What Fresh Content Really Means to Google and How to Create It

Though we know that having fresh content can give you an edge when it comes to ranking well on search engines, many people are still unclear about what counts as fresh or even if they’re providing enough new material.

What is fresh content?

Content that has been recently created, updated, or rewritten is called fresh content. This type of content is favored by Google and its readers because it’s usually more up-to-date than the other types of content out there.

In recent years, since the introduction of the freshness algorithm in 2011, Google prioritizes new pages containing the most up-to-date content for keyword searches. These pages appeared on at least one search engine results page (SERP) for 35% of all searches.

  • There are four different dates we can find when looking at an address on the internet
  • Published: When it becomes available online for public viewing.
  • Indexed: When Google came across this page for the first time and added it to its database.
  • Last Crawled: The last time these bots crawled the page
  • The last time this page was edited.
  • Google gives people the power to discover amazing things, in seconds

If a page is revised and re-published after the first crawl, the publication date shows when it was most recently modified by the site. If the page has not been revisited since its initial post, it will show as last visited time.

Page modification time metadata

Is content freshness a Google ranking factor?

The freshness factor does not operate in isolation; rather, it is among many factors or trust signals that search engines use to rank and users take into consideration before they click on any results.

And since what people want varies depending on the search they perform, it’s important to take a person’s query into account when determining whether or not they’re looking for fresh content.

Therefore, in this article, we will cover:

  • Content freshness can be defined as how relevant something is to what people are looking for at the moment.
  • When freshness ranks high on the scale of importance.
  • How to Refresh Content
  • How to keep your breath fresh

How does Google measure content freshness?

As stated by Moz, Google estimates the freshness of your content according to several factors. These include:

Page start date: The date it was first indexed by Google.

Page Updates: Big changes mean more freshness.

Several changes were made to the main content on this page. These new updates make this article more up-to-date than changing date and time stamps would have been.

Frequent changes to a page mean more freshness.

New Page Creation Rate: Websites that update their webpage content more often are likely to receive higher freshness scores. The freshness of page backlinks: Links from websites with high freshness scores can increase your link score.

Fresh and “stale” queries

Google searches for fresh content are categorized in the following areas:

  • Recently, there were some important events (e.g., playoffs).
  • Trending topics are constantly changing which can affect what you see on google’s page title update.
  • Recurring events and reports are always happening.
  • Continuous, but ever-changing information such as product reviews.

The Categories of Queries where recency does not have a significant effect on the accuracy of the information could include

  • Recipes for food
  • Facts about history
  • A broad topic
  • This is an evergreen subject

Here are some examples.  

“Stale” Queries

But when it comes to newer keywords like search marketing, there is less concern about freshness. If people are looking up this phrase, they might just be trying to learn the basics and find out what exactly search marketing entails.

In this case, an older yet still relevant page that gets new backlinks but doesn’t update may very well compete with newer pages who don’t have any inbound links or keep losing theirs.

Fresh query

People who are interested in catching up on what’s happening within the e-commerce world may be looking for news about this year’s changes, as opposed to last year’s updates.

If not updated, those pages targeting recent sensitive queries will eventually decay over time; but if they are often kept up-to-date or reviewed then they are less likely to deteriorate.

How to Improve Your Freshness Score: Best Practices

As we have established, fresh content will affect your rankings for time-sensitive keywords, so your SEO strategy needs to consider the freshness factor.

1. Prioritize Content That Is Already Ranking

If you want your content to stay at the top of search engines, just updating it isn’t going to be enough. These are some resources which will help you rank your content:

  • Google’s First Page: 10 Free Ways to Get There
  • Rank for Keywords in 10 Easy Steps
  • SEO Basics: The Complete Guide

SERP query to enter google homepage

From this search engine ranking page, we can see that recency matters; however, it does not matter much for the query How to get to the Google homepage.

2. Than actually change the release date

In his SEO Blueprint training course, Glen Allsopp stresses the importance of making sure that when you publish content and associate it with your URL, you make sure that there are no discrepancies between what year Google associates with the article and what year appears in your title.

It’s not uncommon for an article to have been published that does not match the publication date.

3. Regularly update old content

The Google Research publication notes that with so much new content being released daily, it’s impossible for search engines to refresh every webpage.

Google ranks pages higher if they are updated frequently, so when you make changes to old content try adding new information or updates from other sources. Doing this will increase your freshness score and make it easier for time-sensitive information to rank.

According to AHREFs’s latest social media marketing report, they need to update their content at least every few days.

4. Check the SERPs

The most efficient way to determine what type of content users might want is to take a look at the publication date of the search result. If you were to calculate the average age for each one of these results, it would make it easier for you to decide which option would best suit them.

5. Update your content…

A common practice is to change the publication date and year in an article’s title, but it’s nothing new for Google. According to Google, adjusting date/time labels is less important than changing the body of the page. If you want your work to really be found by readers, then updating its core content is paramount.

Though giving off the illusion of staying updated might attract more visitors in the short run, if people are still able to tell that your content is outdated, then they’ll only spend a little bit of time on your page. If this happens often enough, it will affect how well you rank for keywords.

6. Publish new (evergreen) content regularly

Sometimes you might want to post about your favorite topic. And as we’ve already learned, how often you post affects your Freshness Score. So make sure to share new content every now and then, whether it’s on an evergreen topic or a timely one. The more posts you do, the more Google will know to crawl through your site.

7. Submit to Google via Search Console

One way to ensure that you maintain a high freshness score is by creating new posts on a regular basis. You can do this either with time-sensitive posts or ones that are meant for long-term exposure. But regardless of what kind of post you make, remember to publish them regularly so Google knows when they need to come back and crawl your website again.

When to update, republish or publish new content

Whether it makes sense to update your content, so Googlebot can crawl through your page more often and rank you higher is dependent on how important freshness is to your search query.

Here’s what Ahrefs suggested:  

Maintain freshness by updating pages frequently or publishing new articles on the topic frequently.

Fresh content is always important; update posts routinely and consider revisiting old posts if they start to become less popular.

When freshness doesn’t matter, you can focus on making the most in-depth and informative article about the subject.

So when freshness matters, it’s time to find out what you can do.

How do I know if I need to refresh my content?

Keeping tabs on traffic trends, including where it is coming from and how engaged users are with content, is crucial for gauging the website’s freshness.

When to update content

As we’ve said before, even though it may seem like minor updates don’t do much for a website, they can make all the difference when it comes to ranking well in search engines. Here are some examples of small changes which you can make on your website

  • A new internal link has been added
  • Platform screenshots have been updated
  • Change the title
  • List item added

Utilizing this strategy will draw an increased amount of attention to your evergreen content – without requiring too much revision.

When to modify and republish content

Modifying outdated posts/pages and changing the posting date is an effective way to make them look more recent.

This becomes important when an article needs to be updated to satisfy user demands for up-to-date content. It should earn you a higher quality score than a simple overhaul.

This strategy is ideal for topics that are popular among many people. It can also work well if you want to maintain backlinks or other benefits of search engine optimization (SEO).

When to post new content

A good example of a topic that needs new content often is an article listing or explaining trends around one particular subject.

For instance, Supermetrics releases an annual report on the latest affiliate marketing trends. When searching for affiliate trends, none of the results are over 2020 years old.

In order to ensure that this topic stays up-to-date, we create a brand new article yearly which includes an expert from the industry and is up-to-date with the latest information.

A secondary reason for this is that we also target the query affiliate [current year].

One of the benefits is that you can see how things change over time based on what you’ve already posted.

Check keywords and query data

Keyword searches tend to fluctuate – not just trends. If your page traffic is down then it might also be due to a recent decrease in keyword volume for that search.

Track performance metrics

For instance, if you were looking for an article on how to make coffee, a page that ranks lower than others but has a higher number of clicks as well as an increased average visit time and decreased bounce rate will show Google that the user thinks it’s relevant enough for their search.

Over time, following these metrics for your content will provide you with insights about the effectiveness of your content.

You can track these metrics by either using Google Analytics or scraping them from a spreadsheet with reporting tools such as Supermetrics.

View position history

Or, there may be new competition for your target keyword and one of the new pages manages to insert fresh content. A brief look at the SERP position history can reveal whether this is the case.

A great example of Sprout Social modding and republishing.

Pro tip: Another option is to combine several outdated articles related to the topic into one updated ultimate guide and redirect all traffic from the old page to the new one. You also won’t end up losing your existing traffic, especially if those old pages are performing well

Whenever you republish revised articles, it’s a good idea to share them on social media, just like you would any other new article to increase engagement.

Keep an eye on clicks and impressions

Keeping a close eye on clicks and impressions and the search queries that generate them can help you assess when you need to update your pages to improve freshness.

The purpose of keeping content fresh is to better serve users by ensuring your information is up to date. This should lead to more clicks and engagement, and organically attract links, all of which send a signal to Google that your page should appear at the top of search results.

We’ve covered a lot in this post, so let’s recap:  

Freshness is a ranking factor on Google searches. This applies to time-sensitive and trending queries.

Frequent updates might not make it easier for your page to rank higher than older authoritative results if recency does nothing for the queries you’re targeting. To decide whether or not freshness is important to a specific keyword, search for that keyword and find out what its rankings are among the top 10-20 results.

If you want to ensure that your post remains relevant, pay attention to the traffic ranking of the page and make sure to update it only when its rank starts to dip. By comparing performance data with other posts on similar topics, you’ll be able to deduce what type of strategy is best for maintaining a steady flow of targeted visitors.

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