Today a client asked me a great question. They wanted to know how often a page on their site should be updated. Someone had “informed them” that their pages, which rank very well, would lose ranking if they were not updated at least once a month. The client website is a law firm.
In this particular case, the informant was incorrect, but the answer varies.
How often does a web page’s content need to be updated?
Some pages can be left alone forever. In other cases, pages should be updated annually, semi-annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily.
There are many different types of pages on the Internet, and Google and other search engines are pretty good at determining relevance. In fact, that is the only thing anyone needs to worry about, is content relevance. Just ask yourself: is this page accurate and relevant? If the answer is yes, you are good to go. But, some pages do need to be updated often.
- A page about “the 10 day weather forecast in Miami”. This page should be updated daily.
- A page about “the safest car in the USA”. This page should be updated annually as new cars and crash tests come out.
- A page about “best cell phone camera” would need to be updated about once every month or two.
- A page about “New Mexico car accident lawyer” would probably not need to be updated very often at all.
Pages which need content freshness to remain relevant
Some hard core computer geeks know how to search Google for practically anything, but 99.99% of people just want answers. Keeping with the times, in 2011 Google announced they updated their algorithm which “better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness. Searches which are affected by freshness factors include:
- Recent events or hot topics. Think earthquakes, game scores, etc. If you Google “Tornado”, you likely want to know if you need to curl up in the hallway or not, no see search results of a tornado that occurred 20yrs ago.
- Recurring events. Eg: Elections. When you Google “election” you want to know about the current election, not one from 50yrs ago.
- Frequent updates. Eg: “best cell phone camera”, “safest car”, “weather”, etc- you get the idea.
How Google determines content freshness
I have seen first hand on many occasions how Google determines freshness. If your domain consistently delivers fresh and relevant content, it will often rank well when you put out fresh and relevant content. There is a uniqueness factor as well. Google also looks at the date/time content is published and understands if content matches a searcher’s intent. Some other SEO people think that social media or search volumes could play a role, however, I have yet to see this myself.
Updating old content
Now, I personally have pages online which rank on page 1 for competitive, nationwide searches and have done so without any content changes from 2002. And it is 2016 right now. So, content can remain unchanged for decades. But, there are cases where old pages should be updated. If you have a medical website which gives CPR advice, the “how to give CPR” page is going to need to be updated every couple of years as the methods used for CPR are updated. Again – stay relevant / correct.
New content creation
Now, a domain can indeed greatly benefit from fresh content, on other parts of the site. For example, a business with 20 main pages will often perform much better when it has a blog. In my previous business, I had a website with about 9 pages, but I had around 1,400 articles up on the blog. This is the same way many attorneys, orthodontists, real estate agents and other professionals run their websites. This is very important, and also very different from updating a single page on a website.