I have yet to do any SEO training with anybody without this question being asked. As with most things SEO, there is not a clear cut answer of “you must update every x days / hours”. This article will help you understand what is needed for your website.
It is pretty unanimously agreed among SEO’s that fresh content on a website is a must. That is where general agreement ends though. The urgency to update with fresh content is different because not all websites are the same in layout or execution. They are also targeting different markets with differing norms.
A site like Twitter counts it’s fresh content updates by the second, but this is not realistic, possible or even desirable for many other sites.
I’m going to use this blog as an example. The last post I wrote was waaaaay back on December 4th 2013, nearly eight months ago! Back then the blog was number one on Google.ie for “seo training” and hovering between position 3 and 4 for “SEO”.
Skip forwards four months and it had maintained position for the training keyword but was down around position 8 for SEO.
That makes sense. Actually I’d have expected a quicker drop off for a blog.
I would suggest that a blog post once a week is plenty for most businesses. Divide blogging duties between just two staff and you only have to blog once a fortnight. Now that’s achievable!
After 8 months this blog is, at the time of writing, at position 25 for “SEO” and position 2 for “SEO training”. I can definitively tell you that 8 months is too long between blog posts, but that is not likely to be a surprise to most of you!
What may be a surprise is that in most industries it is not necessary to blog several times a week to maintain position on Google. In fact it is not even necessary to blog once a week.
In general blog posts tend to decay in rank a little faster than paged content. This is the nature of blogs reflected in Google rank. The information is usually time relevant, or subverted by other fresher / better content on the web.
This is important: What you are aiming to achieve is a situation where your customers / visitors are eager to read what you have to say. This means giving them fresh and INTERESTING content as often as they want it, but not throwing too much content at them, or low quality content, for the sake of a schedule. You want your site / brand to stay fresh in their minds, but not be the annoying site that bombards them with too much or low relevance information. This is particularly true where you are syndicating your site content through social media like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
But I was told I had to try and blog every day. Is that wrong?
For one person writing a blog post, yes, absolutely that is wrong. I don’t know anybody that is capable of writing interesting material day in, day out, on any topic. If you are a reporter then that is your job and you have constantly changing sources of material. If you are a business owner then your business doesn’t change at that rate.
I see businesses struggling to keep up blog production to a schedule and the results are often awful. Having a schedule is a good idea and prevents long periods (like my 8 months) without any blogging taking place. However, if the content is forced and rushed it has the following effects:
- Short posts with little to no content of value to a visitor.
- Overuse of keywords in short articles.
- Lots of links to pages on the same site or to other company websites, often with exact match link text. If a post is only a few paragraphs and every post contains a link, then the number of links to content is very high. This dilutes pagerank horribly.
- Lots of very similar posts. When inspiration runs dry it’s easy to repeat yourself. These similar posts then compete with each other and limit the effectiveness of any one of them.
- Boring, boring, boring! If you are finding it hard to be enthusiastic about writing content on your site, then the chances are that a reader will find it boring to read.
By static content I mean pages. Does your “About Us” page have to be changed regularly for example? The short answer is “no”.
If you have put a considerable amount of time and effort into a page on your site (of course you have), then so long as that information remains current and relevant then that content does not need updating. Where content needs updating is where somebody else has written better, more in-depth, informative articles that knocks your content down a bit.
We can see this even with blog posts. A really good, in-depth post will still rank, for years, whereas a short “throwaway” post will start to drop in a week or so.
While data freshness is a factor, the quality is still absolute king. Think about this: Google want’s to return the best, most relevant results to a user based on their search query (and history – but that’s a subject for another day). If your information is currently top of the heap, then sit pretty. If your information is deemed by the algorithm to be less good than other pages on the web then you have some work to do.
Keep an eye on your ranking for relevant keywords to the page. There are quite a few tools that will do this for you. Personally, I rely on Moz quite a lot, but a bit of searching will show you some alternatives. None of them are free, but will save you hours and hours of manual searches.
Of course rank isn’t everything. I would argue that engagement is a better indicator of consumer satisfaction with your content. The number and quality of links, page layout and structure, being mobile friendly, being easy to read and many more factors all go into your rank. It remains a good indicator for when your content should be updated though, in the absence of other changes.