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Fresh content + SEO: master the content freshness signal

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content freshness google

Here’s why content freshness should be part of your SEO strategy.

One of the SEO ‘constants’ over the past decade or so – in fact, you could say a building block of Google’s core algorithm, in its effort to best interpret and respond to user behavior – is content freshness.

How Does Fresh Content Matter to Google?

While regularly refreshed content through blog posts and other updates isn’t equally important in ALL site situations (more info on ‘Queries Deserve Freshness’ here), if you’re in a field where you can provide useful information around long-tail “searches of discovery”, odds are that the freshness of that content – in the sense that you’re providing a meaningful update on a particular topic – does factor in how Google decides how to index it. Likewise, new/updated content on your site overall works to encourage Google bot to return to your site and reindex more frequently.

Here’s what I recommend for all sites:

  • As a benchmark, check your competitors to see if they have active blogs and/or are adding new site content regularly in other ways (social media widgets, etc.)
  • For website types where long-form blog content can help you build authority on subjects relevant to your business (e.g., “how to” posts, tutorials, recipes, etc.), I recommend 1-3 blog posts every 60 days. This is subjective; you can post more or less than this, but it helps to look at competitors.
  • Keyword research can be a great tool to help you generate ideas around long-tail keywords. If the keyword type indicates an informational ‘search of discovery’ where A) you can provide some authoritative content and B) the searcher will spend time on your site and boost engagement signals, consider it for a blog post.
  • Share your blog content out to all your social media accounts – and consider a solution like https://dlvrit.com/ to help automate social sharing (Dlvr.It will auto-share posts if you add your site’s RSS feed)

The above is a great start to help you build up visibility in Google with fresh, quality content updates — but using WordPress there’s more we can do to keep Google bot coming back regularly to reindex:

3 Fresh Content Tips for WordPress

1) Improve Static Page Freshness with Feeds

Add a social sharing widget or plugin to a static page (a landing page like “About Us” or the Homepage that otherwise won’t get updated as often as your blog). This is a great way to “set it and forget it” with regularly rotated content for a page on your site that already has relatively high authority. (If you’re posting regularly to social, that is.)

Some WordPress themes, like mine, come with a social sharing feed out of the box.

While I don’t have a go-to plugin solution to recommend – yet – out of what I’ve read, I’d suggest browsing the options on https://10web.io/blog/best-social-feed-plugins-for-your-wordpress-website/. As with any plugin you install, do your due diligence upfront: check reviews to be sure there are no widespread compatibility issues, for example, and run a backup first.

Here’s what one source Diggity Marketing says on updating static pages:

“Once per month, take an existing page that you’re trying to rank (your homepage or a silo page) and update the content on it. It doesn’t take much. What this does is tell Google that the specific page that they’re already ranking has just got even more current and deserves its place in the SERPs.”

2) Add an RSS Feed (+ Ping Services)

No, RSS feeds do not directly improve your SEO; however, they CAN help your fresh content get discovered faster in the sense that they’re another place besides your XML sitemap for Google to see where and how often your site content is updated.

More details on RSS & SEO here — but the simplest case is that WordPress comes with built-in support for RSS, so why not use it?

Also: https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-create-custom-rss-feeds-in-wordpress/. If you use Dlvr.It, you’ll want to take a look if you want to auto-share any new content that you add to custom WordPress page types (I’ve added my Portfolio pages to RSS this way, for example).

Bonus: add https://www.shoutmeloud.com/wordpress-ping-list.html . No evidence that this is a conclusive advantage over WordPress’s default, but as the article says,

“Now by default WordPress notifies all major ping services, but we can always extend our limit by pinging more services by adding them manually.”

3) Use ‘dateModified’ Schema, Update Old Posts

So this is a really interesting post I stumbled across from AuthorityHacker.com – it details how to hack the ‘dateModified’ Schema (one indicator to Google about how fresh your blog content is). According to what they’re saying about updating “old” blog content, Google favors the ‘dateCreated’ field over ‘dateModified’ for freshness:

“If the publish date displayed on the front end of your site is still the original publish date of your post, you will NOT get the full ranking boost you deserve.”

Of course, there are caveats – this is a hack for blog content specifically and I haven’t tried this method yet (or found evidence it can work for other content types). If and when I ever get the time, I’ll try it using the plugin they recommend, WP Last Modified Info. FEB. 2020 UPDATE: I’ve added the plugin, tested my blog & case study pages using Google’s Structured Data Tool to confirm it’s working, and will update based on results.

Thanks for reading!


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