In Part 1, we established that a mobile-friendly website is critical. For over a year, there are more Google searches on phones, than pads, laptops and desktops combined. “Nuff said”.
In Part 2, We took a look at creating relevant, holistic, consumer focused content and how that integrates with SERP (Search Engine Return Pages).
In Part 3, We saw how to take advantage of universal search and how media needs to be indexed so Google knows what it is, and how this all helps overall website SEO.
This is the 4th of out 5 SEO best practices in 2016, and how Web It 101 can bring life to your online presence. These are called Google Best Practices. And it’s what Web It does for clients, day in and day out. Are these all new to you? Then shame on you for not following the rules. We do it “by the book”. No overstated promises. No shady backlink buying. No outsourcing overseas. Just hard work and results.
5 SEO Best Practices in 2016 – Part 4 – Why Website Freshness Matters
Back in 2003, engineers at Google filed a patent that would later shake up the SEO world. Named Document Scoring Based on Document Content Update, this patent not only offered insight into the mind of Google, but it also provided an accurate road-map of the path Google would eventually take, and refine for years to come.
Over the years, that original patent spawned several child patents. These are often nearly duplicate patents with slightly modified passages. Many of the algorithmic changes we see today are simply improvements of these original ideas conceived years ago by Google engineers.
One of these major updates was the Google Freshness Update in 2011, which places greater emphasis on returning fresher web content for most queries. Exactly how Google determines freshness was never (as always) disclosed by Google, but over the last few years, it has been analyzed by SEO folks over and over, and tweaked by Google over and over as well.
5 SEO Best Practices – How Google Scores Fresh Content
Google blogged once that “Different searches have different freshness needs.” So much like you look for freshness dates on milk, Google looks for fresh content on your website, then rewards you with a better search ranking.
The implication is that Google measures all of your website (text, images, etc) for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. While most queries need fresh content, Google still uses some older content for other queries, like the Apollo moon landing for instance.
These are the types of searches most likely to require fresh content:
- Recent events or hot topics: “earthquake in Peru” or “2016 election” (or news in your industry)
- Regularly recurring events: “NFL schedule” “training classes” (calendar type events)
- Frequent updates: “our best new item” “this new service provides…” (new products or services)
Google’s patents offer incredible insight as to how web content can be evaluated using freshness signals, and rankings of that content adjusted accordingly.
Over all, if your site has fresh content weekly, you are in good shape. That doesn’t include changing a line here or there….Google bots look for new content.
There are no hard and fast rules, but over the last few years there are general guidelines from experience and plain old SEO trial and error.
- Born On Date – This is the first time Google crawls your brand new website. This “born on freshness date” gives an immediate boost which decays over time as the content gets older and older. As time goes by without any updates, Google labels these as “Static Sites”.
- New Content – The age of a webpage 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. For example, the change of a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text, or a new page entirely, which Google calls “Dynamic Sites”.
- 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 CNN or USA Today, which update multiple times a day and have a high degree of change. Google bots crawl and index sites like these as often as you and I breathe. But a google blog stated it best…“For example, a website whose content is edited or added to often will be scored higher than a site whose content remains static over time.”
- They Also Measure User Behavior – What happens when your once wonderful content becomes old and outdated? Your freshness has faded. For example, your website has a blog and the last entry was over a year ago, or you have a schedule of events or a calendar and the last entries were months ago. As content becomes outdated, potential customers spend less time on your site. They press the back button to Google’s results and choose another website. If a year ago a user spent 4 minutes on your site, and then this year 15 seconds looking at an empty blog, news or event calendar. This factor called ATP – Average Time on Page, and is a big SEO factor on rankings as well. It’s important enough to say again. The longer someone stays on a website domain, the higher it will score in searches.
So between what Google learns from its bots and then analyzing your user ATP and bounce rate, freshness matters for keyword searches and your placement on the search engine results page.
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