Google Freshness Update: What is it and why regular website updates can help your exposure, SEO, trust and much more

Google Freshness

Keeping up with the changing rules of SEO can be difficult.

My daily routine consists of reading the latest updates from many reputable sources. As we have seen this year, SEO techniques can quickly change and become grey or even black hat.

This then leaves the question, which techniques will always be considered as white hat? My answer… on-page websites changes, content updates and adding new additions to the site.

The above then leads to more people asking – how often should I update my website?

My thoughts…

The best way to describe a website is – its like a shop window online.

Now, if its a shop window, it naturally needs to be updated to keep customers (or website visitors) returning for more. But it’s not just visitors that you need to return, its also the search engines.

Sites that have regular updates will see regular cache dates (cache is when search engine spiders last visited the site). With regular caching the search engines will always find your latest updates which potentially will aid the SEO – more on this later.

I’ve seen websites that haven’t been updated in months and they hadn’t been visited by the search engine spiders or cached in months. To put this into perspective, my site is cached every week by Google and the other search engines.

So the above quickly demonstrates that not only from a visitor point of view, but search engines, updating your site is a must do task.

Remember – whilst your might not be updating your site, your competitors will with fresh content and new ways to engage with customers.

Google ‘Freshness’ update…

Towards the end of last year, Google introduced a new update called ‘Freshness’, which I have seen become more aggressive over time.

In the blog post, Google’s openning statement is this:

“Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.”

I think you can see the direction they are going with this. Google goes on and in a nutshell they have categorised updates into 3 sections:

  • Recent events or hot topics – break news and information
  • Regularly recurring events – regular events such as yearly sports events
  • Frequent updates – updates that are often but isn’t a hot topic

Google then says:

“Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.”

In my mind whatever sector you are in, there is always something to talk about, it could be:

  • Latest news
  • Legislation change
  • Product updates
  • Business updates
  • Best practices
  • Testimonials
  • General reviews

These are just a few ideas to get you going.

To read the post around the Google Freshness update, click here.

Don’t update for the sake of it!

Whilst this video is quite old, Matt Cutts raises a good point about ‘quality updates for users’, yes, update your site often, but make sure they are good updates.

Also, sites that are updated often will also be building on their trust signals from Google. What updates also do is tell Google that you are active and pushing the site forward, with new, fresh and original ideas.

How this ‘does’ help with SEO

Writing quality content and implementing user focused updates to your site will inform Google that the site is fresh and up-to-date, something which it likes. Obviously adding quality content to your site will help with SEO as this will generate good links and shares.

There are certain searches which may not require the frequency of updates, like recipes, but ask yourself, why would Google want to rank something which is old when there is newer and better quality information available.

Remember, Google is all about the user and generating the best user experience possible – this is what the Google Freshness update is all about.

Beyond freshness, the user is key…

Don’t forget, regular and quality updates will make the user return, thus retaining them as a reader and potential buyer.

Also, if they befriend and follow you socially, you can keep in front of them when they are not actively thinking of you with your updates.

So, how often should I update my website?

Personally, I always try and do one quality update a week, but I know this can be difficult.

Try and create a strategy or plan of changes, updates and new content to add to your site which will happen on a regular basis, maybe once every two weeks – but make sure you stick to this.

and don’t forget…

Sitemaps – once you have done the changes to your site or added new content, submit a new sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools.

This will encourage the search engines to visit your site, thus, finding your changes and updates quicker which can impact your visibility within relevant search results.

Credit: Calendar image from SXC.hu

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