The original thread with this title caused quite a stir so I thought I would address a couple of questions and comments I’ve seen around the Internet pertaining to this subject.
Google Penalizes Stale Content
One post I read that referenced my blog entry stated that Google penalizes “stale” content.
I think most people misunderstand this. From what I’ve read in official Google patents and other documents, Google does like fresh content and they do verify the age of content site-wide, but I have never read anything from Google saying it recommend changing existing content on a regular basis. Fresh content can be added to a site in a number of ways including articles, press releases, blog entries and more. Google does not state that you continually change your web page copy for no particular reason. In fact, in the past I’ve seen from experience where changing the copy can temporarily decrease rankings in some cases.
Just because Google considers the age of content on a site when calculating rankings doesn’t mean it penalizes you if your copy remains the same. In fact, the patent actually mentions a preference for stale content in several circumstances.
If Google penalizes stale content, why are my sites in the top 5 year after year when I make no changes to the web page copy? And why would this client of mine have their copy rebound back to the top 5 with no changes? That doesn’t fall into line with a search engine that penalizes stale content.
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Test New Copy
In her blog, Jennifer Laycock comments that I didn’t mention testing copy. She’s right. In the original post about this one client of mine, I didn’t.
Should you test new copy? Absolutely, IF you know how to test the copy and you have a way to actually track the results. Just throwing new copy up to see what happens is not recommended because you’ll never truly know whether it brought about improvements or not.
There’s not one, single answer that fits every occasion. You have to evaluate your particular standing when rankings fall to see what’s going on because there are so many elements involved. I still stand by my original opinion, however. I’ve never been an algorithm chaser. If everything else is good (sales, conversions, etc.) and the only reason you’re thinking of changing your copy is because rankings have dipped, I’d leave it be.