Every SEO specialist knows that content freshness is extremely important for the success of any SEO project. Search engines favor pages with lots of new content published every day and tend to rank higher websites containing fresh text and pages. Everyone knows that, but is it really true? And what about all the old and obsolete content that is still available on websites? Is it totally discarded by Google?
I will present you some data researched while analyzing traffic sources and landing pages for one of our projects – www.morusek.pl. This is a classifieds website with at least a hundred ads published every day. Such a website should be much affected by all the freshness-recognition algorithms because of its high content turnover and plenty of obsolete data (old ads are being kept on the website).
Landing page lifecycle
The first interesting phenomenon that can be observed for time-sensitive pages (ads and offers) is what I called “landing page lifecycle”. Once submitted, every ad first gets a considerable traffic boost. Every new page quickly reaches good rankings in Google and starts driving organic traffic. However, after 1-2 weeks it begins loosing the visits. Eventually, only a small portion of old landing pages remain (10-15% of traffic).
You can see the example below (it shows the sum of search engine traffic landed on 333 pages created at the end of May 2011):
What is interesting, this phenomenon is very similar, no matter which set of landing pages and dates you select. In each case the traffic first increases and then decreases to the level of 10-15% of its maximum value.
This shows that indeed, the fresh content is promoted by Google. New pages submitted most recently are ranked well within SERPs and bring much traffic. Once ads get stale, there’s a decrease in the traffic they bring.
Content age vs. organic traffic
On the other hand, out of any portion of landing pages you choose, some manage to bring the traffic even after several months. Of course, the amounts are not significant – it’s only one tenth of the initial traffic, but if the website has thousands of such obsolete pages, the traffic may sum up to huge values.
Below, you will see the average monthly number of organic visits for every ad details page with respect to their age. The data is grouped for 2000 ads:
And again, we can see, that the majority of traffic is brought by most recent content. For ads aged 70+ days the traffic is much lower. However, on the other hand, landing pages up to 2 months of age bring only 1/3 of the whole traffic. The remaining – 2/3 is driven by pages that are older than 2 months. What is more, traffic is brought even by pages that were created 12 or even more months ago.
Similar conclusions can be drawn, if you take a look at the chart below. It shows the percentage of ads that bring any traffic with regards to their age.
Out of most recent pages 40%-50% bring at least one visit. So for every two landing pages that are created, one brings some organic traffic. The older the landing pages, the less of them bring any traffic from search engines. But again, we can see that even for ads that were submitted more than a year ago, almost 20% are still ranked well on SERPs and drive some visits to the website.
The conclusion is that indeed, the fresh content is important for SEO. Google promotes new pages and lets them gain more traffic. However, we should not forget about the old content, which still, regardless of its age, still can bring significant traffic to the website.
Bluerank is a Polish search engine marketing agency providing SEO and PPC services, including mobile SEO services, monetizing search, usability of search, research and analytical projects as well as comprehensive SEM strategies for the companies from all over the world.