Want to Win at Google? Just Change the Date
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Not that long ago Google decided that fresh content would be highly valuable to its users because it provided the most up-to-date information. In theory the freshness update would keep great, older content in the search engines but this doesn’t seem to be the case on many different occasions.
Due to the changes, many great pieces of content that were thorough and evergreen were bumped for thin pieces simply based on the fact that they were more recent. You can see this quite often when searching for major keywords in your industry.
Glen Allsop of ViperChill took the time to explain what was going on in his massive post entitled: The Great Google Sh*tstorm of Our Time. In this work, Glen shares the issues that have popped up due to the changes and highlights some of the worst contenders.
There are many situations where fresh content makes sense such as news articles or if the most recent iteration of the topic has more relevance and debt than the previous top ranked but this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
Note: By no way am I, or AffiliatePrograms, do not mean to disrespect the hard work of those appearing in the following search results – it is merely an example to show recent results.
Take a look at how things have changed when you search for “Affiliate Marketing Strategies”:
So, we have:
- Ads (obviously)
- Silo Page
- 2 x Articles from 2012
- 4 x Articles from 2013
- Facebook Group
What’s particularly interesting is that a topic such as affiliate marketing strategies is the type that calls for evergreen content. There have been some changes to the strategies over the years but most still rely on the same platforms that have been there from the start. Unless you intend to learn about the topic as it stands in 2013 – it makes perfect sense for Google to call up extensive articles, books, videos, and resources because they give a complete picture to the topic.
But maybe we’re missing something here …
When you begin to dig around and look into how the results have changed you’ll start to see quite a few anomalies.
A few things I’ve personally seen in the results include:
- A very short (e.g. under 45 second) YouTube video outranking major resources
- A one page document with nothing more than a link and keywords in top results
- A slideshow with only a few slides, very little information, and lots of links
- Facebook groups or Google+ shares overtaking reputable listings
We already know that Google likes to give YouTube videos a little extra special treatment (they do own it, after all) but you have to wonder what “delivering the best search results” really means when they’re serving you these thin promo videos in place of complete tutorials, reviews, or interviews.
Additionally, document sharing websites, Facebook, and Google+ seem to be heavily favored. Sometimes the results are spectacular while others make little to no sense especially if it’s just a listing that has been highly optimized for keywords and very low on content.
Another part of the equation as to why search results have been skewed is the fact that individuals and companies are conducting massive link building campaigns – but not always on “white hat” side. The use of XRumer and other tools and resources which create massive link profiles seems to be an effective way for people to game the search engines. Go ahead and plug in some of the odd results in a backlink tool and you’ll most likely find a ton of low-quality links.
Like they say … if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Making a few tweaks to your website (or a drastic change mentioned below) will shake up the results and put you closer to the top position thanks to the value placed on freshness.
It really comes down to this:
- Either remove the dates from your posts or change the publication date to something newer
- Remove the dates from the comments or leave them be if there aren’t any present
- Build up a ton of links to the page (doesn’t seem to matter where from)
- Create a video, slideshow, and document that’s highly optimized for the keyword
- Share the updated piece on Google+ and maybe even start a new FB fan page for it
Try doing it for a few of your older, popular articles that aren’t ranking as well, anymore.
Jump to the page, change the publication date, remove other indicators of the time, and get it back out there. You could see a jump in listings in a very timely manner.
You could even go as far as creating an entirely new site to capitalize on the freshness change; pool together your best posts, rework them a little, and republish them optimized more than the last.
Build up a ton of links using Fiverr or software services, follow some of the other strategies from above, and you should be good to go.
I know it’s frustrating to see some of the results outranking all your hard work especially if it’s very thin content but that seems to be the nature of the beast, at this time. Yes, it may revert but if it currently means you’re losing out on thousands of dollars than you can afford to change when the time comes around, right?
A big thanks for Glen on bringing a lot of this information to light, too.