The Balancing Game for Fresh Content
In recent years, Google has become more and more focused on delivering fresh and relevant content to users. This means keyword stuffed content and repetitive, fluff-ridden websites have been mostly weeded out, and they are no longer appearing in search results. Even the ‘kings’ of search like zine articles are no longer appearing for a lot of searches. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
SeoExplode recommends producing content and staying relevant can be tough in today’s market because there is so much competition. But did you know that even the freshness of your website’s content has a bearing on how Google will be surfacing your website?
Some queries will require fresher content than older, evergreen content. Evergreen content is simply content that is so well-made that it has withstood the test of time over the years.
We see this type of content all the time: articles and posts that have been written three or four years ago but are still rocking the first page of Google results. They’re there mainly because people click on them a lot and people spend a lot of time in these websites after they’ve clicked through. But then again, some queries require newer information, which begs the question…
What’s fresh to Google?
Fresh content is freshly-made and relevant content. For website owners that have multiple properties online, we know that it’s not going to be a simple task of just generating new content, because that can get crazy if you are not used to managing a full content calendar.
But the thing is, if you have four or five pieces of content and you switch the content on pages to keep the content on your website from stagnating, that is simply not going to cut it, because Google analyzes for context, and it can very well understand if you’re just switching content on pages to make it appear that you have new content monthly, when in reality, you don’t.
Take note that Google analyzes the content on pages specifically to learn more about what a website is really about. So in the long term, if you are switching content on pages you are doing more harm than good. Google needs to get a feel of what pages are about, and there has to be constancy, because we want to show Google that you’re building a great tree of content based on specific topics.
When does fresh content serve your goals in SEO?
Technically, QDF or “query deserves freshness” affects less than 40% of all searches. But this is still a huge figure, considering that Google gets billions of queries per month. But it’s important to remember that some types of information don’t need regular updating at all.
For example, a query about the parts of a skeletal system will likely surface evergreen content from medically oriented websites that don’t have to be updated at all because there’s nothing to update, unless what the user is looking for is news about new discoveries about the skeletal system, which would then require a different set of search terms, anyway.
How can you benefit from “query deserves freshness?”
If you want to take advantage of QDF, you have to know the criteria that make it possible for Google to surface newer content updates for particular search queries. First criterion is that the search query is referring to an urgent or hot event or topic. For example, when you search for recent news, you will most likely see posts that are only minutes or hours old.
This is understandable, because people definitely want the latest news, and surfacing related content that is a month old is unforgivable.
High quality pages that offer updates about recent happenings will be surfaced, provided that they have already been scanned by Google and are trusted as news sources (this is another thing altogether, as Google News has its own criteria as to which websites can be shown by the search engine as news).
How can you provide updated information?
The second instance is when the topic in question requires information to be changed over time. Say for example, a person was looking for the best DSLR cameras in the market so he can buy off Amazon.
DSLR cameras change every few months and people tend to write about new DSLR units at least on a yearly basis. Obviously, the websites that provide more up to date information about DSLR cameras will be more attractive to people, so they are going to navigate toward those websites.
The date of the content as well as the content’s features itself will have an impact on user experience.
For example, if someone clicks on a link that says “Best DSLR Cameras of 2019” but end up finding cameras from 2017, the user is going to be disappointed, and he will probably jump away from the site as soon as he realizes that the page’s title is misleading.
This happens all the time, which is why Google strives to provide fresher pages instead of evergreen content because there is a huge chance that evergreen content that has just been ‘updated’ will only have an updated title, and not an updated body.
So this is another important rule when generating content: don’t just update your old content, create new content. There’s a world of difference, really. Creating new content hinges your website on the most recent happenings in your niche, and that will reflect in the keywords and topics that your content will contain.
Fresh versus evergreen content
Compare this situation with a long-form “evergreen” content that talks about things that emerged three years ago. No matter how you update that content, Google is going to note the date of publication and the other keywords that are swimming in that content soup. Trust us; it’s not going to sway in your favor at all.
The third criterion is time-sensitive searches. Time-sensitive searches are basically determined by changes in any particular industry or market. New products, services, updates, and reviews. Think long and wide about what you can bring to the table in terms of recent events and urgency and you have the formula for QED if you’re gunning for this criterion.
Would it help if you changed the title of an older piece of content with good Google rankings and just updated the title and added some new stuff?
Not really. Here’s why: Google will likely not apply the SEO points of the older content to the new content you have just appended. So you can do a lot of tweaking on the new content and make it shinier, but the results will ultimately vary depending on how Google measures the new page with the update and how users react to the update.
Also, it is not a good idea to remove older content so you can update with new pages with new content. Google loves new content and pages that are highly targeted, but if you have useful old content that is getting plenty of traffic all these years, there is no real reason to unpublish or delete the older content. You need to focus on increasing the topical relevancy of all your pages, and deleting older, relevant content may produce the opposite of what you were aiming for in the first place.