Lee Odden

SEO Basics: Telephone Game & the Fresh vs. New Content Debate

Lee Odden     SEO

SEO Fresh ContentThere’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.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Great advice.

    “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.”

    Spot on. There are so many myths regarding search engine optimisation, that some fall pray to these myths and actually start doing it.

    The example of seo myths spreading by '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.' is just classic!

    Nabeel

  2. Keeping your content fresh is a must if you want repeat visitors; if you do anything to 'fool' search engines, it will eventually fail. It is like lifting weights; if you want to get bigger, you need to put the time in and pay the price. If you cheat, you only fool yourself

  3. Amber Khan says:

    I agree, I think you should always concentrate your efforts on your homepage (making changes that are appropriate) and then add new content as regularly as possible. Not only does it give users new information, but also is a solid SEO strategy. Great article!

  4. expressempression says:

    Some great and important points. Somehow everyone seems to get the importance of fresh content but fail on understanding the implication of it. Content isn’t just changing the text in your website or homepage. It should be interesting and engaging to the visitors. And as homepage is the first page visitors see it should be more engaging and handled carefully. And when writing content relevant keywords must be incorporated.

  5. catherinewoodhill says:

    I always make sure to update my home page, not just for seo purposes, but for a good user experience. If the front page isn't new, how will anyone know anything on deeper pages is new. As far as adding new pages, in addition to adding new products (obvious) I use my blog to create value added, seo rich content. Content is still king.
    catherine
    http://www.lagrandedame.com

  6. Well said,

    I think fooling search engines by simple re-ordering text also leads to fooling visitors.

  7. SEO keeps on updating the content of the website and keeps changing the keywords and tags to improve the search visibility of the page and you should keep updating your site also. For more information about SEO and Link Building you can contact me http://www.offshoreally.com

  8. Where the challenge comes in, though, is not just adding new content, but adding new *value*. Adding pages and pages of fluff may give the search engines lots of entry points, but will turn off the readers. And converting readers into buyers is the whole point of having a website anyway, isn’t it?

    Not that you were advocating adding lots of fluff, Lee. Just wanted to add the clarification!

  9. Of The Day says:

    I’m hung up on creating new content, but it doesn’t seem to get me anywhere without some good quality links which just aren’t coming. Of course I don’t spend nearly as much time promoting the blog as I do creating content for it. Vicious cycle.

  10. Great comparison to the game of telephone! So true…it always seems to come down to the one basic thing – provide a great user experience and give them something (content) to return to.

  11. The basic rule of thumb I've always gone by is to just keep adding valuable content to my blog, and focus on the ability of my content to help my target audience as opposed to just improving my SEO.

    However, I will admit that I somehow have gotten the impression over the years that simply modifying my existing content would somehow “awaken” the search engine crawlers thereby improving my site's SEO.

    I guess we all need to verify our sources before coming to certain conclusions and not just take everything we read on the web as the gospel truth.

    So wait a minute, how do I know that *you're* not full of it?! But seriously, thanks for the great insight, I will definitely keep this in mind when working with my clients.

  12. Jeffrey Dudley says:

    It’s always been my experience that “new”content has more impact on visitors vs updating existing content! Adding new pages with new content will without a doubt push your PR up by forcing spiders to deep link your site. I started using WordPress to build my sites about a year ago because of the 100’s of excellent widgets that put this process on autopilot.

  13. Una Comparación Excelente , me mucho gusto el articulo , es Muy profesional .
    Por la informacion gracias .

  14. I just listen to Google’s guidelines. Since they don’t specify where you need fresh content, I think the 2 best ways to do this are 1.)blog and 2.) social media feed on the home page. At least this way, you don’t even have to get into the code to update, you can just update your Twitter or Facebook.

  15. Hey Lee, I noticed for one of my sites. When it started I got high SERPs pretty quickly. After writing content for about 2 months it ranked in the top5 SERPs for my favorite keyword.
    After 2 months my work needed all my time and I rand out of time to write content. So it went inactive for 3 months and I nearly dropped from Google’s first page. After writing some pretty content I began to rise again though.

    Looks like Google really likes us content writers. I wonder how this continues with social search:)

  16. Thanks Lee…

    I agree with you 100% on this….there is often too much confusion on the best way to keep content fresh. Other than your points, experience has shown two things

    1. Keep content fresh for the “user” and good things will happen
    2. Don’t keep making constant changes to Title or Description Tags – Both are obvious changes directed mainly towards Search Engines and guess what people – The Search Engines know it!

    As with most things in life…An Effective Balance is usually the Key…Thanks again.

  17. Yes content is King. By good content we can show our service to our client very briefly and in new way so they can attract toward us.
    Generally i have update my site content every two months or some time when i like to add some new service for my clients.

  18. Awesome post!

    Thanks for adding clarity to what really is a broken telephone debate!

    Gaming Google and the other engines is always the weak strategy vs understanding what your customer wants to know and building content they want to consume.

    Scott Armstrong
    BrainRider
    “Sharing what we know to get customers is what we do”

  19. I have always used the mantra “If you ignore your website, so will Google”. I guess I have to change this a little to “If you don't add new content to your website, Google will lose interest”. I'm glad that if I am happy with my content, I can keep it and then concentrate on new content. News releases, email archives and blog postings should suffice as additional content if the proper SEO activities accompany the additions. Thanks for clarifying this subject.

  20. I don't think there's much a debate if you're talking google. Google wants you to add fresh content, change your content, and continually make it better. Its a positive attitude that they are trying to spread around. Like stephen said “if you ignore your site, so will google.” That's where things like live feeds and blogs come in handy!

  21. Quote: “..since there aren’t any singular sources of great SEO training, much of the information distribution occurs through a sort of telephone game.”

    I wonder how long it will be before a SEO training ‘giant’ emerges? Most fragmented industries experience this kind of shift, yet no-one has really emerged as a potential powerhouse. Is SEO different?

  22. Great article Lee and I love the way you wrote about the way word gets around and, often, hyped by the bloggers and tweeters who add their often ‘uneducated’ and ‘inexperienced’ opinion in order to get their own name dropped into the ‘thread’.

  23. I agree, I think you should always concentrate your efforts on your homepage (making changes that are appropriate) and then add new content as regularly as possible. Not only does it give users new information, but also is a solid SEO strategy. Great article!

  24.  

    Nice information, it’s very useful for me.