There’s a game of telephone going on about a hundred different theories of Search Engine Optimization and the influences or signals that affect search visibility. One that I continue to hear revolves around the notion that search engines like fresh content. I’m sure the genesis was something like: Someone told someone else at a conference and they posted it to a forum where someone read and blogged it and then someone else Tweeted it whereupon someone else blasted it via Ping.fm and Hootsuite. This sort of cycle repeats over and over again.
The point is, with telephone game advice on SEO or any other topic, the message gets diluted. Fresh content apparently means different things to different people and the version I continue to hear from SEO “experts” (agency, independent and in-house) is that search engines like websites that change their content often. The logic is that changing content on a page will attract search engine crawlers more frequently and somehow improve search visibility for the page.
Room for clarification. Changing a home page or news page with updates is good for website visitors because it gives them something new (hopefully) with each visit. Updating of content such as news links that allow search engine crawlers to follow those links to new content is also a plus. Refining on-page keyword optimization as needed is a best practice as well. But changing the text on a page for the sake of change, thinking that such a modification will improve search engine visibility, is a great example of the SEO telephone game.
The real opportunity with “fresh” content concerns adding new content (new pages) on a regular basis. Adding new pages provides a number of benefits: Each new web page added to the website creates a new entry point and a new destination for links from other websites. Creating topically specific pages with text, images, video or other media provide a better user experience and gives other websites interesting content to link to. Of course a quantity of quality links from other relevant websites increases direct traffic and can positively influence search engine visibility, sending even more qualified visitors.
There are many budding search marketers out there and since there aren’t any singular sources of great SEO training, much of the information distribution occurs through a sort of telephone game. Website owners must make the effort to know the difference through their own testing and if it makes sense, engaging an experienced and reputable search engine optimization consulting firm.
So when you hear webmasters or marketers talk about the need to update existing content, understand that the opportunity to have the most impact on serving customer and search engines is through scheduling the creation, optimization and promotion of new content (text, image, video, rich media), not just changing text on a page to somehow “fool” search engines into thinking your web pages are fresh.