If you run a news website, then you know the importance of frequent updates. After all, nobody ever goes to the corner newsstand to buy last Monday’s paper. But even if you run a website that doesn’t require constant updating, like a trade publication website, a steady stream of new content is critical if you want to increase website traffic.
How frequently your website is updated affects your search engine ranking, since search engine crawlers use algorithms that penalize stale content and reward fresh content. This is not to say you should get rid of old content. Having a strong archive is critical too because it shows your relevance and perceived expertise in your particular niche.
Search engines calculate the ”inception” date of a page based on when it was first crawled. Then on subsequent crawls, the timestamp of the query is compared to the inception date to estimate how old a page or post is. However, some types of pages require more fresh content than others. A celebrity gossip website, for example, can’t be allowed to go the slightest bit stale, while a website on Elizabethan history isn’t expected to be updated all that frequently.
How Frequently Should You Update?
New articles or blog posts give existing visitors a reason to return, but they also help you increase website traffic from new visitors, whether they arrive through social media links or search engines. Every new post, page, or article is one more point of entry to your site, and the more entry points, the greater the chances of new readers finding your blog. How frequently you add new content depends on the type of site and your goals for the site. Maximum growth comes from sustained, multiple updates per day, and this rate is expected for some types of sites, like news and celebrity sites.
But even if you don’t operate a news website, if you want to increase website traffic at a steady rate, you should post several times a week. Post fewer than two or three times per week, and you’ll still get growth, but it may be far slower than you want.
Google and Content Freshness
How Google determines your site’s level of freshness is influenced by several factors:
- New page creation (mostly via blogging). Some SEO experts say you should increase the number of pages on your site by 20% to 30% each year, even if it doesn’t have a blog.
- Where changes are made. If changes are made to important areas of your site, it will matter more than if you change less important areas of your site like navigation links.
- Rate of growth of new links (with steady growth of inbound links being best). However, if a site shows an explosion in links, search engines may suspect spam or black hat link building and penalize the site.
- Links from fresh sites. They can raise the ”freshness” score of the site they link to. Get a link from a top news site, and you’ll get more juice than you would from a link from a stale site.
What to Expect From Frequent Updating
Commit to frequent updating of your site and you can expect three positive changes.
- The site should rise in search engine rankings. When a site is updated often, the search engines consider it a source of new information and reward it by moving it up in rankings, helping you increase website traffic.
- Existing visitors have another reason to return. The more visitors return, the more likely they are to buy a subscription, purchase something from your ecommerce store, or browse your custom job board.
- Site analytics will become more valuable. As traffic increases, you will have more and better data with which to analyze success. By doing this regularly, you can determine the ”sweet spot” of how often to update to increase website traffic most efficiently.
Newest Isn’t Necessarily Best
Keep in mind that newest isn’t necessarily best. Sites with authoritative historical data aren’t expected to be updated as frequently, and an old page that still receives steady traffic benefits from being an established, authoritative source. So if your site on French history rarely modifies its steadily visited static page on the prison colony on Guiana, it generally won’t hurt your search engine rankings. Google’s patent indicates that freshness also takes into account the average age of documents returned for a given query, so older pages can still pull weight for you.
Everyone wants to increase website traffic, and keeping content fresh while adhering to the highest standards of content quality is one of the surest ways to do that. Traffic development is the key to nourishing revenue streams like subscriptions and job boards, so keeping content fresh can make a serious difference to your bottom line.