Blog/How ‘freshness’ can affect your SEO
17th May 2021
Since Google began its quest for world domination in the late 1990s, people have been desperate to find out exactly what factors it uses to rank its websites, with Google equally keen to keep them to itself.
The discoverability of a website can make or break a business, and with Google maintaining its tight grip over search, knowing how to play their game is as important now as it’s ever been.
Google’s ranking factors combine in a series of algorithms that the tech giant uses to determine how worthy your site is of a decent ranking, and which sites – of the billion it has to index – are best left on the shelf to gather dust.
In order for your website to rank highly you have to tick a series of boxes that demonstrate that you have built and are managing your site properly (quite what ‘properly’ is determined by Google!), each relating to these ranking factors.
Things like age of site, page titles, images, links (inbound and outbound), site ownership and the structure of your URLs play a part, along with a couple of hundred other factors.
Something that seems to (nobody can be 100% sure!) contribute a significant amount to a page’s ranking is its ‘freshness‘.
Freshness is first determined – it is thought – by Google indexing when your page was first published, by how often the content is updated, and how much of the content has been updated.
If it’s ‘core content’ – ie a key part of the content of the page, or part of a significant page on your site, also know as ‘cornerstone content’, then it will contribute more to your site’s ‘freshness’ than would a less significant page.
Freshness is also calculated by the number of inbound links to your site. If lots of other web users currently consider your site worthy of linking to then you get a ‘freshness’ boost.
Likewise – user behavior on your site. If people arrive there, find what you have to offer interesting and browse awhile rather than immediately jumping ship, Google might be fair to assume that your content has a good level of ‘freshness’.
By gauging what keywords you’ve used on any given page, Google can also determine how often it ought to be updated. Pages titled ‘news’, ‘updates’ or ‘latest’ should be updated more often, and deserve to be surfaced more quickly by Google when their content corresponds to a spike in search volumes for a specific search term.
For example, if you have a page titled ‘Tiddlywinks news’, and you’ve kept it up-to-date with regular tiddlywinks updates, then if all of a sudden the tiddlywinks world champion does something INCREDIBLE, and everyone’s talking about/Googling him/her, then Google would consider your freshness on a hot topic (in this case tiddlywinks) to be of importance and you can expect your page to surface very quickly.
However, bear in mind that Google also gives credence to established sites and pages, and so it’s not worth tinkering with pages for the sake of it.
As always, Google is looking for website/web design best practice, and so it’s always best to organically achieve freshness by writing good, timely and relevant content rather than trying to force it, because when you do there always seems to be another algorithm there to catch you out!