What’s More Important in Search? Freshness or Quality?

Google's Matt Cutts Talks Freshness vs. Quality

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It’s been a while since we looked at one of the Google Q&A webmaster videos that Matt Cutts does, but I found this recent one particularly interesting, considering the emphasis that has been put on freshness in search engines lately.

How important is freshness to you as a search engine user? Share your thoughts here.

The user question in this particular video says:

Some people are under the impression that blogs are good for SEO only if they’re updated frequently. How much does frequency play into PageRank for blogs & other dynamic sites? Isn’t the content more important than the simple # of posts per day/week?

Matt’s response is that it is indeed much more important to have quality content, but frequency can be a nice thing to have for the users.

Essentially, if you post more frequently, people have more of a reason to keep coming back. That can be good for page views. However, as Matt says…

"Whenever you’re thinking about search engines, it’s much, much, much more important to think about the quality of your content. For example, on my blog, I don’t post every day. Sometimes I don’t post every week. But I try to make sure that each post has something useful about it…"

Matt implies that you’ll be better off in terms of search, if you wait until you can deliver some value to a post, rather than just crank stuff out that isn’t that much different than stuff that’s already out there. This strategy is likely to attract a lot more links, he says.

Quality is always priority one, but I don’t think that’s to say that freshness doesn’t count. For example, as we looked at recently,

Google’s time filters (which are more readily available to searchers, courtesy of the recent redesign of the SERPs), not to mention the realtime results Google often displays, can add some benefit to providing fresh content. Brian Klais, General Manager and VP of Product Mangagement at Covario had a very interesting post at Search Engine Land looking at how the time filter may even help smaller brands get some visibility.

Of course Google has gone out of its way with Caffeine to increase the speed at which it indexes content so it can provide the freshest results possible.

Do you take freshness into account for your search engine marketing strategy? Comment here.

What’s More Important in Search? Freshness or Quality?
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  • http://www.diybacklinks.com Jim@diybacklinks

    If you look over the web today just about everyone is saying you need to update often and every day to stay ranked. I am glad to see good content still goes a long way.

  • http://www.buildersinteriors.com Ceramic Tile Woodinville

    Content in a timely manner, how’s that for getting more traffic to your site?

  • Guest

    Matt Cutts wouldn’t recognize a T-bone… Freshness will be Google’s death. We need a search engine for archived information, not a news engine. Look at those search results, full of Twitter spam and other “fresh” irrelevant crap. Google better quit messing around or Facebook, Bing, Apple or Yahoo are going to make them a thing of the past. I see a lot of news from Yahoo now like never before, FB has surpassed Google in Visitors, Apple is getting really annoyed and have their own adsense already and Twitter is just a “here is our search engine” away from making Google history. Again, those search results couldn’t be more crappy because they can’t. People are switching to Yahoo and Bing lately is all I hear. Combine that with their stock tanking and the ton of legal trouble they are in…

  • Tom

    Guys, I can’t believe you pay any attention to what that guys says. The guy is a Bob, full of it himself. He has been proven wrong over and over again. The guy should be a comedian. Sometimes he doesn’t even have a clue what the spam team/programmers are doing. Enough of this MC crap, please! Look at that smirk on his face. He is owning all of you all the time. Do the exact opposite he says and you’ll do just fine.

  • http://www.wsinetpower.com WSInetpower

    CONTENT IS KING always,

    always remember its QUALITY that matters not QUANTITY.

  • http://tbeyond.com Patrick

    We definitely need both freshness and content. But where are you going to keep getting content? Wouldnt it become more like twitter wheere 75% of tweets are noises?
    So I would side with Matt, content is definitely more important than frequency.

  • http://www.musiclearningworkshop.com Music Learning Workshop

    Information whether quality or timely has it’s place. Look at it from the users prospective. Quality content is what you search for when your trying to find a specific bit of information. Timely or fresh is when you’re looking for up-to-date information such as how-to’s on some new software upgrade.

    I get so bored with blogs that are nothing more than a gibberish about some subject that is common knowledge. I attempt to provide food for thought or direct know-how on accomplishing something. That content should be able to last for years.

    I recently did a search on google for a specific type of template (several variations of keywords). I got all this content about why I should be using the report and some examples that weren’t even appropriate, but nothing on an actual template. All I wanted was a simple outline and I couldn’t find a link to one. Google’s delivery serves up all this great content, but it needs to be tempered with what the user really wants. That being information to solve an issue or to be able to purchase something.

  • http://www.mypalaceresorts.com Palace Resorts Mexico Caribbean

    I have been wondering if the blogs that have little relevance to the content of the site and have daily ‘updates’ receive more page rank for their site than we do with our occasional posting.

    It makes no sense to me that jibberish with a few key words on the page is considered credible… and there are certainly sites out there using this tactic.

    Thanks for this info…

  • Guest

    What was the name of the blog Matt mentioned in the video? Sounded like Techtor.

  • http://www.trizac.co.ke Isaac Thuku

    I believe freshness count because if you want readers to keep coming there has to be something new to read else they get bored

  • http://www.b-seenontop.com/ Donna

    Matt seems to be saying “unique” content is what counts. That makes sense to me. There are so many blogs out there who can possibly read them all – nobody. That’s why we all have our few favorites. I like Seth Godin’s blog for example. He recently posted something uniquely relevant to this discussion. Seth said you can earn the right to be heard… [if you are] “an impacted constituent, not a gadfly, [or] represent a tribe of people with similar concerns”.

    Seth blogs daily. He does not know me nor do I have anything to gain by plugging his site. Just sharing what I value.

  • http://houserefinancecenter.com Laura Morton

    Quality wins hands down. If you post everyday and the piece isn’t relevant, the reader gets to the second sentence or first paragraph and tunes out. Moves on to another site.
    If you have a quality article, and the reader gets some value they will forward the piece to a friend or they might return a few more time.

  • http://www.suzannesnorwex.com/ suzanne

    I enjoyed reading this. I always thought that I shouldn’t blog if I didn’t have time to write every day, but this has me rethinking. Thanks.

  • http://www.site-booster.com/blog/ Online Marketing Blog

    For the travel websites whose purpose is to attract incoming tourists to an expensive destination, high frequency of more content brings less results than high ranking for high-quality content that attracts, absorbs and wins some new clients. So, the model Matt has got for his blog suits some travel websites too.

  • http://www.jorgezarate.com Jorge

    I’ve done both, post often and post not so often but quality content. Posting often got me good traffic, but it gets hardly any visits now. I have 2-3 blog posts which took me a good 3-4 days of research and 2-3 hours of writing, but it still gets me traffic and sales in a market I’m not to active anymore… in fact, it’s possibly the only reason why I still have that site up…

  • http://ultimatemarketingstrategies.net Peter

    I think a good example are the many auto blogs that either have feed mashups, or use a blogging network for their content.

    These sites might have dozens of posts a day, but typically the article quality is low as the articles are duplicates and/or poorly spun.

  • http://carpetcleaningwebsites.net/ Joe from Websites for Carpet Cleaners

    As a blog reader I find Quality to be much more important. For example Problogger typically posts several times per day. I will usually check it out a few times per week, but simply skim the info because it usually has some fluff. On the other hand the 4hourworkweek blog only posts maybe once or twice per week, but every post is carefully crafted and very informative. I read every single one and read them carefully.

  • http://www.peterjcrowley.com/ Peter J. Crowley

    Quality? How does a search bot determine if your content is quality? enjoy pjc

    • http://www.peterjcrowley.com/ Peter J. Crowley

      I post mostly Fine Art photography. Is the search bot an art critic? enjoy pjc

    • http://www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz/ Statistician

      I think quality would relate to whether the content of your site is relevant to the searches that bring it up. For example, if you sell

  • http://www.shapirit.biz ????? ??????

    As posted here by P. Crowley, a Bot program cannot determine the quality of a content as a human can, what the progran can do is to guess that the content is good because a lot of people participate in that blog or cite that content or link to it, if I take for instance what suzanne posted here I can say that she didn’t contribute anything to answer the question asked but she give it relevance because she participate.

    What is needed to be asked is quality or fresheness to whom… to the visitor or to google, sometimes the visitor is interested on both fresheness AND quality, sometimes just for fresheness and sometimes just for quality, google looks for fresheness AND popularity or relevance within the content, who cares of comment number 259, I read only the last 5 but google can see those 254 as a very popular webpage and give it high rank.

    There is an old SEO statement that says “write content for the people, not for google”, I think that a webpage should be balanced between both, fresheness AND quality but what can you do if you have an article perfectly written wich is 2 years old?- make one small change in it like a comma or a word and republish to change its published date and you will gain quality content and fresheness.

  • Lbs.

    How about G. sticks to matching content to query instead of letting a bot play God. When machines can think like humans, then fine but not now. Look at the irrelevant mess G. is right now. A search engine is supposed to retrieve exact content as specified in the query, not synonyms, local searches or whatever a piece of code want to interpret as related. G. is being ran by a bunch of morons now my lovely big G. fanboys. Their stock is tanking by the way.

  • http://www.theexpertseocompany.com Andrew

    I have always thought quality is better than quantity. I’m glad to see that Matt says the same thing basically.

  • http://www.blogtraffictips.net umesh

    Yes quality and quantity (regular update ) both are important but how search engine can find quality? I have seen poor quality articles on tops than good quality for many keywords.

  • http://www.creatiefpartners.com Nikhil

    How can a search engine say that it is valuable content. Lets say I write purely fresh content out of the world. Now, its 100% unique. However, it doesn’t provide value to the reader. How will search engine come to know tht it is not valuable? I vl have keywords sprinkle in it to make it SEO Friendly.

    If the answer is no. Seach engines can’t. Then again, unique content is imprtant with frequent update in terms of Search engine. (Surely your reader wont come back!!)

    Thanks. Reply..

  • http://davelo.se Tomas Ohlum

    Good quality content as often as possible. Hasn’t it always been the way to attract more quality links and traffic?

  • http://www.corenetworkz.com Siju – Tech Writer

    It is better pick the latest available results for a user to get the most recent update. It is useful for content websites but what about business website ? If they don’t maintain a blog their static website has the same content from day one to till now, may be some small changes may happen. So quality of the content shouldn’t be avoided.

  • http://www.guarantorloansonline.co.uk Guarantor Loans

    Good to see Matt talking sense and that content is still king….

  • http://www.worldtravelingartist.com/about Alexander

    I see many quality pages unfortunately dissapear deep down in cyberspace due to lack of human evaluation and leaving it all up to algorithms.

  • http://www.acceleratorforsuccess.com Bill Covert

    Before posting an article it is best to think in terms of value – how much value can you deliver to the reader. What is the end result the reader can use after investing time to read your piece. Always make the effort to over-deliver. That is the Accelerator for Success using the Dream Bar Cafe principles way.

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au buybooksonline

    I’ve always thought quality outranks quantity. Even though I update our blog almost daily I have always considered good content rules.

  • http://www.searchengineacademywest.com Muriel Archibald

    In an ideal world we would all have fresh, well written, useful content, but realistically it’s not always possible.

    As an SEO/SEM insructor I teach that fresh content is good, but not just for the sake of putting something up on your site so the search engines have something new to find. The content has to be useful, relevant, educational, entertaining… of true value to your audience whoever that may be.

    If you can write great content frequently then do it. But be honest with yourself. If it’s not great content spend some more time on it and make it great, even if that delays getting it on the site.

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