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by Mike Essex on 23rd November 2011
There are six great ways to build freshness in to a website:
The first one is to have a blog on any website. Now, this was very true before the Freshness Update, and it’s even more important now. It doesn’t matter how boring your industry is or whether you think no one will be interested in what you do. Every industry has things they can talk about on a blog. You launch products. You have industry events that happen. You sponsor things. You hire new people. Things happen in your industry that you can talk about and that people care about. So have a look at what’s being spoken about in your industry and write about it on a blog. You don’t have to do it every day, but just having some content on there, which includes your keywords in any of the blog titles, is a good way to give you something a little bit extra to appear in the fresh search results.
User Generated Content
Next, you should have user generated content on your site. If you’ve got product pages, the chances are you’re going to hit go, maybe change the price every now and then, and leave it at that. But you need to allow people to leave reviews or add photos or to develop that page over time, because if that page goes up and it’s never updated, it’s not going to be as relevant as, say, a page on Amazon, which has videos of people and photos and lists and all these cool things that Amazon do to keep their pages constantly fresh. So, have a look at your product pages and allow users to add additional content to keep them fresh.
If you can’t do Step 1 and you can’t do Step 2, let’s say your website can’t be updated or you just don’t have the time to do those things internally, then you’ve got to write some sort of external news and push that out into the marketplace in order to have some fresh content. That’s easily done. You can spend about £300 just to get a press release pushed out on PR Wire, and you can write about anything, as simple as a new employee joining the company. Your aim really is just to have something about your company every month that is new and fresh and interesting, so when people search for your brand, there will be some news on there.
The most viewed video we ever did was one on the launch of Google+, and it went really well because we filmed the video as soon as we heard about the Google+ announcement. That was freshness at work. If we’d filmed the video a week later, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful, which means anytime something interesting happens in your industry, you need to film a video about it, do a blog post about it, or create some sort of media-rich content saying what you think about it. And there are things that happen all the time in every industry that just get swept under the rug. Maybe there’s new taxation on that industry, maybe there’s new regulators coming in. Maybe there’s something that you feel strongly about, that you want to say, “Actually, guys, we want to be the people in this industry to fight against this trend.” Well, the best way to do that is by having media on there.
Having a sitemap is a good step if your site just has static pages and you want to tell the search engines how often they’re going to be updated. You can list whatever pages are updated daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly on your sitemap. It’s good for search engines because it tells them how often to come back, and it’s really good for you to know, “These are my pages that I want to update regularly.” If you’ve got that yourself as a spreadsheet or a reminder in Outlook, you’ll know to go back to these pages every month, every week and add a little bit of extra content to make them fresher. Even before the Freshness Update, that’s a good step to have to constantly look at your site pages and say, “What else can we add to make these better for users this time?”
Last of all we’ve got the canonical tag. The worst thing about the Freshness Update is it means really good pieces of content from years ago are now going to get pushed down the search results. We don’t really want that to happen, but the best way to fight it is to take the pages on your site that are old, maybe two years, one year old, that get a lot of traffic now, take the exact same content and update it. So read through it again, make it fresh, make it relevant, and add that onto your site and then put a canonical tag on the old piece of content that tells the search engines, “Actually, we’ve updated this content over here now. This is the one you should index.” Now that can be manipulated by taking any old piece of content and just sticking 2012 on the end of it, but the search engines will know that it hasn’t really changed. So you will have to add extra value to make it worthwhile, which you should be doing anyway. It’s better for readers. It’s better for search engines.
If you follow these steps, it’ll make the customer journey better and you’ll provide fresher information for the users of your site. It will help search engines to better index your content and make it more relevant in fresh searches.