One of the key components of SEO these days is the certification freshness that is attached to your blog content. Putting out up-to-date, unique, freshly pressed content is one of the few ways that you can organically grow your rankings. Google does this so that users have constant access to the most recent and relevant information. Nobody is going to bother reading things that are yesterday’s news anymore. But how much does it really matter? And should you really be concentrating time and resources into something that seems so mundane or insignificant? A recent study has delved a little deeper into exactly just how fresh is fresh according to the search engine.

First, how does almighty Google determine “freshness”?

Although nobody has ever made it into the brain of Google command and lived to tell the tale, there are some brave souls who have worked to try to unravel the mystery from afar. Based on patent filings from the company, and experiences of people that are smarter than their own good, the most important factors when determining “freshness” have proven to be.

  • Date of inception- No, not the day they watched the DiCaprio classic, but the day that the content was published. Seems only logical right? This is perhaps the most important factor, but not the only one.
  • New link growth- Google’s algorithm attempts to determine what is a hot topic by seeing how much new link growth there is for it. It is highly unlikely that something old and dusty is going to see a surge in new linking or sharing, so if something is being passed around the web like crazy, it is seen as new and hot.
  • Fresh link juice- yum, nothing like freshly squeezed link juice. It really hits the spot. In this case, if you are linked to by sites that are popular among users, and ranked as highly fresh, then some of that gets passed on to you. Drink it up.
  • User behaviour- If your stuff is covered in cobwebs, people won’t spend much time looking at it, or much time on your site at all in general. Google knows this. This is taken into account, and thrown into your freshness score.

Can freshness be faked?

All of this begs the question, is it possible to fool Google and rehash old content to gain a boost in the rankings? According to a study done by an online SEO giant, it is in fact possible, but not really recommended as a means for growth. The study involved taking blog posts, changing the date of publishing and re-submitting them. Many of the posts saw a boost in organic traffic, boost in SERP ranking, improvement in keyword ranking, and many other SEO advantages, albeit probably short lived.

The takeaway

The first thing to take away from this is that freshness is incredibly important, and for better or worse, Google really cares about it. It is also important to note that posts for this study were already very solid, informative posts to begin with, and simply rehashing bad content will do nothing but waste your time. What it should show you is that there is nothing wrong with heading into the basement to take out some old toys, throwing a can of paint on them, and having some fun. We recommend revisiting popular, informative posts, updating the date, and tweaking the content slightly to be with the times and fresh. Although this won’t work for things like news or events, it will certainly give you a slight boost if you want to bring back some informative tutorial posts, or in-depth analysis that need updating.

This study from the world of SEO should serve to prove two things: 1. Google takes freshness seriously and it weighs heavily into your ranking, and 2. There is nothing wrong with finding some good old posts and bringing them to the forefront again so that those who might have missed them get another chance at seeing them. If they are buried deep in your archives, chances are people won’t ever get a chance to read. Just another trick you can use to improve your rankings.