I heard that a big part of SEO is keeping your site up to date. The more often and recently the site/page was updated, the more likely your site was to get pushed to the top of search results.

That makes sense. After all, nobody wants to visit a site with out of date information and possibly dead links. But what about sites that serve dynamic content (such as stuff from a database) but the content of the .php or .aspx files never or rarely change?

My theory is that actually it will count because web crawlers don't read the code, they read the served content, but as I'm not a seasoned web developer or an SEO specialist I'm here to see if someone could confirm what the deal is, and if there are implications to be aware of, what are they?

2 Answers 2


...it will count because web crawlers don't read the code, they read the served content

Yes, exactly. Web crawlers see the same as what normal visitors see; the served content.

The only caveat is content that is requested after the page has initially loaded, using JavaScript (AJAX). Search engines might have trouble seeing this content.

  • Do web crawlers look at the file's last modified date at all, or do they just compare the content to a previous version?
    – Adam
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:03
  • 1
    You mean the Last-Modified HTTP response header. They probably "look" at it, but whether they make any use of it in determining when the page was last modified is another matter. Most servers, when serving dynamic conetnt, return a Last-Modified timestamp of when the page was served. ie. the current time! And some don't return a Last-Modified header at all. Google probably won't trust these headers anyway (they ignore most things that can be "faked" by the user) and will examine the content for changes.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:37

Just like the fact that search engines don't care if a page is static or dynamic, or what server-side language is used, or what operating system is used, or what web server is used, they don't care if the code on the server has been (seemingly) updated or not. What matters is the content that is served by that code.

The quality of the content is what search engines care about since that is what users are looking for. The delivery mechanism is irrelevant from a ranking perspective.

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