When webmasters publish new pages on a website, it’s common for those pages to sit there untouched in the future. However, efforts to add new content to a site may be more effective to gain better search rankings and more traffic by focusing on updates to existing pages.
By keeping content fresh, the information in it will remain relevant and up-to-date. This is useful for website visitors and as a result, it helps to improve placement in search engine rankings. This means all SEOs should pay close attention to whether their content is out of date.
Fresh Content Basics
Information changes over time. What we thought was true 10 years ago may not be the case anymore today. Sometimes it can take years for relevant changes to take place that would require content to get updated on a website. In other cases, content could become out of date after only days have passed after a new page is created on a site.
The main goal of all search engines is to provide useful and relevant information for a keyword phrase. That’s not possible to do when a site contains old data and facts that could end up misleading and misinforming a site visitor. Search engines like Google and Bing understand this fact too. Take a look at what Bing says about Content Freshness on their Webmaster Guidelines page:
Monitor Website Traffic
Larger websites may have difficulties keeping up with content updates, but it may actually not be necessary to attempt to keep all pages on a site up to date. By monitoring traffic using Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, it’s possible to narrow work to a limited number of pages.
The most popular content on a site should always be at the top of the list to keep updated on a regular basis. Google Analytics makes it easy to create a list of the most visited pages for any period of time. Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools can both be used to find out what pages have the best search engine rankings and how much traffic those pages receive from searches. Also be sure to consider content that has a low placement on high traffic keywords. The Average position statistic let’s you know where your site shows up in the results. When you see pages with an average position of 10 or higher on keywords that receive a lot of monthly searches, it’s also worthwhile to focus efforts on adding new content to those pages.
With a list of the popular pages and pages with the best search rankings on your website, you can spend your time and effort ensuring that the information on them remains accurate instead of worrying about the entire site. This information will also tell you which pages could be built larger to potentially gain higher search rankings for more traffic.
Content Update Frequency
In general, there is not a set timeframe or frequency for updating pages on a website to keep them fresh. There are really two situations when it’s worth considering content updates…
- Your page lacks relevant content that could be useful for readers.
- The content becomes old and out of date.
Unless you took the time to write thousands of words worth of content for a keyword phrase when you first created a page to target it, there’s a pretty good chance that it is missing some relevant info. This can be a justification to update a page at any time, if you want to add even more text, pictures, videos or other media to make it a more useful resource.
Over time, original info that you share with readers will become old and no longer relevant or useful. Sometimes this happens in days but it could take years or decades to occur. It really just depends on the niche and industry that your website is about. When it does happen for your content, make sure you change outdated data and replace it with fresh knowledge.
Search Engine Rankings
Over time, it’s quite possible that a #1 search engine ranking could drop lower and even disappear from the first page entirely. This can happen for many reasons, but one of the possible causes is out of date and stale content. If you notice that high rankings are beginning to slip on specific pages, it can be a great time to review your writing to ensure that changes aren’t needed.
It’s also useful to add new sections to a page to make it larger, as long as there is still missing knowledge. This can be done in a very targeted manner by going after high traffic keywords.
As an example, let’s say I’m trying to get a top 10 ranking on Google for the ultra-high competition and traffic keyword “SEO”. Here’s a look at Google’s Keyword Planner that tells us how many people search for this term on the Google search engine each month:
If I notice on Google Search Console that one of my pages received an impression for this keyword phrase but the average position of my ranking was 83, it could be a good indication that I need more content. As long as I can add more relevant content to that page of my site, I can add another 1,000 or 2,000 words of content to it. After making an update, I’ll give it a month or two for the changes to take hold and see how my ranking has changed. It’s quite possible to make numerous updates to a page in pursuit of a really high traffic keyword. The reward for reaching this goal can be enormous too.
Use these tips and strategies with your websites to improve your own rankings by keeping your content fresh. By utilizing the services that Google and Bing make available to webmasters, you can greatly reduce the amount of work that is required. Instead of working blindly to add new content and update pages, use real-world data and stats for your site to target your efforts in the most effective way.