2

Are there SEO reasons to not keep a page static for several years even though it doesn't really need to be changed content wise? That is, is it good for SEO to do some small changes on the page here and there to show the search engine it's still updated? Will that affect the SEO of the page?

The reasons for me asking this is that a friend of mine told me that doing minor updates, adding more info, removing a section or inserting another one can improve SEO. (Of course improving the page will affect SEO, but here we're talking about the effect of the actual changes.)

3

I am sorry, but your friend is generally wrong on his point that small changes is good for search performance. This is, simply, not how search works.

Here are a few points to consider.

Templated Content v.s. Content

Google and other search engines can easily compare more than one page to determine what HTML elements are templated, where and how these elements are used such as header, sidebar, and footer, and the relative value of the templated content.

In this, Google and other search engines evaluate actual content separate from templated content. Why? Because search engine matches to, for example, sidebar elements poisoned the SERPs with poor results. It is that simple. This was a real problem at one point. For search performance, short of a few additional HTML elements, only the content is considered for search.

How content is evaluated.

There are several semantic analysis techniques used to analyze the content one of which is topical analysis. I have talked about this elsewhere, however, for completeness, I will go over it briefly again.

Google does not make keyword matches. Why? Because many terms can be used in more than one context. For example, the term dog can be an animal, the poor performance of something, a description of a persons attractiveness, etc. Humans can put terms into context instinctively, however, computers cannot. Semantic analysis is used to understand the written word. Semantics has existed since at least the 1970s and follows how people think and communicate. It is intended to accurately understand meaning.

One of the techniques is topical analysis. Each term, where it applies, is assigned a topic category or sub-category from an ontology. Where an ambiguous term is used, disambiguation techniques solve this problem. Each logical content block is evaluated in order and evaluated for importance. The entire content, each header, paragraph, sentence, and term is given a score that very accurately defines the topic from the largest possible meaning to the smallest possible meaning using an hierarchy. For example, a carburetor is a car part. A car part would be a sub-category of a car. While this is an overly simplistic example, this example illustrates how a term fits within a hierarchy that allows for narrow or broader meaning.

This and other semantic analysis scores of the various content blocks is put into graphs typically referred to as a matrix. Content blocks in relationship with each other are overlapped using matrices of matrices. For example, this means that a header topically supports the paragraph and paragraphs that immediately follow.

These scores are what is stored within the index. Google is both clear and ambiguous as to what semantic methods are used within its index. However, Google is up front with much of what is used.

Search queries are also evaluated using semantics.

Google is clear that semantic analysis is used to evaluate a search query. Shorter queries are ambiguous while longer queries that allow for more semantic understanding are far clearer and yield far better results. The same analysis is applied to the search query as is to the content. This allows for unambiguous search queries to be closely matched to semantic scoring within the index. Where people think of keyword matches, it is the topical analysis that primarily drives search query matches.

So what does a few simple changes to content do?

Almost nothing. Any minor change to content would not or would barely move the needle as far as semantic scoring is concerned. It is that simple. Google has the opportunity to compare the changes found between the cached and fetched page. Minor changes where the content does not make a significant change in the scoring are not seen as fresh. Again, simple. In cases where minor changes are made, the index is updated, however, the net gain otherwise is little to nothing. For content to be consider fresh, the content must change. Not the formatting, not minor changes, but measurable change.

1

It depends on your changes that what you changed?

if you change Sidebar widgets, post images or something like... then there will be no change or very negligible.

But if you change meta desc. post title, URL, Content (add new, remove, rewrite), ALt text in images then it will be changed in SEO

IMprove or not depends on your changes...

-1

The top SEO specialists and SEO websites have confirmed that updating your page routinely does impact your SEO.

When you search Google for keywords, you'll find that most of the results are generally newer. And older results usually aren't listed unless your search is very obscure.

This is because Google knows that newer articles are often more valuable than older ones. The content is usually fresher, more updated and current than an old source. Newer articles are simply just more relevant than older ones.

Google sees the last time you modified the page.

If you delete a sentence and add a new one just to update the page, Google is still just an AI algorithm. And so it doesn't really know if the new sentence is useful or if you deleted an old sentence that is no longer relevant. So in a way, updating your webpages just to appease Google is in some ways gaming the system. It's making an old article appear new to Googlebot when it's not. But just about every SEO expert advises doing this and from all that I've read, I haven't seen anyone get hit with any penalties for updating their pages.

It's advised to keep your pages regularly updated.

  • 1
    Do you have any references you can share that support this? I don't think that Google cares about last edited date at all. I think Google notices when users stop using a resource because it is out of date. I don't think making useless edits will improve SEO at all. You should spend your time updating content that needs a revision or writing new content instead. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 24 '18 at 12:52
  • @StephenOstermiller - From a quick search, here a few links that you and others might find interesting. searchenginewatch.com/2016/09/26/… searchenginejournal.com/… moz.com/blog/google-fresh-factor-new seositecheckup.com/articles/… – Michael d Feb 24 '18 at 13:12
  • Also, for websites that have their timestamp listed on Google's search results, when you update your website with a minor change the timestamp should reflect a new date. And a new date as opposed to an older one of say 2009 should naturally have a higher click through rate. And CTR has been tested as a likely ranking signal. – Michael d Feb 24 '18 at 13:25
  • 1
    The first two articles both cite the same Google blog post, which talks about freshness for specific types of searches which would need it (e.g. recent events). The third article cites no sources at all, it's just a typical "Google loves X" article without any common sense or authoritative basis for the claim. – Tim Fountain Feb 24 '18 at 13:26
  • 1
    For further reading, here is a case where the poster claims that people would prefer to read recent posts. Him removing old timestamps substantially increased his traffic: shoutmeloud.com/… Google will publish your last modified date in its results when it finds that information useful. And a more recent last modified date should increase CTR and time on site, in general. – Michael d Feb 24 '18 at 13:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.