Gone are the days where a website that was five or more years old with a thousand or more pages could count on ‘age’ as a positive factor in the search results. In some cases, those old pages could be having a negative effect on your search rankings. Search engine users have long bemoaned the fact that search results were often outdated and not relevant to what they were looking for. Sure, you could tweak the results to find the most recent content related to your search term, but that takes extra work, and modern users want the best results first time every time.
Google is now taking positive steps to promote fresh content over old content. I won’t go into the technicalities here – you can read an excellent article by Justin Briggs on this topic here. It’s not rocket science to work out that fresh data is often more preferable to stale data, even if the fresh data is only rehashing what is in the stale data. As website owner, you need to determine whether or not your content is starting to fall into that stale category. If it is, there are a number of options available to you.
The first option is to ignore the stale content while adding new content on a regular basis. Hopefully the new content fits the ‘freshness’ test and helps to prop up your website. A second option takes the process one step further – you create new content based on your very old content. The key is to make it relevant to today including links out to some of the latest information available. Your third option is to update your old content using current data and links to current discussions or information.
For most business owners, time is the biggest issue. Do you have time to work through your old content to bring it up-to-date? You will also need to consider relevance – is the content written five years ago still relevant to today’s user? If it is, then another option exists; that’s to gain some social media activity around the content and to build fresh links. If the search engines can see that your old content is still relevant to today’s users and that these users are still referencing it in social media and linking to it on their websites or blogs, then rather than being classified as stale, it maintains importance and age once again becomes a positive factor, not a negative. Is your website looking a little stale?