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Understanding Content Freshness and How It Impacts Your Website Rankings

Is content freshness important for your SEO? Both search engines and readers love timely and up-to-date information. Learn more about fresh content SEO and how it can benefit your site rankings and visibility.

Fresh content. Though not as significant an SEO factor as compared to quality and relevance is a fairly important metric that could potentially impact your Google rankings. 

Your website is a living, breathing entity on the internet. Every action you take, no matter if it is adding new content to your website or rehashing your old content can be a healthy signal for search engine optimization.

Comparatively, a static website without any updates may very well be view as a dead entity, with no life and nothing new to offer. 

However, don’t mistake fresh content as just making simple updates, there is so much more to this Google freshness factor and how it can actively help you boost your SEO. 

But first, let’s get a deeper understanding of what is fresh content? 

What is content freshness?

Fresh content means making significant changes to your website. Of course, the most common form of content freshness being regularly publishing a new blog post.

Search engine spiders or web crawlers are constantly searching the world wide web for new content to update their indexes and providing better quality answers that match user search queries, so they would treat it differently to evergreen sites whose content rarely changes.

While some changes and significant overhauls to existing pages may improve ranking on search engines like Google, slight updates do not dramatically improve SEO. 

To clarify, changing a single sentence does not count to content freshness, but should you do a complete rewrite of your content under a previously published URL or acquiring new external backlinks, these actions would count as fresh content. 

How do Google algorithms affect content freshness?

To further explain and define content freshness, we will have to look at two Google algorithms: the Caffeine and Google Freshness update. 

The Google Caffeine Update

Google Caffeine Update
Image Source: Search Engine Journal

Thanks to the Google Caffeine update, how frequently you update your content or website will have a positive impact on how often your site actually gets crawled. 

However, do not mistake it for boosting your rankings.

The frequency of your updates and fresh content will only affect your crawl rate and indexing.  

News sites like Forbes or CNN for example, which publishes a large number of articles every day will receive more resources from Google that checks on them multiple times a day to make sure they index the website results as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile, if you’ve just been publishing once a month for the past year, Google would likely not waste as many resources on your site.

Though this might not seem important at first glance, publishing more frequently will have search engines look at your site and reassess your site rankings more often. 

Once again, note that more content is not the key here, quality is. So while it is a good idea to update frequently, always make sure you publish only high-quality content that answers your user’s search intent. 

The Google Freshness Update

In 2011, Google made an improvement to their ranking algorithm that was “designed to better understand how to differentiate the level of freshness you need” for each unique query. 

It applied what was called a Query Deserved Freshness (QDF) mathematical model that measures all your document for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search queries.

When answering specific queries that deserve up-to-date search results, recency was given more importance than age. In other words, Google said that for QDF keywords, content freshness can lead to a temporary ranking boost. 

For example, a search query like “hurricane” can become popular when there is an active hurricane happening in Katrina, and Google will apply QDF to those searches and the results will change to reflect the most updated stories, news, and information on the topic.

Query Deserved Freshness example

Specifically, it would detect if a topic is starting to attract a lot of interest and they will look for any fresh content related to it and boost the ranking of pages that appear on the front page of Google as it is the most relevant. 

Particularly, this applies to three main categories of queries and that includes:

  1. Recent events and hot topics (e.g. Olympics or Super Bowl)
  2. Regularly recurring events (e.g. Halloween, Christmas)
  3. Information that changes often (e.g. best SLR cameras or Subaru Impreza reviews)

At the same time, this also applies to a lot of search phrases like “best laptops”, in which users would most likely want to see the latest post rather than one published 10 years ago. In this event, you would want to keep your blog post constantly up-to-date 

How does fresh content help your site?

SEO and content marketing
Image Source: Clickx

It’s simple and that is because SEO demands consistent output and rewards it better with better search engine rankings. But more specifically, here’s how it works. 

a. Freshness and frequency

Search engines love frequent updates because the user does, and they are often expecting the content that they are reading to be accurate and up-to-date.

Fresh, new content that is informative, engaging, and relevant consistently provides value to audiences and ensures that they will return the next time for more new content. 

Google recognizes this kind of consistent user activity and will reward the websites that create a virtuous cycle of high-quality content.

b. More content means more keyword rankings

More keyword rankings
Image Source: Neil Patel

When you publish more new content, you are also creating better chances for your site to rank for more keywords.

Frequently adding new, engaging content also allows you to use organic keyword optimization and siloing strategy that will vastly improve your positions in the SERP when done right. 

In other words, your website will rank for more keywords, boosting SEO for keywords relating to the website’s industry.  

One example is, let’s say you are selling fitness equipment online and create four to five new articles every week, you can focus each article on a different aspect of fitness and target more keywords, such as “home workouts” or “a healthy diet to build muscle”.

Each time you create a new article, you are adding more valuable keywords that help search engines recognize your website and attract your potential buyers to visit and learn more about your product or service. 

c. Keep your audience updated

When it comes to fresh content, again it’s about user’s expectations. 

Image Source: Fliplet

While the plans and pricing page for a small business website, for example, can remain the same for years and still rank well for a range of keywords. 

Blog and content sites are expected to be updated regularly to maintain their ranking keywords and positions. Often, if there is no action taken for a website and it goes into hiatus for months, the ranking will naturally decline and be replaced with more up-to-date content.

Besides, visitors value new content. If your website is not updated in a timely fashion, you will lose the favor of your loyal audiences who visit your website on a regular basis. 

Not to mention, if a new visitor stumbles to your site and begins reading through your content only to find that it is written like half a decade ago, do you think they will stay or go? 

What would you do? I certainly would not order anything from someone who had an article from 2011 on their main page. I want to know that the business is alive and active. 

d. Boost website authority

Last but not least, fresh content pages essentially create new links to the website for internal and external linking purposes and backlinks are essential for SEO.  

The more you write on a particular topic, the stronger your website will grow in authority and people will begin to trust what you say. In the long run, this will improve your website authority for your niche and drive you more traffic. 

As a whole, fresh and engaging content will bring new visitors to your website and keep old visitors coming. With every new content you create, you are opening more doors to attract visitors that may be your potential customers.

Your content would be a great place to learn about existing solutions, and in the end, they might even seek out your product and services. 

How do you leverage content freshness?

Will a higher post frequency increase your rankings overall? 

Probably not. But publishing new content will help you expand the number of keywords your site is targeting and thus result in a boost to your organic traffic. 

As much as fresh content can drive traffic to your website and improve your SEO, remember it needs to be of high quality and provides value to users by answering their search query intent. 

To make sure your content will be able to get your site ranking higher on the Google search engine result page and improve your visibility, you need to make sure you are doing your content marketing correctly and that starts with keyword research. 

1. Organic Keyword Optimization

To conduct detailed keyword research, we recommend using our BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence and Rank Intelligence.

When doing keyword research, the tool lets you go into the details, allowing you to specify your geographic location and discover your competitor’s ranking keywords. 

Using BiQ’s Keyword Intelligence, you can conduct your keyword research down to the city level and simply type your primary keyword to get more related keywords. 

BiQ Keyword Intleligence

The tool also lets you have a look at each keyword and its monthly trend, which can allow you to harness the freshness factor. 

So take note of the monthly trends and plan your content schedule accordingly to match when the query becomes more popular and when Google’s freshness algorithm may be looking for more recency than age. 

Additionally, the tool also has a Trending Search tab so you can directly keep an eye out on queries that may be experiencing a spike in mentions and create your content targeting those keywords first before anyone.

As a guideline, it’s best to look for long-tail keywords with search intent and a monthly search volume of at least 100 if you are just getting started on the topic. 

Conversely, you can reveal your competitor’s ranking keywords and select relevant keywords to target. Simply key in your competitor’s domain into BiQ’s Rank Intelligence and reveal their keyword strategies.

SEO Tip: A quick ranking tip is to use the current year in your title to positively affect your content ranking and click-through rate (CTR) in search engines. However, make sure you update your title and content annually to keep it up to date.

2. Updating and refreshing old content

You may have heard the saying that “search engines love fresh content” but this only applies if it is of good quality and highly relevant. 

As a part of an overall marketing strategy, you should always spend some time rewriting your non-performing blog posts and optimizing them to potentially boost visibility and rankings.

If you want to optimize and update your post but don’t exactly know where to start, you can use our BiQ’s Content Intelligence. 

Our tool analyzes your content’s WordVector against the Top 10 search ranking results and displays on the right side which section of your content you should further optimize with keyword suggestions you can include to make it more relevant. 

Moreover, it also analyzes your content readability and sentiment to let you further improve your content for user experience. 

Yes, it’s important to note that the aim of rehashing your old content is also to improve the overall quality of the user’s experience when reading it. 

So add visuals or videos to make it more engaging to also boost your visitor’s time-on-page which is also a ranking factor for Google.

3. Publishing Quick News Content

Both the Caffeine and Freshness Algorithm Update affect mostly news sites. 

So as challenging as it may be to publish new blog posts every single day or every week, an alternative option you can consider is to ride the fresh content SEO edge is to publish industrial news content. 

Image Source: Search Engine Journal

It should be something quick and easy, like for example you can cover a quick snippet of what’s happening in your industry and keep your audiences up to date. 

4. Build Your Backlink Portfolio

Not all freshness signals are restricted to the page itself, the rate of new link growth can also be a huge signal to your website freshness. 

If a website sees an increase in its link growth rate, this would tell Google that this website is trustworthy and relevant which brings an overall increase to your site’s ranking. 

That’s why remember to look for ways to build your backlink portfolio either through guest post outreaching or maybe even send a press release. 

Conclusion

It’s true that Google does favor fresher results in their SERPs. 

That’s why to gain a competitive edge in this aspect and capitalize fresh content SEO, make sure you are constantly publishing more new content of updating your pages to gain more backlinks and higher domain authority. 

However, at the end of the day, keep in mind that your goal should be to update your website in a timely manner to benefit your users with an aim of providing value, only then you will be deserving of high rankings.

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