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Editing Content After it is Published

Are their Ranking Benefits to Publishing First and Editing Later?



4:23 pm on Apr 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i am continuously adding a good number of unique articles to a website, and there appear to be two obvious approaches that could be taken:
  1. publish the articles with only a brief review and perform thorough edits later
  2. thouroughly edit the articles before publishing

one advantage of publishing immediately is that i increase the time for search engines to crawl the new pages... by the time the aricles are fully indexed, i should have a chance to edit them thoroughly (grammar, spelling, fact-checking).

a little background... most of the website's traffic comes directly from search engines, and most visitors get the information they need and exit the site. only a few visitors will arrive a page from within the site, so the 'damage' done by a less-than-perfect article will be minimal. in other words, traffic to the less-than-perfect article will be low until it is indexed by a SE.

is there a potential added benefit of editing after-the-fact: the search engines see that the site is not stale. does this help rankings, or is it negligible?

thanks for any help with this.


11:10 pm on Apr 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

does anybody have any insight about editing content AFTER it is published?


11:13 pm on Apr 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would lean towards putting it on right the first time, rather than putting something in complete on and then editing it later on -- no hard stats to back that up, but I don't really see the point of putting something on that you're going to need to review shortly afterwards.


11:18 pm on Apr 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Unless you like revisiting old pieces of work of course.


1:00 am on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For new sites due to the sandbox we publish sketches drafts text etc asap and then go back and edit and design the site.

On existing sites It is claimed changed content gets a boost so we do the same.

In all cases we add something like "coming soon" or " This article is still to be edited: check back soon"


2:47 am on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Personally, I would never put up a page that had errors on it as it would make the site appear very unprofessional.


6:50 am on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't really see the point of putting something on that you're going to need to review shortly afterwards.

consider the standard lifecycle of a webpage with an article:

1) decide on article topic
2) write article
3) edit article
4) publish article to website
5) article gets crawled by search engine
6) article is indexed
7) traffic begins to arrive

of course this is a very simplistic overview, and yes, a small amount of traffic will come immediately after publishing... but by moving the third step to just before step six, one can significantly speed up the process and get pages online faster.

if you are only working on an article or two, this type of thing is not very significant, but what if you are working on volumes of unique content? having the articles up a month earlier than you otherwise would is a substantial financial decision.

secondly, if the search engines "like" to see content changes because it makes the site look more alive, then there is an additional benefit to waiting to make edits.

btw, the articles are written by professional copywriters, so the potential errors are not egregious.

no offence whatsoever, but brett's seminal post "Successful site in 12 months in Google Alone" has at least a couple errors, and no one complains. of course WW is a forum and it is held to a different standard, but minor errors are not the end of the world, especially when they are only temporary.


9:43 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As the publisher of an online magazine for a few years, I have found that making small tweaks to pages often gets bots to visit your site more frequently. So, making little changes could be good, however:

If you're writing articles, remember that people are entitled to accurate information, so it's a disservice to not check your facts first. Believe me, folks will let you know when you are wrong about something. And birdstuff is right about grammarical errors looking bad. You want your visitors to have a good impression and come back again.

You might consider limiting your changes to adding/removing/changing links on the page (say, to other pages on your site), swapping out images, or just cleaning up the HTML code a little. The tiniest changes can signal a new crawl by the objectbot of your desire.


2:29 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Like all things in life there are advantages and disadvantages which need to be weighed.
Advantage: The page can be found faster, and the bots will come by more often. (Question: how often do the bots come now? If they already come everyday, it might not be as important to encourage them to come more frequently; whereas if they only come once a month it becomes more important)
Disadvantage: If you put content up before editing, and with errors, it can appear unprofessional and discourage return visits and (possibly) links. (I note you have said though that the content is written by professional copywriters, and thus is less likely to have errors than an amateur writer).

It comes down to how importantly you weigh these two issues, and the purpose of the site. In a school/educational site, or one advertising the professional writing ability of the author, I would expect a lack of errors to be the more important consideration. On the other hand for a newspaper website with a 'breaking news' section it would be more important to make the news available now, then edit it later (in time for publishing the hardcopy).

Only you can make the decision for your site. Personally, I do the bulk of the editing before posting any pages of my site, but will occasionally go back and tweak the pages if I notice somethin I missed, or to encourage the bots to revisit.


2:48 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If I were an SE, I'd look at

1. first date indexed
2. how often updated
3. most recent update

I'd keep track of multiple dates in #2 to establish a frequency.


3:00 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Deffinetely make changes. Keep the page fresh, editing after publishing is fine.

Crawlers like fresh content, that is how some pages like information on the Tsunami for example can appear in organic results very quickly after the fact.

When my site's traffic drops, I edit the content and then it climbs again.


5:57 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The sooner you have your stuff up, the sooner it gets crawled, and the older the page will be in the future.

Changes are good, lets google know the site is active, makes a big difference.

80% of something is better than nothing.


6:15 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Editing and Updating articles is a good thing.

The first time publishing it is like an experiment to test if your initial thoughts and objectives were right. Dependent on the results, a publisher can edit their content to improve or correct things. Getting it right the first time is not as easy as everyone would like to thing.

I edit frequently, even if it is a small thing. A sentence or paragraph can always be rewritten or improved.

I also agree that the SEs like editing or renewed content. It shows recency, the site is active, the site cares about the content and that newly relevant material, pertinent to the present has been added.


6:23 am on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree, this is a good idea.

I often publish articles in first draft, hoping there are no major errors in it, and then I review and edit them - this way I got fresh tag more often. Google likes changing, growing content.


1:21 pm on Apr 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Studies have shown that web page edits cluster sharply at the beginning of a page's life, then decline precipitously. (Google "Sic Transit Gloria Telae" for an academic paper by Ziv Bar-Yossef for some discussion.) Google surely knows and leverages this pattern when deciding spidering frequency. If you can break the pattern by editing over a longer period of time, you might get Google to revisit more often.


2:49 am on Apr 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Editing web-visible pages is generally not desirable. A page receiving edits tends to indicate one or all of the following:

* The page is poorly written
* Someone is trying to optimise the page
* The original information on the page was wrong
* The original information was unimportant
* The page is unimportant

None of the above are beneficial for your ranking.


3:10 am on Apr 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You forgot:

* author is concerned about accuracy
* new information is periodically added to the page to keep it current
* links on page may be added/changed/removed to keep them current
* page is more likely to be of use to people seeking timely information
* etc.

The fact that Google displays the last-updated date for the benefit of its users suggests to me that updates are more likely to be a good thing than a bad thing.


4:20 am on Apr 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yes, I'd agree, I think panicbutton has completely missed what editing is and means. Plus google likes new pages, it's win win all around.

You edit something when you see something that was wrong, could be improved, could be updated, etc.

Editing is a natural part of publishing, on online resources have the ability to update themselves when required, ie, they can be edited after going live, unlike newspapers, magazines, or books. I think panic is thinking of print here.


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