It is widely believed that blogs that publish quite ‘often’ have a higher chance of infiltrating into Google’s SERP and thereby boost its organic traffic. Although this popular belief certainly has some credence to it, there is equally great need to bust some myths that have been ingrained in this popular belief. For instance, the word ‘often’ is quite subjective. Simply put, not all blogs have to publish that often while blogs belonging to certain niche have to publish fresh content almost every day.
There is also great degree of confusion regarding what does content freshness actually means, with most people confusing freshness with ‘frequency’ alone. When actually the word ‘frequency’ has a lot more deep meaning from a Seo perspective.
But before I start with unraveling some of the myths, I’d like to give background story about when and why Google started paying more attention on the aspect of content freshness. To seek answer for this question, we’ll have to revert back to 2009, a year when Google launched caffeine update. People in the SEO industry widely believe that it was through caffeine update that Google started giving more importance to fresh content.
Most SEO experts cutting across the industry claims that caffeine was actually an indexing update that allowed Google to crawl and index websites more efficiently. This enabled the search engine to dole out more updated and fresh search results, weeding out results that were outdated and obsolete. Caffeine update also meant that Google would give more importance to those websites that update their contents regularly. That said, this isn’t the sole determinant whether Google will crawl and index your website.
Google Caffeine update was shortly followed by another important update called ‘content freshness.’ This particular update brought into picture the new phenomena called ‘QDF,’ more on that a bit later.
Now coming to the question of why Google brought these back-to-back major updates. Well, the internet had begun to mature to a great extent by 2010, which simply meant that Google now had to deal with more websites and online data than ever before. This obviously meant that its job of fetching quality search results for end users got lot trickier and the only way it could have bailed itself from this tricky situation was to come with an algorithm update. It eventually did so and Google Caffeine & Content Freshness updates were born.
Partly thanks to these two updates today if you ask Google who’s Brad Pitt’s current girlfriend it won’t answer either Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie. Its powerful algorithm after taking into consideration all the ranking factors including content freshness will know for the fact that both are its ex-wives. Instead it will search for websites that offers the latest updated information about Brad Pitt’s personal life and only these websites will make into the SERP list. Just to quench your curiosity you can do a quick Google search for Brad Pitt’s current girlfriend and the answer you’d get is ‘Nicole Poturaiski’ and not Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie.
This example perfectly sums up ‘content freshness’ and why it is important for Google to dole out updated and fresh content in many cases.
Now coming to the crest question: which websites/blogs need to publish often and which don’t.
The answer to this question is quite simple, the websites/blogs that deals with content pertaining to ‘QDF’ will surely need to publish quite often while others may not have to publish that often.
What is QDF?
QDF stands for ‘queries deserve freshness,’ the name itself is quite self-explanatory. Simply put, some queries deserve freshness, just as in the case of Brad Pitt’s current girlfriend. However, not all queries deserve freshness since some topics are simply evergreen and they don’t necessarily need to answer these queries by updating their content.
For instance, queries regarding the history of U.S or Australia mostly do not need any updated content. This simply means that any high authority website that has published an article regarding these topics & keywords many years back will continue to rank higher on Google’s SERP even today.
Let us take another example, suppose a reputed website like Ahrefs and Semrush publishes an article on evergreen topic like “all-time best strategies for acquiring backlinks” as back as 2018. If this individual web page has received lot of backlinks over the last two years then it will continue to rank higher even in 2020. Simply because the topic is evergreen and therefore do not fit into QDF category.
Does QDF solely determines how often to publish?
It largely does but again there isn’t any universal rule. The more important question to ask is which websites and blogs fall under QDF category. Mostly news oriented websites fall under QDF category, including news websites that come under niche categories like technology, fashion etc.
But why mostly news websites. Well, since news are immensely dynamic by nature they ought to be updated regularly. People desperately crave for news, be it in the areas of current affairs or any niche areas. Just check out the official website of any news organization, like wall street journal or New York Times. You’ll find that content on these websites are updated on daily basis, sometimes even on hourly basis.
So how often should non-QDF websites publish?
Most personalized blogs fall under non-QDF category and therefore they don’t have to worry about publishing content on daily basis. That said, they will have to ensure that fresh contents are published regularly to maintain the study flow of traffic on their blogs. But is there any definite number as to just how often blogs should publish.
- Considering that most blogs deal with evergreen content and fall in non-QDF category, 5-6 quality articles every months is enough to maintain the consistent stream of traffic. I can come with so many blogs that publish 5-6 articles every month and still manage to rank high on Google even for tough keywords. Take the example of shoutmeloud.com and Backlinko.com, they don’t publish often but still rank higher on Google’s SERP.
- There are also scores of examples of old articles (written 3-4 years back) ranking still higher in Google even today. This only goes on to prove that for Google ‘frequency’ alone doesn’t count for freshness, it equally pays heeds to quality that can stand the test of time.
- Don’t indulge in thin content. The 5-6 articles you’ll be writing every month should be comprehensive and exhaustive by nature. I don’t want to go into the specifics of word count but articles should not be too short. Technically, articles that are less than 300 words are considered as thin content.
- Does updating old content qualify as fresh content? The answer is ‘no’ especially if you’re making only cosmetic changes to your old articles and trying to morph it as new articles. That said, updating old content can bring lots of traffic but this stands true only if you’re making qualitative changes to your old articles.
- Don’t fool yourself by thinking that by merely changing the publishing date of the article, you can game Google. Today Google’s algorithm is immensely sophisticated and therefore using such tricks won’t yield desirable result.