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Assume a website has quality content, let's say it's about a topic that does not change: a company whose services and staff stay the same, and they have no news to speak of. The content is accurate, it's just static.

Will this site always lose in search engine results to the sites of similar companies with similar websites with, say, a simple piece of content (e.g.: home page with a "what we're up to lately" subsection) that changes monthly?

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I get frustrated with clients who are given tools to update their sites, but don't. My intuition is that by not adding "fresh" content to their site, even minimal content, they are hurting their search position in a way that's significant. Is that a valid intuition? Are there studies showing this is so or not so? I don't want to push clients to put more on the web if there's not going to be a return for that effort. I was considering building an automated tool to allow clients to set a weekly, monthly, etc reminder to add or update content. Any opinions on how much is enough for the SEO boost? Not every site needs a blog or has regular press releases.
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6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Freshness may be also a factor, but I'm not sure just how much of a factor it is. However, I know that bigger sites rank better. And if you think about it, it makes sense because PageRank is based largely on links to a page. I think that the reason a lot of SEOs recommend having a blog is because having a bigger site matters in terms of the available PageRank that can be thrown around. Also, you have complete control over the anchor text and linking scheme on your own site, whereas you do not on other sites.

At the bare minimum, make sure that their pages contain the keyword phrases that have the highest search volume for their particular niche. A page can be on-topic and accurate, but if it uses the wrong keywords, it can miss a lot of traffic by thatmuch.

Should a client update for SEO purposes? Yes, but that's just part of it. SEO is only a subset of the different disciplines needed for a successful website. I would argue that any business or organization that's interested in doing well online needs to be constantly updating their site, and not just for SEO. Iterative testing and improvement is the only way to have a consistently successful website and it covers everything from SEO to design, copy, offers, marketing, conversion, etc. If you're not testing and improving, you're falling behind.

Do clients buy into that? Some do, some don't. It depends on how serious they are about their business and what they're looking to get out of their website. The better you can educate them as to what is possible and what their competitors may be doing, the more of a chance you have of convincing them about updating, testing, and improving their sites.

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I can't think of a site that would not benefit from at least monthly content updates. I tend to go with a blog, or something much like a blog in most cases because I find that the informal nature of opinion / editorial articles helps build the bridge between clients and self publishing.

I can not think of a single industry that does not have its own sort of 'politics' that a company could write about. Even if your work is just in fasteners, there are bound to be events in the fastener industry that someone could write about.

The main purpose of any single element in a site must be for the site's users. SEO, in my humble opinion is best achieved incidentally. Users will appreciate seeing how a company has grown within its industry over time, which also significantly boosts the chances of the company site turning up in searches.

I try my best to explain to them that fresh content also helps conversions, in addition to helping to get visitors from search engines.

The other thing you can do is develop a relationship with a few freelance writers, refer them to companies who just can't seem to handle self publishing beyond the occasional press release.

Whatever way you do it, make sure that you adequately articulate that regular publishing is not just for SEO.

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I particularly like this advice: "The other thing you can do is develop a relationship with a few freelance writers, refer them to companies who just can't seem to handle self publishing beyond the occasional press release." I think a good writer can help draw out good content. I think you're right, everybody has something relevant to a current site visitor. The trick is to draw it out and put it up. –  artlung Aug 7 '10 at 15:19

... a company whose services and staff stay the same, and they have no news to speak of ...

I believe this statement touches upon the larger problem of "why would anyone search for this" - potential customers couldn't possibly care less about a company's "about us" and "corporate hierarchy" details.

Unless the company has products or services to sell, there's no sense having a website to begin with...

Given that the company must have something to sell, its website should primarily be about what it's selling.

If there are no competitors to worry about, stale content works fine.

If (as is often the case) there are competitors to worry about (and, as is not so often the case, the website is being treated as a part of the company's ongoing marketing activities and not simply as a brochure) then strategies like adding content and updating content should come into play.

The only answer to "how much is enough?" will be - predictably - "however much it takes to beat out xyz competitor for the top slot in the SERP's" (and that's not just content - the top slot usually requires link-building efforts and, for longevity's sake, it helps to have a noteworthy product or service).

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It's my opinion that they should only keep their website fresh if it is necessary. Adding useless crap every now and then just to have something "new" is more a detriment than anything else.

Ofcourse, it also depends on the type of site and what is expected by its users. Do users of this site come back often, with purpose? Do they expect new content? Or do they just keep coming back for the same old thing?

Maybe a better idea would be to improve on what already exists if SEO is the only reason for adding new content.

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Freshness is indeed a factor. But it doesn't have to mean that your static content needs to be updated regularly. You can rather add more content to your static content regularly. Blogs do not update much when it comes to already existing pages. But they keep adding more content to your blog.

Even if you can't update those static pages, you may try to edit those pages. It shall change the timestamp for the files, and Google shall see it as fresh content.

So I suggest you ask your clients to setup a corporate blog, and keep it updated a couple of times each month.

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Not true: "Even if you can't update those static pages, you may try to edit those pages. It shall change the timestamp for the files, and Google shall see it as fresh content." — Google will not consider the old blog post as fresh if you only change the time stamp –  Baumr May 14 '13 at 13:25
    
Actually Google does –  Robin Thomas May 14 '13 at 13:48
    
You'll need a source for that –  Baumr May 14 '13 at 14:21

I noticed website with new contents is pushed up in Google results in some way for a while than moved down again. It's like if Google wants people to see immediately there is new content in your site which make sense in order for Google to return latest news results from online newspapers.

But I don't think it benefits PageRank itself.

Virtuosi Media answered that blogs sites ranks better (as PageRank I suppose), but I believe is more because they have many pages linking to the home page rather because the freshness of their pages.

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