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The Effect of Changing a Site Often

     
1:25 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I was just wondering is changing content too often bad or good? Good or bad not from users point of view but from search point of view. There was a perception that changing content is good but why? What is the philosophy behind any such perception.

Thanks,
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7:11 am on Feb 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If a url depends significantly on on-page factors for its ranking on a given search, then changing that content can even undermine those rankings. It also can make backlinks irrelevant to the current content. Why give Google a moving target to try to scorre?

However, many pages rank predominantly because of backlinks and anchor text, and they can certainly be changed on a frequent basis. A "What's New" segment is important on many types of sites - and what is a news site without fresh news, for example? But then again, how much do sites like CNN care about ranking the Home Page for anything but their domain name?

There's just no one-size-fits-all rule. How much to vary a Home Page is definitely a site-specific decision. Doing it just to be "fresh" is not too wise, in my opinion.

I think there's a lot of mythology around keeping pages "fresh". Adding new content on a new url - that's something else. But I think some people are not very discriminating about the difference between changing content on existing urls and adding new urls.

Part of the concern with changing content comes from earlier days when crawling and indexing was slower. The idea was that if Google saw changed content whenever it spidered, then it would spider more often and somehow that would help rankings. But today, the crawl team has complex algos to determine frequency of spidering -- changing up a bit of text on the page, or intentionally setting the server to never show a 304 response won't change crawl frequency nearly as much as getting lots of backlinks does.

Summing up - change content on an existing url when it makes sense for your site, and don't think of it as a trick of some kind to improve rankings.

6:39 pm on Feb 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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thanks, that was very informative. I think it can be topic based too. There are some subject that need to keep it content updated while some can go along with the same content for years.
6:55 pm on Feb 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I thought it might be good to note here that there is a growing feeling that constant small tweaks to the on-page content might be causing ranking drops. Some obervations from our February 2008 Google SERP Changes [webmasterworld.com] thread:

Tedster:
Working with this idea a bit, I've noticed that it may NOT be a good idea to try to rank one page for all those "related searches" at the bottom of the SERP. I know of several attempts that were followed by a ranking drop a few days later.

Robert_Charlton:
I'm wondering whether Google is suddenly more negatively sensitive than it used to be about onpage changes that involve modifiers to targeted phrases... even if the change isn't actually changing the targeted phrase, but involves changing an adjective that's adjacent to it.

potentialgeeek:
One of the main ways Google scrutinizes "SEO sites" (sites optimizing for competitive targets) is how often they change, and what type of changes are made, I suspect. Are the changes natural? Many on-page adjustments aren't reasonably justified unless they're only for SEO.

I'm seeing sites that fiddle a lot are getting kicked.

2:33 am on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I recently added a few keywords to my site titles to see better Adsense targetting. Result: the site tanked into some sort of -950 penalty.

Google is getting better each and every day, they now have more penalties to share and look for victims to test their nonsense.

2:34 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We have a site where by we list of similar kind of different product and we also use to change the list of the products on weekly basis. and almost every page content gets change on weekly update when this takes place. what do you say changing the whole site may hit us to the negative site, although the everything is fine as per the product descriptions and all are concern. But still want to know whether we sud have the weekly updates or sud be once in a month. we can also scheduled this for monthy basis if weekly might hurt... need experts comments..
4:13 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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that is quite scary, we do a lot of changes to increase user experiences. We were doing a lot of changes recently to increase user stickiness ... Google is going too weirdo these days.
5:45 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I recently added a few keywords to my site titles to see better Adsense targetting. Result: the site tanked into some sort of -950 penalty

I disagree with SEOPTI.
I changed one of my page title for targetting keywords and also changed the content with a keyword targetted fresh article. Now though the TBPR is showing gray, my page is in #4 position for the KW-KW-KW phase i target. :)
AS
5:58 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I was just wondering is changing content too often bad or good?

There are a few patents from Google about how they deal with varying forms of content. There is content that is marked as static and then there is content marked as dynamic. Both are treated differently. Certain sites have a profile where content is continually updated, such as news sites, they will be indexed more frequently and under different guidelines.

Sites that are static, or pages that are static, usually fall in a more scheduled routine that is not as hectic as those sites that are flagged as "constantly changing". Let's take a blog for example, the home page is dynamic, usually. It will get tagged that way. The /archives/ are usually static and will be marked that way.

If you have specific pages that are static in nature, you typically don't make major changes to them. When you do make "major" changes, you may end up changing the meaning of the page. You have to take into consideration all the inbound links, where they are, what surrounds them and how that has affected your static pages to date. If you've been fiddling with the "meaning" of the page too much, you are creating an effect that trickles downstream quite a distance.

8:01 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you've been fiddling with the "meaning" of the page too much, you are creating an effect that trickles downstream quite a distance.

I agree. If you change your page from just "trophy" to grab things like "trophies" and "trofies" (for people who can't spell) you divide all the focus of the page between those different iterations. You are dividing up the amount of emphasis you put on any one of the word sets. Themeing really comes into play. If you are worried about ranking for different variations of a phrase, create additional pages of content / links for those different variations. Sure it's a pain, but it's a solid tactic.

8:17 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I change my pages when I feel it will help my customer or user experience, and don't have a thought with the search engines. If I continue to build my site for my customer or user experience it all falls into place.

Google, Yahoo, and MSN all build the search queries based on user experience, you should do the same for your website.

If changing the page content benifits your customers to update your page every day do it don't worry about what the search engines just be consistent with the updates and you will be fine.

8:52 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Good Point Tedster
There's just no one-size-fits-all rule. How much to vary a Home Page is definitely a site-specific decision. Doing it just to be "fresh" is not too wise, in my opinion.

Just changing a few things just to make a date stamp change does not mean it will be effective, nor changing a few words to find improvement zones in ranking..

In my eyes a good site that should rank well has unique content that has value, take for example a how-to-site hobby sites for example where the content is not necessarily changing but being added to... This is valuable data to the engine.

MSN had mentioned recently in their indexing improvements for live search about HTTP Compression and the use of Conditional GET 304 HTTP Response codes from your server. It has always been like this but as we progress with technology people are always trying to take a shortcut approach and I think as we see the algorithm improve so will the need for unique content. If you are not a CNN then you may not need to change your site as aggressively however it is still suggested to improve your site and not let it go dormant.

9:21 pm on Feb 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I lost control over that topic over a year ago. Our site is user driven and they got fully out of control. We kick stuff that is illegal and we TRY to monitor all the activities, but it is just not controllable any more. The result is, that the eCPM dropped badly on AdSense, ranking is changing every day and we do not have control over the link profile any more. On the other hand is now over 40% of the traffic coming from the users, and we have over 500k pageviews a day. I am not sure any more if Google is doing a good job, because I understand that most of the stuff happening on our pages must trigger some filters and our ranking is getting worse. Yet our traffic is rising from the stuff our users do. That means, our users know better, what is good for their surfers. Google is not knowing that better any more: I believe changing often seems to trigger some filters, indeed. If it is bad for your traffic: Not necessarily!
P!
12:48 am on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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On one site I've been playing around with titles and descriptions for the last few weeks and most pages seem to have disappeared :-)

Annoying but not particularly concerning, it's a bit like a mini sandbox...

1:33 am on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I would not say change content is good, adding content is good.
1:59 am on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If this were the case they why do amazon pages do so well? they're constantly changing.

If you're an ecommerce based site then change is always good for the customers.

2:32 am on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you're an ecommerce based site then change is always good for the customers.

There can be categorization of pages based on frequency of changes. So changing content is neither good or bad but can shift you from one set to other. Different set may react differently for your set of page ranking attributes.

I think there can be topics that can be marked dynamic or static too based on machine based study (that Google is good at) of a sample of pages on that topic.

2:08 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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--- I recently added a few keywords to my site titles to see better Adsense targetting. Result: the site tanked into some sort of -950 penalty ---

Have you tried reinforcing the keywords in new titles with IBLs with the thouse words from with in the site?

2:54 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I absolutely have to agree that change is good ... or not, depending on the industry you are in.

Our ecommerce solutions roll over content/products sometimes at the drop of a hat, while some of our other trades/service industry sites stay very much the same for long periods of time.

In both instances, these have found favour with Google.

I think the word for 2008 should be "natural", because, it appears, that Google just might be leaning in that direction.

Search is an ever evolving process. And it indeed gets better as the months/years go by.

Yesterday you searched for Irish Coffee and got porn.
Today you search for Irish Coffee and you get vacations in Florida, or wikipedia, or some other such non relevant rubbish. Not that much of a step up I know, but search is improved nonetheless from previous years.

I live for the day when I can search Irish Coffee, and actually get a good return at the top of the serps.

So far, Google can't provide those kinds of great results, so the work continues.

3:44 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I live for the day when I can search Irish Coffee, and actually get a good return at the top of the serps.

So far, Google can't provide those kinds of great results, so the work continues.

Are you sure you don't have a virus?
Not only Google but also Y! and MSN are currently matured and very good for similar searches.

4:49 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Interesting topic for me as we are finishing a complete overhaul of one of our websites. In fact, it is impossible for us to make small changes. Grand overhaul is the only option.

Does anyone have any idea about how to do it in a safe way? Of course URLs will stay the same or will be moved with 301 redirect to new URLs.

Perhaps proper information on PR and niche news sites could help or am I overestimating Google algo? ;)

5:44 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure you don't have a virus?

Interesting, I second that question. Zero off-topic results for me when searching in G for 'irish coffee'.

I'm seeing sites that fiddle a lot are getting kicked.

Yep. G thinks that making many small tweaks to perfect a site is bad.

6:55 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Irish coffee

I'm sure this was meant as a "theoretical". Let's avoid discussing specific search terms - that is the policy in our Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com].

Grand overhaul is the only option. Does anyone have any idea about how to do it in a safe way?

One grand overhaul is not the same as frequent changes. Especially because you mention keeping many urls the same, and using 301 redirects when needed, you should be able to pull this off. I would recommend having a Webmaster Tools account so you can send communication to Google if something does go wrong. Also, develop within a test environment and find all the bugs you can before going live. Check our Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com] for common problems to avoid. It's is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.

7:26 pm on Feb 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure this was meant as a "theoretical".

Probably. I repeat, all main SE's return very quality results with that keywords/phrase level.

7:44 pm on Feb 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It was actually a bit of a poke at the Wiki.

Providing listings for those who might be "in the actual business", or who can be a "direct validated authority" would be the best way to go.

Wiki's change in any direction the wind blows. There's a difference between "sounding" official and actually "being" official.

So I don't view the Wiki, any Wiki, as an authority, on any specific term.

 

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