When discussing SEO, it's impossible not to at least think of Google. Why? Because Google engineers invented the concept of "SEO" and also its “rules.” By “rules,” I mean the algorithms that determine which websites land on the first page of the search results. Lately, Google engineers have honed in on the concept of "freshness," or placing greater emphasis on returning the freshest web content for most queries.
So now you're probably wondering: what makes a website fresh? Here are 7 important elements to focus on as you manage your site.
1. Date of inception. The inception date is the first time Google indexes your page, or puts it into its database of pages. Unfortunately, the inception date degenerates over time. So, the older a website is, it lessens in freshness. It might go without saying that if your site was created over 5 years ago, you may be due for a website re-design.
2. Up-to-date content. Don't assume that by merely changing one sentence on a homepage, you can get a "fresh" score. A large amount of updated, or changed content (typically textual content), will score high on the "freshness meter."
3. Regularly updating content. Rather than re-writing content on your site once a year, rewriting content once a month is looked upon as fresher, and updating content daily will help you even more (ever wonder how daily news from major newspaper websites like the NY Times and Washington Post end up to be at the top of Google?). Consider daily or weekly blogging or including pulling in Twitter/Facebook updates into your website
4. Adding pages. Adding new pages to your website will give you a good freshness score. When comparing its database of sites and trying to determine which site to rank above another, Google takes into account the number of pages each site has. The higher the number, the more relevance Google assumes that site has. While this isn’t certainly the only ranking factor, page count does weigh in. This is another way blogging can help with your SEO results as each new post (regardless of its length) counts as a page.
5. Updating IMPORTANT content. Updating key portions of content such as your main body of text (a welcome paragraph for a church website for example), rather than focusing on changing up your navigational items, advertisements, or footers will give you a greater return on freshness. While we have spent most of this post talking about search engines, here lies an important point: websites are mainly built to attract human visitors. If you show up at the top of Google, but your site appears outdated or lacks the graphic engagement that it needs to keep a visitor, you may get a lot of initial hits, but visitors will quickly bounce away (a.k.a. your bounce rate) and move on. Your site won’t really be effective in driving leads or business for your company.
6. Become the talk of the town. If your site becomes a topic of the internet buzz and respectable individuals (via social media) and websites (ex. on blogs) begin repeatedly linking to you within a short period of time, this will alert the search engines that you are relevant, up-to-date and important. Don't think you can abuse this with link-farms and the likes. Google is smarter than that and is known for cracking down on such abuses, banishing sites far down the list for these search engine taboos.
7. Visit Duration. The amount of time visitors spend on your website is important in Google's opinion of your freshness. Many times a visitor will hop right back off a page if they find it's full of outdated content (or even if it just LOOKS outdated like we talked about before; think about it - you've done it!). If this happens often enough, Google will interpret that pattern to mean your content is not as fresh as a competing site.
Wrapping it up.
So, what does all this mean for you? Google is doing its part in trying to help you as a user sift through the billions of search results returns you receive for any given search topic. If you want to get an A+ in SEO, freshness is a major factor that you can’t afford to ignore.
Is your content relevant? Are you keeping it up to date? We provide tools that will help you keep your site fresh and your content engaging to your audience. Use Backstage, our content management and marketing solution, to address each of the seven areas above and you'll find it a breeze to keep the content on all of your pages up to date. If you need some attractive graphics created to spice up your home page or if you're ready to add a new blog, we are ready to help you present a fresh and attractive website that scores well with your audience and with Google. Get in touch with one of our marketing experts today.
For further reading, check out these related blog posts:
• Is your website optimized correctly for Google's new standards?
• Dramatically Improve Your SEO By These 4 Simple Steps
• Google's search initiatives and how they affect you
• SEO: Keywords and Functionality
• Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO, Google