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Content Freshness: Why Google Cares About Your Publication Date

Are you tired of seeing your website buried in search engine rankings? Do you feel like you’re constantly chasing the competition but never quite catching up? The solution may be simpler than you think: Produce fresh content.

Apr 6, 2023

7 m read

Content is at the heart of search engine optimization (SEO). To drive organic traffic to your website, you need to create the engaging content your target audience is looking for. Keyword research can help you discover what to write about, and uncovering search intent will help you frame your content. But what happens when you’ve written a great piece and you see content decline or rankings drop over time? 

Now it’s time to think about content freshness and creating processes for continually improving your web pages and blog posts.

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In this article, I’ll explore what fresh content is, why it’s essential for SEO, whether content freshness is a Google ranking factor, and tips for maintaining fresh content that can help you improve your SEO rankings.

What Is Fresh Content?

Fresh content refers to content that is new or updated and relevant to your target audience. This content can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, or social media updates. 

Fresh content is a key aspect of content marketing because it provides site visitors with the latest, most accurate information on relevant topics. Fresh content isn’t just new content — it also includes updates to existing content that provide value to the user. When content is timely and relevant, it helps establish a website as a credible and authoritative source of information, encouraging users to return and refer others.

Content freshness may vary depending on the industry, audience, and website. For example, for an e-commerce website, fresh content may mean updated product descriptions, new product reviews or comparisons, and instructional videos or user guides. For a news website, fresh content may mean the latest news stories, updated analyses or reports, and new opinion pieces. While the type of content will vary depending on the niche, the common thread is that it must be relevant, accurate, and timely to offer value to your audience.

Why Is Fresh Content Important?

Publishing and maintaining fresh content is an essential strategy for keeping your website up to date and interesting to your audience. When a website consistently updates important content and posts new relevant pieces, visitors are more likely to stay engaged and return to the site for future visits. This increased engagement can lead to longer session times and lower bounce rates, which are positive signals to search engines that your website is providing valuable content to users. This, in turn, can help your pages rank higher in search results.

Why Is Fresh Content Important for SEO?

Google and other search engines use complex algorithms to determine page rankings in search results. One of the factors they take into account is content freshness. While this isn’t the most vital Google ranking factor, it can play a role in whether a page ranks higher than another comparable page, all other factors being equal. Most search engines will prioritize websites that consistently keep their content up to date over those that don’t. After all, they want to refer users to the best possible match for their query. 

Fresh content can also lead to improved user engagement and additional backlinks, both of which can help boost your Google rankings.

Is Content Freshness a Google Ranking Factor?

Yes, according to Google announcements and studies by SEOs, content freshness appears to be a ranking factor.

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving, and there are many different factors that can impact search engine rankings. These factors include things like site speed, mobile-friendliness, domain authority, backlinks, and content quality, among others. While Google has never released a comprehensive list of its ranking factors, SEOs have compiled ranking factors over the years based on Google patents and their own research and data analysis.

Over the years, Google has released several algorithm updates that have specifically targeted fresh content. For example, the Freshness Update in 2011 aimed to provide users with more up-to-date search results, while the Caffeine Update in 2010 improved the speed and accuracy of Google’s indexing process, making it easier for it to include fresh content in search results. These updates helped lead us to our current thinking around fresh content.

There’s also evidence from case studies and experiments that suggest fresh content is indeed a ranking factor for Google. For example, a study by HubSpot found that companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month received 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four blog posts per month.

Google’s algorithm is complex and there are tons of factors that can impact search engine rankings, but it’s clear fresh content is an important part of SEO that you shouldn’t overlook.

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Check out our content writing services.

Tips for Maintaining & Producing Fresh Content

Now that we’ve established the value of fresh content, let’s talk about keeping your content nice and ripe.

1. Update Existing Content To Showcase Freshness

Updating existing content is an effective way to keep your website fresh without having to constantly create new content from scratch. By revisiting and refreshing older content, you can improve its relevance and usefulness to your audience, while also improving your website’s search engine rankings.

There are several ways to update existing content: 

  1. Add new information or data to the content. For example, if you have an article about a topic that has new developments or research, you can update the article to reflect the latest information. This can help improve the accuracy and value of the content for your readers.
  2. Refresh the design or layout of the page. By improving the visual appeal of the page, you can make it more engaging and easier to read for your audience. This can also help make the content more shareable on social media platforms.
  3. Add or update images and videos. Visual content is often more engaging and memorable than text-based content, so adding new images or videos to an older article can help to make it more compelling for readers. For ideas, check out top ranking posts to see what kind of content they feature.
  4. Reformat the content to make it more scannable. Many readers today prefer to scan content rather than reading it in full, so breaking up long paragraphs, adding subheadings, or creating bullet points can make the content easier to consume.
  5. Update statistics and quotes to reflect current trends and events. By referencing the latest data or insights, you can show your audience that your content is up to date and relevant. This can also help improve the credibility and authority of your website.

2. Create New Fresh Content

Creating new content is a crucial component of any successful SEO strategy. However, coming up with fresh and relevant ideas on a regular basis can be challenging.

Here are some effective strategies for creating new content that will engage and inform your audience:

  1. Keep up with current events and trends in your industry. By following industry news, you can identify emerging topics and trends that your audience will be interested in. You can then create content that addresses these topics and positions your website as a valuable resource for the newest information.
  2. Conduct original research. By conducting surveys or studies and publishing the results, you can provide new insights and perspectives on relevant topics. This can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry and attract backlinks from other websites.
  3. Interview experts or thought leaders in your industry. By getting insights and opinions from knowledgeable individuals, you can create content that is both informative and engaging. This can help you attract a wider audience and build relationships with other experts in your field.
  4. Create how-to guides and tutorials on relevant topics. By providing step-by-step instructions on how to do something, you can provide valuable information to your audience while also showcasing your expertise. This type of content is often highly shareable and can attract new visitors to your website.
  5. Publish product reviews and comparisons. By reviewing or comparing relevant products, you can help your audience make informed purchasing decisions. This can also help you establish yourself as a trusted resource in your industry.
  6. Create interactive content like quizzes or polls. Interactive content is highly shareable and can help you attract new visitors to your website. Plus, it can be a fun and engaging way to educate your audience on relevant topics.

3. Maintain a Consistent Publishing Schedule

Maintaining a consistent publishing schedule is crucial for producing fresh content and showcasing your expertise. By regularly publishing new content, you can highlight that you’re a reliable source of information and keep your audience engaged. 

Follow these tips to establish a comfortable publication cadence:

  1. Set realistic goals for how often you will publish new content. This could be once a week, twice a month, or any other frequency that works for you.
  2. Create an editorial calendar to plan out your content in advance. An editorial calendar is a schedule that outlines the topics and publishing dates for your content. By planning out your content in advance, you can ensure that you always have fresh content to publish and that you are addressing a variety of topics that are relevant to your audience.
  3. Repurpose existing content to create new pieces. Repurposing and optimizing existing content is a great way to create fresh content without starting from scratch. For example, you could take an old blog post and turn it into a video, or update an old article with new information and data. This can help you save time while still creating valuable content for your audience.
  4. Use automation tools to schedule and publish content in advance. For example, you can schedule blog posts in advance on your CMS. This can help you save time and publish your content on a consistent schedule.

Content Resources

Maximize Your Ranking Potential With Great Content

Need help cranking up your content machine? Download our SEO content ebook to learn how to create a repeatable process that leads to excellent fresh content.

SEO content guide

SEO Content Guide

Are you ready to rank? Download this ebook & learn how to craft content that hits the top spot in Google Search.

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