Eight months after Google’s Panda update, which sent many SEOs and web designers scrambling to overhaul the content on their website, Google has announced another change to their ranking factors.
Though Google often changes the algorithm internally, most of these changes simply refine the company’s previously stated goals. As such, when Google announces a ranking factor or algorithm change, SEOs take notice, as this typically means that optimization is about to have another layer of complexity added to it.
The Panda update, for example, shifted Google’s focus from individual pages to whole websites, and punished low-quality content site-wide. This meant an end to having low-quality, “Crawler-Only” content, packed with keywords and hidden away on a website to support less keyword-dense but more “human” content on the front end. Instead, we are now seeing an increase in the number of high-quality websites ranking on the first page of any given Google search result.
Fast forward those eight months, and Google has released another algorithmic update which the company felt was worthy of announcement. This update, however, adds to and enhances one of the relevancy metrics used by Google: age of content.
While it is true that Google has considered the age of a given website’s content as a part of its algorithm for quite some time now, the new update seems to take things to the next level. By attempting to focus on recent posts for the keywords queried, Google is encouraging not only high-quality content, but frequently-posted, high-quality content.
However, does this mean that you need to post every single day about your company? Not necessarily. The goal of the algorithm is not to force this sort of competitive relevancy, according to those announcing the changes. Instead, the idea is that the algorithm will be able to judge queries and, on an individual basis, be able to best define a concept of “freshness” for that query. Thus, a query for “politics” will put a stronger emphasis on newness of content than a query for “pizza”.
Thus, the key to maneuvering this new update is simply to have a strong understanding of your industry’s news cycles. There are things which happen in every industry, but some industries are “slower” in this respect than others. As such, we wind up back at the old quality versus quantity conundrum. A lot of poorly-written, unimportant, or petty content is not going to help your business, despite this updated “newness” ranking factor. At the same time, a static web page, no matter how good it is, will fall even further behind.
The goal, then, should be to update your website and/or blog as it becomes important to do so. When is that? It depends on the industry. For a slower industry, it might be once per month or even longer. For a fast-paced industry, it might be daily. However, whatever it is, sacrificing the quality of your content for more of it is certain to get you slapped by the next run of Panda.