When you gingerly scrutinize those aging bags of cold cuts in your fridge you often rely on your nose to tell you if they’re any good. Sniffing reveals if the food is okay to eat.

Google is like that. Their bots constantly travel the internet sniffing sites and their content to see how fresh they are. Then, they apply their patented algorithms to produce a new ranking for the site. As late as last fall Google updated these techniques. Freshness is important. Research suggests that there are specific things that Google examines in terms of freshness and what you can do to protect and improve your site’s SER.

When Google first indexes a site it logs the date. This is its inception date and it becomes the baseline. Freshness is measured against it. Google assigns a score at inception and it declines over time. Google wants to see content and pages change as a site ages. To maintain or improve rank the site must update pages, content, relevance and usefulness.

When Google revisits a page, whenever that might be, it wants to see changes. It will assign an improved value for updated content and reduce value for lack of change. Let’s look at some of the elements that Google measures.

How Much

Google has an amazing memory. It remembers all your content and it looks to see what’s improved. If you only change one sentence that’s a modification and it has value-- but more is better. Google knows that it only collects data-- it really doesn’t know what you’ve said, so it likes to see that a lot of content has been changed. It assumes the content is an improvement.

How Often

How frequently you change content is important. If you update pages weekly, it shows Google that the site is alive, active and interested in providing useful content to its readers. If pages only change annually Google perceives that the site doesn’t have much interest in their audience and lowers its value.

New Pages

New content is not just revising existing pages. Google believes that an active website constantly provides new value to its users. It wants to find new pages. This is a reasonable conclusion. Any site that “cares” about itself and its users must maintain a relationship; the site must continue to offer new, relevant content. That is how new pages are considered.

Significant Changes

Google wants to see meaningful content changes. Elements such as advertising, time/date, navigation, etc. is not considered to have value. These are not seen as important and are often ignored entirely.

Link Growth Rate

This is not about links themselves but rather about the rate of growth or decline in new links. In other words Google, at some point, has set a benchmark for the number of new links to a site over a fixed period. If, during a later period, the number of new links goes up or down so will the value. Google sees the number of new links as a sign of continued interest and relevance.

Fresh Sites

While this seems a little obscure, Google rates links from sites with a high freshness score themselves better than for links from “stale” ones.

Google’s vision for the internet is that sites and their content always remain fresh, accurate and useful to users. To accomplish that, they will throw out stale, moldy or smelly old sites! So, consider using a Freshness or “Use-By” Date in the management of all your sites.