Does Freshness improve web rankings?

You may have heard that the Google search engine favors web pages that are updated regularly. So is it true that the search engine giant increases the search result rankings of pages that have “fresh” content? Company pages do not need updated content and there are some topics on which people cannot create new content without repeating old information. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, explains why you should not worry about the freshness factor and how this factor only affects the ranking only for some queries.

Freshness is not the only factor

According to Matt, it is a misconception that frequently updated pages automatically rank higher in search results. Traditionally all searches are classified as navigational, informational and transactional. For example; when you type in “IBM” and are looking for the company homepage, it is a navigational search. Searches for information on how to do something and to buy a product are classified as informational and transactional searches respectively. Moreover, information on a current event like an ongoing natural disaster is termed as a QDF (Query that Deserves Freshness) as there is new content being generated continuously about this event.

However a lot of content like research articles, about me pages, etc. cannot be updated regularly. Google uses over 200 signals to rank a website and “freshness” is just one signal. So instead of focusing on just one signal, SEO writers need to focus on the other factors that determine website ranking. Do not rewrite and rehash old articles in the name of website freshness. If your website is in the tech industry or deals with breaking news-based content then freshness is an important factor, but it is not as important for other websites. Content creators are advised to think about creating original, long-form and evergreen content instead of just changing words in old articles and publishing them again. Google algorithms will sniff such articles out and this could probably hurt your website’s ranking. Check out the video below where Matt Cutts explains the “Freshness” signal.