New content – stale until proven otherwise?

Fresher content is better
Fresh content always wins

Once upon a time, adding some fresh content to your site or updating some old posts with new information was all you needed to enjoy a little bit of a boost in the search rankings. Eighteen months ago, the content onslaught strategy was working brilliantly and I was starting to think about champagne and retirement.

That was, of course, before Panda updates targeted content farms and other sources of high-volume, low-quality web pages. It used to be enough to be unique, well-spelled, and grammatically sound, but Google seems to want a whole lot more these days. Even pages filled up with unique pictures and videos don’t seem to have the impact they used to have.

In fact, it looks like new content could even be a liability.

On hiatus, I wasn’t too surprised to see my search traffic taper off and even start to decline a little bit. I figured a few new posts would help re-ignite the engine but something odd happened instead. I went from #7 to #8 for a valuable search term after adding something new. Weird. So I added some more posts and dropped down to #10. Now I’ve re-opened the /shared/ folder and saw myself down to #11 this morning.

The sites ahead of me haven’t added a thing to their domains in a year or more, but they seem to be very busy working on “off-site” optimization in the form of spinning articles and submitting them to every directory on the face of the web. Hell, a few of them have been banned from the affiliate program for spamming because the content and articles they’re using have been stolen from others. Google, however, continues to give them all of the traffic.

Here’s my theory: Google doesn’t give a crap about your new content any more, at least not until it makes a splash and starts getting a whole bunch of backlinks. If you’re not attracting backlinks – and quickly – new content could be as much of a liability as it was once a bonus.

New links make stale content fresh again

And unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer places to find good links. Pligg sites were never great, but now most of them have been deindexed and heavily penalized. Article directories have also been devalued, but this just means volume is even more important. Cheap distribution to hundreds of directories seems to be relatively effective still, since that is the primary tactic that is defeating me right now.

In fact, I don’t think I’d mind if the platitudes about social engagement and high quality content were true, because the winners in the hosting affiliate vertical seem to be the biggest scrapers and spinners around and every time Google updates I’m back to trying to figure out a way to beat them without playing that game.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with most of what you say here.

    Using links to judge quality of a site works in theory, but is too easy to game by article spinning etc, and so any proper “quality content” needs to get unnatural links before it starts getting natural ones from real people who actually enjoy that content.

    However, I do think it makes sense to keep writing good content, as hopefully those natural links will come after the initial push is made and people actually see your site.

    I personally think the biggest problem of the links system is that the system was designed for finding information, not for finding products or services. It came about before the internet was overly commercial.

    Ultimately, you don’t judge how good, say, a plumber is by how many good quality articles they have written on their website. Forcing companies to write lots of content in order to push their sites up the listings seems a waste of everyone’s time.

    That said, the local listings seems a way forward. If searches for services were ordered by locality to you, rather than by SEO factors, then that seems a much fairer system for businesses.

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  1. Too fresh for your niche

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