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?
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.