I hope you enjoyed last week`s article about Google`s army of 12,000 human website reviewers.
This week, we`ll focus on another trend: Fresh Content.
In our line of work, we often review websites that are essentially “static time capsules.” In essence, the site was so much work to develop (including writing content), that nobody at the company has touched the site in the past three years.
If you`re like me, you’ve been to a site where the home page lists “upcoming events” from last spring… or even a few years ago. When most people see errors like this on a site, they assume that the company is either (a) out of business, or (b) sloppy in their marketing, and therefore sloppy in the rest of their products and services.
Late last year (2011), Google introduced an algorithm for rating websites based on how often content is updated on a website.
Why? Google wants to know if your site is “dead” / asleep at the wheel / nobody`s paying attention.
It`s not enough to go into a site and change around a word here or there, or modify the punctuation to try to “fool” Google. They have thousands of engineers who have thought of that already :)
Fresh content is based on a time-stamp placed when the page is indexed, or when it reaches a certain threshold of inbound links.
Google will devalue each piece of content on your site, in a logarithmically-based scale (the exact details are a trade secret).
This is a big change from before, where Google really promoted pages and content that had “withstood the test of time.”
What led to this change? I`ll answer this with another question: Do you remember where you were when Michael Jackson died? I do, but probably not for musical reasons. As soon as word broke of the King of Pop`s demise, traffic to Google spiked tremendously. Google went into lockdown mode, thinking they were under attack. Soon, however, they realized that people were just trying to find more news and information about his death, and were frustrated that older search results kept coming up.
One of the issues during this episode was that people wanted the latest real-time news and information, and not a page from eight years ago that might have been more relevant last week.
So Google applied a time-value to content, which helps Google assign a shelf-life to a particular search query.
Fresh content, frequently added pages, active blog = Good for search rankings.
Static site that hasn`t been updated in 1-2 years = Bad for search rankings.