In a recent Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts, Google’s distinguished engineer, said that the company’s freshness factor isn’t relevant for all types of content marketing. While developing high-quality blogs and articles regularly is never a bad thing, Cutts reported that Google’s algorithms can decipher the sites that don’t necessarily need to post new content up-to-the-minute.
According to Cutts, the idea of “queries deserving freshness” is something Google takes quite seriously. In the video, he cited the case of search queries likely related to current events or breaking news. Google defines these searches as those requiring an element of freshness in their results. Meanwhile, more informational queries will yield pages offering timeless information that remains relevant.
More than anything, Cutts advised content writers and marketers against spamming tactics that others have used to improve their freshness.
“There are more than 200 signals we use,” Cutts said. “The thing I would not do is say ‘so I need to have fresh content. Therefore, I’m going to change a few words on my pages every day, and I’m going to change the byline every day so it looks like I have fresh content.’ That’s not the sort of thing that leads to higher rankings.”
“The thing I would not do is say ‘so I need to have fresh content. Therefore, I’m going to change a few words on my pages every day, and I’m going to change the byline every day so it looks like I have fresh content.’ That’s not the sort of thing that leads to higher rankings,” – Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer, Google
Users’ queries don’t always demand the most recent information, and it’s important that site content address the primary reasons why a user is searching.
Developing a news content marketing strategy that focuses on regular, timely industry news can help companies appeal to the freshness signal. However, this isn’t feasible for every company, and there are ways to develop a strong search presence without offering fresh content. Forcing updates or creating content that isn’t relevant to a target audience won’t help either. The most important element of any SEO content is quality, and any article or blog post developed that doesn’t offer relevant information will negatively impact search standing – even if it’s fresh.
“I wouldn’t spend so much time thinking about freshness, just because it’s one of more than 200 ranking signals, that you end up missing out on our other signals,” Cutts said.
“Google is relatively good about trying to suss out when it’s good to be fresh and when it’s sort of regular search where the web pages that were good yesterday are also good today.”
Cutts’ comments about adjusting content to appear fresh speak directly to Google’s Penguin algorithm, which focuses on penalizing sites practicing webspam. Brafton recently highlighted separate comments from Cutts that detailed the impact Penguin had on some sites using guest blogging. In these instances, some bloggers were writing posts and making a few adjustments to share them with multiple sites. Making minor changes to content and republishing it, or sending it to other domains, will likely result in lost search position and site traffic.