(SEO This Week - February 7, 2022) - Freshness in the search results has long been thought of as a possible ranking factor but SEOs and publishers alike. Google News is a great example of a service provided by Google that significantly relies on fresh content. So, it's natural for SEOs to wonder if freshness plays a significant role in all of the search results.
Significant being a keyword in that statement, as you'll read later.
As far back as one can remember there have been questions about changing the date of web pages to get the page to rank higher, specifically changing the publish date. There are even a few plugins for WordPress that would change the publish date of every page on a blog every day, and they worked. Probably still do for a lot of users in the right markets.
But what are the right markets?
News is definitely one market that relies on freshness, but that's a softball. Even product reviews rely on freshness, especially now with Google going after the Product Review market to monetize their rich snippets while keeping affiliates out of the search engine results.
A simple way to check if your market is leveraging freshness is to monitor the published dates in the search results, if new content keeps getting pushed to the top of the pile, then freshness is a concern for you.
Does that mean you need to write new content all the time?
When you write something new, or siginificantly change something existing, then change the date. Changing the date without doing anything else is just noise & useless.— 🐄 John 🐄 (@JohnMu) February 5, 2022
There is that word again, "significantly".
The real question is, what defines significantly?
Is it changed word count?
Is it added word count?
Is it that the facts changed and you reversed positions?
Is it measurable at all?
When working with a page in a market that doesn't specifically appear to be using freshness Google indexed and cached the changes made to a page, however, 5 days later they have yet to apply those to the search results.
That page received 500 new words, title tag change, meta description changed, images were optimized, and an infographic was added, certainly significant. But not significant enough it seems?
In other applications, complete rewrites of old content were done, the published date was updated, and rankings increased.
So the question remains, is changing the date enough for pages in markets where freshness is important? Or do you need to completely rewrite content, even though a rewrite might not be needed, just to keep pace in a fresh search world?