On Friday I posted a bit of a rant on the Google freshness update that took place in November and hit about 35% of searches. It isn’t so much that freshness shouldn’t be important, but the timing of it and the fact that a few of the big changes this year really hit small businesses pretty hard. Especially right as the holiday season kicks off that many rely on for their livelihood.
I still believe that most updates to the algorithm tend to make it more difficult for the average businessperson to survive without someone like me. That is great for my business, but it also puts them all in a tough spot as there are so many scam artists out there that capitalize on the fear of all of this. With that in mind, I wanted to look at “freshness” the way the industry believes Google looks at it, so people can better understand.
Breaking Down Google’s “Freshness”
There are two main aspects of freshness to look at. Site freshness and page freshness. As with all factors, Google tends to balance both of these things. With links, your domain has a general strength that comes into play, and then each page has its own level of strength. The same likely applies to “freshness”.
With much of SEO, the basics have always been the same, but the weight and quality with which it can be factored changes over time. Google gets better at figuring out cheaters and finds better ways to measure things. With that improvement, sometimes certain aspects becoming bigger factors in the overall equation. With that in mind, this great “freshness” explanation from Moz last year, which is actually an update of a previous article for freshness sake, is still quite relevant.
- Site Level: How often does new content appear on your site? How often is content updated and is it core content?
- Page Level: When was your page created (or more importantly, seen by Google)? When was it last significantly updated or changed?
How Do I Stay Fresh?
Freshness has always mattered. Even in the early days when clients would start SEO they would ask when they would see changes, and I would explain that if Google sees you change your site regularly, they come back and check it out more often.
Blogs are there for a reason. They are an easy way to add content. The problem is that many small businesses don’t blog or subscribe to some sort of content that isn’t original, so it ends up getting them in more trouble than what it is intended to help. If your new content is duplicate content, it is hurting you more than helping you. Below are suggestions to keep Google happy by keeping fresh.
- Site Level: Blog at least once a month. Preferably more than that. I try to do it at least once a week.
- The blog should be original new content and be at least 350 words; at least 500 if it is a very important concept you are trying to rank for.
- I would sprinkle in some pictures and section breaks to keep it digestible.
- This will keep a constant infusion of “new” content on the site to show Google you are paying attention and keeping on top of things.
- Page Level:
- Most page level factors will also boost your overall site level freshness, but these are specific to important ranking pages on your site.
- Once a quarter or so (We are still figuring this out), update your core pages to make sure they are still relevant and updated with the most important information. Even if things haven’t changed much, it is worth updating and maybe referencing recent examples to make it more relevant to the current reader.
- Share your blog posts or any content updates to all of social media.
- If it is a substantial change, do a press release or promote your social media sharing so it makes a splash.
These are just the basics and we are still learning more, but these concepts will always help with your site freshness. Some things in SEO always hold true, and at the highest level, if you are doing this stuff right, it will always help. It is just that with limited resources, sometimes the basics are more and less important. Now “freshness” is more important and we need to pivot to account for that.