Google’s Irregular Content Filter… a theory of Google’s expectations

Author: | Posted in Google 2 Comments

You may even hear people say that it’s good to keep fresh content on your site. But, how much of a difference does fresh content actually make?

I’d argue, bigger than you might think. But more importantly, posting fresh content on an irregular basis can damage your rankings more than if you published a site and…never touched it again. Let me explain.

From the Google Patent Application

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more types of history data includes information relating to a manner in which a content of the document changes over time; and wherein the generating a score includes: determining a frequency at which the content of the document changes over time, and scoring the document based, at least in part, on the frequency at which the content of the document changes over time.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the frequency at which the content of the document changes is based on at least one of an average time between the changes, a number of changes in a time period, and a comparison of a rate of change in a current time period with a rate of change in a previous time period.

8. The method of claim 6, wherein the generating a score further includes: determining an amount by which the content of the document changes over time, and scoring the document based, at least in part, on the frequency at which and the amount by which the content of the document changes over time.

Now, obviously I highlighted the parts pertinent to this discussion. As you can see in item 6, the frequency of change has at least some affect on the rankings. Item 7 shows us that the average time between changes is then compared to the sites history and how often it has been updated in the past. Item 8 not only mentions frequency again, but brings the amount a site was changed into the picture. Here’s why this is critical…

A professor once told me “If I mention something more than once, its probably important.” Well just in those few sections, G mentions frequency of change a couple of times.

Now with the advent of the blog, many sites have begun to get fresh content on their site daily if not even more frequently. But what if your site doesn’t have a blog? What if you only occasionally add new content or never add to your site? How does all this affect you? Let me address those two issues separately.

First, I will deal with those who put their site up, and leave it. You don’t add new content, you don’t blog, you don’t even think about your site unless something goes wrong. But, you also have decent rankings. If fresh content is so important why is this possible?

I would say that looking specifically at the phrase “a comparison of a rate of change… with a rate of change in a previous time period” suggests Google simply doesn’t expect fresh content from your site. If you haven’t ever added to your site or changed the content, then G has no reason to expect you will in the future. Your site will rank purely on the merit of the content that is on your site and not suffer at all because you haven’t let G down. They never once came to your site looking for new content only to be disappointed. Now, small changes such as grammar or punctuation probably don’t register as a large enough “amount” of change to count as fresh content in G’s eyes.

This brings us to the infrequent content changes. You might write an article whenever the mood strikes you or even crank out a couple of pages of new content in one day. Then again, you might 2 months without touching your site at all. In my mind, this is where you enter dangerous territory in terms of your rankings. Here’s why.

Google spiders your site and sees a significant amount of fresh content or changed content. This moves you out of the “no expectations” category. Google now expects to see fresh content on some sort of regular basis. Whether it’s every day or every week, Google expects to see some change. A week or two goes by and you add another article which Google gobbles up. This only serves to confirm Google’s expectations for your site. When you get lazy, go on vacation, or simply hit writers block, Google spiders your site, sees no changes, and compares that to your site history.

Bottom line, if you let the big G down, you are in store for a big letdown in G.

Now, now, now… I can hear you all already. “Proof” you are screaming, “We want proof!” Well, I’m working on it.

For the past two and a half months we have made no changes at all to our site other than add two new articles. Originally, the plan was for these articles to be released on a regular monthly basis. But so far, that hasn’t happened. While watching our sites SERP rankings lately, I began to notice a trend. The week after we post a new article, our SERPs jump up about 20 spots. The week after that we fall about 10 spots and two weeks after we posted our article we were back where we started.

Well, about two more weeks after that, we posted another new article. About 4 or 5 days later we saw another jump in the SERPs of about 20 spots (give or take). A week after, the previous falling pattern repeated itself.

Next week we will be publishing a third article on our site and if we see the same pattern in our SERPs that will be enough to convince me. Either way I will post the URL of the site (don’t want to influence the data) and a graph of our SERP ranks for all to see and decide for yourself what you think.

In the mean time, whatever you do, don’t let the big G down.

  1. Posted by Steve
  2. Posted by blamcast