interesting, that this XML map is an indicator not only for search engines, but also for bots – for other websites I don’t have reference spamming at all, but it’s in every 4th request to the blog.

    So, what I wouldn’t agree with you regarding how comments affect the freshness according to search engines. As I noticed earlier, search engine is reading your feed(!), but your feed doesn’t contain comments. However, it contains the date of last update, which is the date when you updated the article, not when someone posted the comment.

    Also, be careful and don’t trick the search engine into thinking that you’ve updated the article when in fact you didn’t – if the only thing that changed is the date in the feed – there won’t be anything but problems. Can’t say for other engines, but Google is detecting the percentage of changes made, and like in all other things, it cares about not only the quantity, but also the quality. So you could rephrase a sentence in your article, but this won’t improve the article in the eyes of Google.

    So, comments helps to determine the freshness of the page, but not of the article. Google separates blog posts from ordinary pages, and blog posts are more likely to get into the top than ordinary pages. I had situations, when my blog post became #2 in Google top in a few days after it was posted, and the first item in the top was another blog post, which was twice longer but also 4 months older.

    Hope that helps.

  20. Well informative and interesting article. I have to learn a lot more to pursue my started blogging career. Thanks for sharing:)

  21. rahul says:

    creating a fresh content is not an easy task these days as web is filled with information and I totally agree with you comment counts and add to seo and turning them off is not a good idea.

  22. I’m in the weight loss and fitness niche, which you’d think would be timeless, right? Wrong. The search results are clearly getting skewed by the freshness factor and I see a lot of cr@ppy, spun, autogenerated articles ranking on top simply because they’re new. This makes no sense to me, since it makes the quality of search results go down. Oh well.

  23. Tim says:

    One of my sites is publishing new content several times an hour, but then its a news site so you’d expect it to and accordingly it has a fantastic ranking for all sorts of obscure keyword searches

    Having said that I think its important not to overlook publishing new content in context of your overall marketing strategy. It IS a time consuming activity to research and write new content, and can be costly if you’re engaging someone else to ghost write for you. Like any marketing initiative needs to be done with a particular objective in mind

  24. I think fresh content is very important. I used to update twice a week. Now I do twice a day and traffic has doubled.

    I think a good trick is to set up daily schedules for different types of content. Some catchy ones I have seen are “Montherhood Mondays,” “Tasty Tuesdays,” and so on.

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

  25. With a now defunct blog I worked on back in the day, I could definitely tell the difference when I was publishing regularly, regardless of the actually SEO impact. If nothing else, the more frequent and varied content led to more consistent and quality community engagement.

  26. Edgar says:

    I notice if you publish every day google will label your site as a news site and not a blog. Being categories as news puts you with high copetetorsn which is not good.

    Blog once a week and you will be fine.

  27. Quality and consistency. And of course good analogy on the cauldron. I have one question in mind, we keep the consistency as long as it takes, yes?

  28. Chris says:

    Great post as always! I’ve got one question: if you update your old post with new details, do you change its title? Getting it up to date seems like the best thing for getting new readers and attracting those old ones again, but how is uncle Google judging such partly new content?

  29. Drewry says:

    and good informative blog content is all you need to keep visitors coming in, as well as keep search engines searching, and dedicated servers serving :-)