After taking a month off, Google's Matt Cutts is back online, and has put out a new Webmaster Help video. This one talks about news sites, and how to approach developing stories.
The user-submitted question being addressed is:
Do you have any specific tips for news sites, which have unique concerns compared with commercial sites? For example, if I have a developing news story, should I keep updating the same page, or create a new one when the content changes?
Cutts prefers the same page route, keeping the information on a single page updated.
"If it were me, I would tend to have one page because that's where all the PageRank can accumulate," he says. "People don't get confused. Sometimes you even see people doing multiple stories over several days, and they don't link those stories together, so from one story you can get to the other story, so you sort of lose a few people through the cracks that way."
"Marissa Mayer [former Googler/current Yahoo CEO], in the past, has talked about having living topics, or topic pages, that are really like exhaustive entries about a specific area or type of breaking news," he says. "You can see something like Wikipedia as another example, where they have one page that just gets richer and more developed. At some point, a news story is over, and you want to move on to creating a new page, but given a certain story, often, I think it can be helpful to add updates, and add more information on the same URL."
He goes on to recommend reading Google News documentation and research more about what works for that. He references the recent news_keywords meta tag Google announced (without mentioning it by name), and suggests using authorship.
The part about PageRank is interesting, and certainly worth considering, but unfortunately, he doesn't get into how Google (or Google News) treats old articles that are updated (in terms of the freshness element), or the best ways to get these old articles in front of their audiences on their second, third, or fourth (etc.) rounds. Of course, there's always social media, but in terms of search, it's not that always that simple.