How fresh is your website’s content? Creating high-quality and long-form content is an essential step to achieving high search rankings.
Equally important, however, is updating your website’s content to keep it fresh. With fresh content, search engines will view your website as a more relevant source of information than competing websites with stale content.
What Is Fresh Content?
The term “fresh content” refers to online content that was recently published or recently updated.
Adding a new paragraph of text to an existing page or publishing a new page of content, for example, creates fresh content. In comparison, old content that hasn’t been updated in a while is considered stale.
The Importance of Fresh Content
Fresh content sends the message that your website is a source of highly relevant information, thereby compelling search engines to rank it higher.
Search engines process trillions of search queries each year. While the exact intent varies, all search queries involve a user seeking specific information.
If your website contains stale content, search engines may view it as being outdated or inaccurate. In turn, your website may rank lower than other websites with new or recently updated content.
For nearly a decade, Google has used content freshness as a ranking factor. In 2011, the Mountain View search company rolled out its Freshness update. As the name suggests, this update focused on improving the rankings of fresh content while simultaneously lowering the rankings of stale content.
According to Google’s Amit Singhal, the Freshness update affected over one in three search queries, making it one of the most significant updates in Google’s history. The “fresh” signal doesn’t power rankings like it once did, but keeping your website content relevant absolutely sends the right signal to Google.
You can take advantage of visitor comments to keep your website’s content fresh. Whether you operate a traditional website or a blog, visitor comments will automatically update it with content. When a visitor leaves a comment, it will increase the page’s total word count.
Some visitor comments are short, consisting of just one or two sentences, whereas others are longer. Regardless, each comment adds new content to the page where it’s published.
With comments enabled, you’ll likely discover spam comments being submitted to your website. Black-hat webmasters and marketers may leave irrelevant comments containing a generic statement, such as “Great post, keep up the work”, along with a link to their website.
To prevent spam comments such as this from diluting the quality of your website’s content, you’ll need to moderate them. Any comments containing links to commercial websites are typically spam and, thus, should be rejected.
Find and Fix Errors
While not as impactful as enabling commenting, finding and fixing errors can improve the freshness of your website’s content. Whether it’s a misplaced comma or a misspelled word, errors are bound to occur when writing articles for your website.
Assuming they are few and far between, errors shouldn’t have an adverse effect on your website’s search rankings. Nonetheless, finding and fixing them offers an opportunity to update your website’s content.
Replace Old Citations
When reviewing your website’s content, look for old citations and replace them with newer citations. Citing sources for facts, statistics and figures make your website more credible by showing visitors where you obtained the information from.
Unfortunately, citations can lose their relevance over time. As new sources of information emerge, they can make old sources irrelevant.
If you encounter a citation on your website that’s older than two years, see if there’s a newer source available with which you can replace it.
On Google, you can search for sources that were published within a specified time frame by clicking “Tools” directly below the search field and choosing “Any Time,” followed by “Custom Range.” You can then specify your desired frame, such as the past one or two years.
Add Transcripts to Videos
If your website has videos, consider adding transcripts to them.
Google and Bing have come a long way in their ability to crawl websites and analyze online content, but they still lack the technical capabilities to decipher videos.
With transcripts, you can help search engines understand your website’s videos while creating fresh content in the process. A transcript, of course, is a text version of all the words spoken and music played in a video.
Transcripts are used primarily to assist hearing-impaired viewers. If a viewer suffers from hearing impairment, he or she can still understand the video by reading its transcript.
Transcripts are particularly useful at keeping video content fresh. It’s not uncommon for transcripts to contain 500 to 1,000 words of text.
If a page on your website has a single video with little or no accompanying text, adding a transcript will update it with a substantial amount of new content. Check out Temi and Rev.com for transcripts.
Repair Broken Links
Because links are a form of online content, you should update them when necessary to promote fresher content as well as a more positive user experience.
Broken links, for instance, should be repaired by changing the destination URL to the appropriate address. If a link is broken,
Broken links are nonfunctional links that trigger a 404 HTTP response code when followed.
They typically occur either when a webmaster enters the wrong destination address or when the page at the destination address is deleted or moved.
The WordPress Plugin Broken Link Checker can help with this as well a scan by Screaming Frog if you use that software.
Publish New Pages of Content
In addition to updating your website’s existing content, you should publish new pages of content to keep it fresh.
Whether it’s a how-to article, a product review, or a transcribed video, each new page will create fresh content, which search engines love to see when crawling websites.
How often should you publish new pages of content exactly? It really depends on your website’s niche. Competitive niches like business financing may require multiple posts per day.
For most niches, at least one new page per week should suffice. Just remember not to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Don’t let stale content obstruct your website from climbing to the first page of Google and Bing.
By keeping your website’s content fresh, you’ll have a better chance of scoring first-page rankings for your target keywords.