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Hopefully, we should all know that websites need good, relevant content in order to be successful at SEO. The better your content is, the more likely it will be to show up in search engines and naturally attract links to your site. Additionally, fresh content is a major factor that plays a role in search engine rankings (which was recently confirmed by Google’s patent application).

Perhaps it would be best to explain using an example. In one of the websites that I own, I noticed a huge drop in my traffic from organic search (note the graph from my Google Analytics account). It wasn’t a slow progressive drop, nor did I see it coming. It was just a simple, out-of-the-blue loss of traffic. I researched a bit, and it only took a couple minutes to find out why. My #1 keyword for generating traffic was no longer ranking on the first page.

Naturally, that’s a huge concern as a website owner. Fortunately for me, I don’t really use this site beyond the occasional SEO experiment, but for a site owner that relies on organic traffic to generate income, it could be nothing short of catastrophic.

Nevertheless, it provided a powerful example of the need for fresh content. This particular website was a blog, and I hadn’t updated for almost 4 months. I have no doubt that other sites competing for my keywords were updating more regularly. I went into my site and submitted a blog post a few days after the sudden drop. It wasn’t much – just a “sorry I haven’t posted anything lately” post. It was a simple effort to put in something new.

The result was a complete return of the rankings and traffic (and then some):

graph 2

Of course, not every site is a blog that will need to be updated weekly. Some sites could possibly go for years without actually needing an update. Nevertheless, don’t neglect your site. Here are some final points and bits of advice for making sure your content is fresh:

  • If necessary, regularly perform a site review of all the content on your site. Does it still make sense? Is it up to date with any changes in the industry?
  • Make sure that you have a blog and that you update it regularly.
  • Don’t make small changes just to keep the search engines pacified. They look for sites that are more “fresh”, and small changes might not be enough.
  • Making changes does not mean building a new website. Just add a page, or update a couple pages.
  • Make sure to watch your competition. You want to get a sense for how often the industry updates so that you can make sure to stay with the trend. If you update less than other websites, you run the risk of losing rankings.