How Google Scores Fresh Content
The implication is that Google measures all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. While some queries need fresh content, Google still uses old content for other queries.
Freshness by Inception DateA webpage is given a “freshness” score based on its inception date, which decays over time. This freshness score can boost a piece of content for certain search queries, but degrades as the content becomes older over time.The inception date is often when Google first becomes aware of the document, such as when Google bot first indexes a document or discovers a link to it.
Document Changes Influences FreshnessThe age of a webpage or domain is not the only freshness factor. Search engines can score regularly updated content for freshness differently from content that doe not change. In this case, the amount of change on your webpage plays a role. For example, the change of a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text.
The Rate of Document Change Impacts FreshnessContent that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years. In this case, consider the homepage of The Washington Post, which updates every day and has a high degree of change.
Freshness Influenced by New Page CreationInstead of revising individual pages, websites add completely new pages over time. This is the case with most blogs.Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.
Changes to Important Content Matter MoreChanges made in important parts of a document will signal freshness differently than changes made in less important content. Less important content includes navigation, advertisements, and content well below the fold. Important content is generally in the main body text above the fold.
Rate of New Link Growth Signals Freshness FactorIf a webpage sees an increase in its link growth rate, this could indicate a signal of relevance to search engines. If folks start linking to your personal website because you are about to get married, your site could be deemed more relevant and fresh. That said, an unusual increase in linking activity can also indicate spam or manipulative link building techniques. Be careful, as engines are likely to devalue such behavior.
Links from Fresh Sites Pass Fresh ValueLinks from sites that have a high freshness score themselves can raise the freshness score of the sites they link to. If you obtain a link off an old, static site that has not been updated in years, this doesn't pass the same level of freshness value as a link from a fresh page.
Changes in Anchor Text Signals may Devalue LinksIf a website changes dramatically over time, it makes sense that any new anchor text pointing to the page will change as well. If you buy a domain about bikes, then change the format to content about cooking, over time your new incoming anchor text will shift from bikes to cooking. In this instance, Google might determine that your site has changed so much that the old anchor text is no longer relevant, and devalue those older links entirely.
User Behavior Indicates FreshnessWhat happens when your once wonderful content becomes old and outdated? If your website hosts a local bus schedule for 2009, then as the content becomes outdated, folks spend less time on your website. They press the back button to Google's results and choose another site. Google picks up on these user behavior metrics and scores your content accordingly.
Older Documents Still Win Certain QueriesGoogle understands the newest result is not always the best. Consider a search query for “Magna Carta". An older, authoritative result is probably best here. In this case, having a well-aged document may actually help you. Google’s algorithm suggests they determine the freshness requirement for a query based on the average age of documents returned for the query.
Last WordThe goal of a search engine is to return the most relevant results to the users. This requires an honest assessment of your own website's content. What part of your website would benefit most from freshness?
Old content that exists simply to generate pageviews, but accomplishes little else, does more harm than good for the web. On the other hand, great content that continually answers a user's search may continue fresh forever.Be fresh. Be relevant. Most important, be useful.