Is Fresh Content Really The King?

Posted by on Aug 11, 2011 in SEO

Is Fresh Content Really The King?

Content is King – is what we’ve heard many times in the online business world.

If your goal is to receive free search engine traffic (and lots of it), you need to create lots of quality content.

But how does adding fresh content affect your traffic? What if you don’t add new content?

I have a smaller blog where I was observing the answers to these questions. Keep in mind that this is just one example and that in now way I can sayI have figured out Google’s algorithm πŸ˜‰ – but I hope this gives you some food for thought.

The blog in question had 69 posts for quite a long time – in fact the last posts before the Β»experimentΒ« were posted on 4/29/2010 as you can see below.

Time difference between posts

So for more than a year I did not post any new posts and my traffic was at around 400-600 daily visitors until June this year.

At around 16th of June traffic dropped by around 40%. So did the income – mostly Adsense.

Drop in traffic

So I decided it’s time to work on this blog again. I outsourced some quality articles and eventually published them on 23rd of July. (see the first image in this post.)

Here are the traffic results for July 2011:

Traffic increase

Interesting isn’t it?

You can see that until the 23rd of July most days had a traffic number that started with 2 or 3. (so 200+ and 300+ visitors).

After the 23rd of July most days had traffic numbers starting with 4 or 5 (so 400+ and 500+ visitors).

This trend now continues in August – although there’s slightly less traffic – but still much more than after June 16th when the traffic dropped.

Traffic in August

And all I did was to publish 3 articles – and when I look at traffic stats and search for keywords that brought the most traffic I don’t really see that these 3 new articles are bringing in the extra traffic.

It’s the whole site that started to rank better in general.

My first idea based on these results is that adding fresh content is quite an important ranking factor in search engines.

Your thoughts?

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    15 Comments

  1. Thanks for your post Tomaz. I for one make writing content a bigger chore than it needs to be.

    One of the challenges of launching a new site like my College Payment Guide is that I tend to ignore the other 2 sites I have.

    Your reminder about writing fresh content is appreciated and has caused me to look at some of the resources of content I already have — my mailbox. I was getting ready to delete what I thought was trash and it came to me that I had some valuable content ready to be rewritten.

    Thanks!

    Chaplain Paul

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Yeah, test and see what happens if you add fresh content to a website where you haven’t done that for a while. Let us know what happens…

    [Reply]

  2. Thank you, Tomaz. We actively create fresh content for our site but I’ve often wondered…what would happen if we quit for a few weeks or months? We don’t plan to do that but I am sure there will be a time when we will do less. It’s great to see a real test like yours. It’s also heartwarming to know that by adding a small amount of content can invigorate the whole site. Thanks a lot.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Mary,

    I also had two smaller sites where I didn’t add content for 2 years or so – but only exchanged a couple of links here and there – and the traffic was slowly growing.

    Even no content is ok with good links – but adding more and more content is even better.

    [Reply]

  3. My first SBI site has gone quiet for awhile, not needing much new content for a few more months. What I’m trying out in the meantime is updating my RSS feed with news articles I get in my Google Alerts.

    I write out a blog post with SBI’s Bloglet module with relevent links to any static pages I have (preferably monetizing pages!) and a link to the article I’m writing about. Then I add a photo if possible and it gets posted to all my Facebook and Twitter followers. It gets my reader base to my site, click through to relevent pages and also see the news article I’m highlighting that day.

    While it does not add NEW content, it does circulate links within my site within the blog-o-sphere, especially since my feed is on AllTop.

    I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and my stagnant traffic seems to be picking up little by little.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hey Amy,

    The Bloglets are cool because they tell Google someone is doing something behind the scenes.

    If you don’t have any more good keywords for your site, use bad ones too. πŸ˜‰ (typically with very low demand…)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    @Tomaz,
    Never thought about that before with the keywords. That’s the mind of a true SEO at work! I will always keep that at the forefront of my mind and open up my MKL in a separate window. Thanks for the idea!

    [Reply]

  4. It would be interesting to hear people’s observations about the rate of new content required to maintain or grow traffic. I have a weekly posting schedule that results in a steady but linear growth in traffic. Average growth is 25%-35% each month.

    The exception in my traffic stats is the 2 months where I was on a camping trip with my family and only posted about 3 articles. Traffic even dropped slightly but returned to the pre-holiday pattern as soon as I started posting regularly again.

    Sometimes I wonder if more frequent posts – 2-3 times a week or even daily – would make the traffic growth exponential. I’ve only recently gained the time in my non-virtual life to experiment with that.

    When I was starting my site I posted new pages once or twice a day for the first 3 months or so, but I couldn’t keep it up and my traffic was too low then to meaningfully measure growth.

    [Reply]

  5. Hey Tomaz,
    It’s funny, I’ve had the opposite affect with my two SBI sites. Due to priorities, some of my SBI sites have slipped down on my priority list.

    Results?

    My first site, which I basically haven’t touched in two years, has went from around 400 visitors a day, to now nearly 800-900 visitors per day!

    My other site went from around 300 visitors per day, to around 500-600 visitors per day.

    Now, let me admit that I firmly believe that if I would have continued to add fresh content, my amount of visitors would have only increased. I think the more quality content you have, the better.

    With that said, I do believe if you have a strong base of quality, timeless content, your site can remain static for months (even years) and your traffic can slowly grow from what you already have.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Ryan,

    That can happen too – but most likely you’ve gotten a few good organic links in the mean time.

    Or perhaps Google Panda has torched your competition. πŸ˜‰

    [Reply]

  6. Tomaz,

    You make a lot of good points and I agree with you about posting fresh content. However, it looks like a new update to Panda was released the same day (July 23) you published your new pages:
    http://searchengineland.com/official-google-panda-2-3-update-is-live-87230

    That makes it difficult to tell which factor resulted in your increased traffic.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for sharing – very interesting. In that case, I’ll have to repeat the experiment. πŸ˜‰

    [Reply]

  7. It will be interesting to see what happens with some further testing. I let my sites sit for a shameful 2 years without any new content and one had some increase while the other very little increase.

    I have been writing for them again since July but other have so much to do I have only gotten a few pages up on each site. I guess I’ll need to try to get more up on a regular basis.

    Thanks for getting me thinking.

    [Reply]

  8. I’m recently starting to rewrite a blog I last updated in 2007. Trying to add new updates 2 or 3 times per week. Will be interesting to see if I get regular growth patterns and how new vistors find the page.

    [Reply]

  9. If the search engines functioned as logical organisms the argument for fresh content would make sense. But unfortunately Bing and Google in particular are not logical. I publish fresh content every day and when Google recently announced that they were going to give weight to “fresh content” I thought that perhaps – just perhaps – more of my articles would rank on the first page. That wasn’t the case, instead many of those articles languish on buried deep in the results. Google places big brands at the top – yahoo news, Fox News, etc. Their panda algo hit health news sites and blogs – Google doesn’t like blogs (I know it seems oxymoronic because they own blogger) but that’s the way Panda has been treating them. Big brands matter to Google and Bing not small sites. My articles rank much higher in the less popular search engines which again suggests that Google and Bing are in bed with big brands and all of them are uncomfortable with start ups.

    [Reply]

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