Google and other search engines have made it clear over the past few years that how often you update your site and your social media can be just as important as the content of your posts. Google in particular has been putting increased weight on social media and blogs and they want to see regular activity. I want to explain these changes and offer a few tips on how to keep your site and social media fresh.
To understand how infrequent posts affect your search rankings, it’s important to understand how Google and other search engines work. Search engines send “spiders” or “bots” around the web to “crawl” sites’ contents and follow their links, noting any changes along the way. These spiders come around on a schedule. If your site gets crawled, say, once a week and they notice a consistent change ever time, they’ll return more often. Hot, frequently updated sites like big news sites will get crawled multiple times per hour. If they don’t see changes after repeat visits, your site appears inactive and they’ll come around less often. If you aspire to show up in searches for the latest trends, but haven’t been updating or blogging consistently, your rankings may lag behind by up to several weeks. This is part of why blogs are so important for SEO – blogs let you post a regular stream of content relevant to your topic and search terms. By the way, frequent updates are much easier if your website runs on a CMS (Content Management System) or includes blog software that lets you update site content yourself, without having to call your web developer.
Over the past few years, Google has started giving bonuses to newer, more frequently updated content and sites. They dubbed this part of the pagerank score the “freshness factor.” A page’s freshness score is highest when first posted, but then degrades over time. Google also awards extra freshness to sites with a higher proportion of new or changed pages over a period of time – so the more new content you generate, the better the impact will be on the site as a whole.
Google and other search engines also index social media, like Twitter and Facebook. Google especially has made it clear that they are giving more weight to social media signals, both from your company’s own social media and which other accounts are interacting with you and linking to your site. So, it’s in your best interest to keep your blog and social media up to date.
All of this begs the question – how often should you post new content? It’s hard to prescribe an exact formula and depends in which medium you’re posting – on your site, on your blog, or on your social media profiles. For blogs and website updates, generally once a month can be adequate for a small business, unless you’re expected to always keep up with the bleeding edge news. If you’re using an SEO service, you should consult with them in case they recommend more frequent updates. Facebook pages should probably be updated every week or two at least, just to maintain a presence in your customers’ minds. More than one post per day can be considered overbearing by some – give your posts time to simmer. Twitter, meanwhile, thrives on frequent activity, so most experts recommend posting every day or two at least. The advantage of Twitter is you don’t always have to post your own content – you can either post an interesting blog piece you found elsewhere or just reply to and interact with other twitter accounts in your field. There’s no hard and fast formula, but there’s no need to overstress yourself, feeling that you have to post every day.
To wrap up, you should make it a point to post updates to both your site and social media on a regular basis, on a schedule that makes sense for your needs. If you’re running an SEO campaign, you should consult with your provider for their advice on how to best schedule and target your updates. If you’d like additional help with your website, SEO, or social media, please drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help.
Matt Richardson is a consultant and copywriter for Parker Web in Charlotte, NC. Parker Web offers website management services for small and mid-sized clients. You can follow Matt at @MT_Richardson. Learn more about Parker Web at http://www.parkerweb.com.