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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Doc Sawyer's Avatar
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    I used to think that SE’s liked to see updates / changes in a website from one spider visit to the next. Presumably, sites that were not updated would receive lower PR’s and drop in the index to allow the "fresh" information to move upward.

    But today, I came across an article that briefly mentioned SE’s don’t like to see too much change from one spider visit to the next. The writer even suggested letting your site "age" for as long as three months.

    Three months seems extreme.

    Can anyone share some advice as to what is acceptable change and what is "too much" for SE optimization?

    Thank You

    Doc

  2. #2
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I say no way Jose

    Why wouldn't search engines want the most updated content on the websites they index?

    New information = happy surfer who finds what they want

    Old info = surfer who leaves for better search engine.

  3. #3
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    What Doc says used to be true of AltaVista, but is no longer true of any search engine. Freshness is an increasingly important part of most search engines ranking algorithims.

    And for the benefit of any one lurking, my proof is this: at SES London, the guy from Fast/AlltheWeb said so, while the reps from Google, AV and Inktomi all nodded their heads.

    Achieving 'freshness' in Google genuinely requires you keep your content updated - for the others I've mentioned paid inclusion seems to be enough.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Doc Sawyer's Avatar
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    Yes, that is what I always have heard. Frequent relevant updates. The more the better. How long would anyone go to CNN if thier material was three months old?

    That article said that some SE's interpret radical change from one spider to the next as something suspicios.

    (I wish I could quote directly but I deleted as more hogwash email... but then I got to wondering)

    I did a major rewrite of my front page in February. A whole new look. I left key words and most links the same but I changed everything else. Next Google update (had to wait until April 6th - remember?), my Google hits dropped off 85% :eek:

    The next google re-index brought the numbers up but still are half of what they were before the big shake up.

    That is why I started to wonder about this "Aging" idea.

    Doc


    Edited by Mrs. Farnsworth to change there to their

    [ 06-09-2002: Message edited by: Doc Sawyer ]

  5. #5
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I've heard that altavista ranks websites according to how long they've been included in the altavista directory, changes or no changes.

  6. #6
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    I read this to what Doc said and I experienced the same. Therefore I do very little changes on my index.html. My explanation of that is: if your site is indexed and you changed it radically then the spider has to reindex it and that lets your site perhaps drop. Another possible thought is that if you let age your site in the meantime other sites changed or went offline and if the spider visits them they are eleminated and you climb in rankings with the age of your site.
    Jonny

  7. #7
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    Jonny, you won't climb in rankings according to the age of your site. What you may see is that you won't drop too much if you don't make too many changes, but this is because you haven't done anything to negatively affect your ranking. Also, as time goes by, you inevitably pick up more inbound links, which does positively affect your rank.

    However, is is wrong to suggest that there is a positive boost because your site is aged. Heyder's first comment is spot on, SEs want fresh results. Because of the increased competition between the few remaining players, this is an increasingly important part of algos - and that goes for AltaVista as well.

    Indeed, AV is making very definite attempts to get its database back to where it was pre-Google. They spider and include new sites within 24 hours of their inclusion into the Yahoo What's New page. If you get into Yahoo today, you will be in AV - quite literally - tomorrow. Some people have suggested this is because AltaVista are pitching very hard to pick up the Yahoo web pages contract and are trying to prove to Yahoo what they are capable of. I would be one of them - though I think it is between Google and Inktomi in truth.

  8. #8
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    Doc, I used to see the "aging effect" you are talking about, but it has been many months since I saw it last. I agree with MarkyMark and Heyder--now Google, at least, likes updated sites, from what I have seen. (My new pages usually come into the rankings very strongly and then drop as the months go by...except those that are [fortunately] in categories where the competition seems to shoot itself in the foot somehow [causing mine to stay the same or even rise].)

    But what can be done, when there is no need to change what's on a page, section, or even an entire site because the information stays the same?

    Or when there is no desire to change the look and feel of the site, or the text on the page?

    Or when there are simply too many pages to update? (read: I'm not going through thousands of pages for an update!!! It'd take forever!)

    [ 06-09-2002: Message edited by: Leader ]

  9. #9
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    One thing you can do is work on developing external link popularity for some key pages. Then there would be some "hand-me-down" page rank benefits elsewhere in your site, which would help your pages stay competitive in the rankings. Content pages are good for this, even if they seldom add much to your sales totals otherwise.

  10. #10
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    I don't know...our oldest site, our biggest content site, is raarely updated and has ranked in the top 10 on most engines for the last 2 1/2 years. I'm afraid to update it for fear that that might make its ranking plummet!

  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    That is a thought, Elisabeth--I've got some external links going to the front page of my gardening c*ntent site, but not to the specific pages on it.

  12. #12
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    Just curious .. how would a search engine know if a page has been updated recently? Like, would it rely on a meta tag. Or would it simply compare its current index with its past index. Seems to me that it would be awfully easy to trick a search engine into thinking that its seeing an updated page even though it may not be.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Doc Sawyer's Avatar
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    It is my assuption that SE's would compare new spider info with what is already in the index. I understand meta's are usually ignored unless your tags are too general and not representative of the page- then you are in trouble!

    So, How could you fool with that? I don't understand how a person could fool a spider to see a change when there wasn't one... any change is a change.

    Doc

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>any change is a change<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    True .. but is 'any change' a legitimate update resulting in fresher content? absolutely not.

    So I'm wondering how a SE would compare a current scan to a previous scan. Would it be that if it noticed any difference (no matter how small), it would assume fresh content? Or would it have to be a dramatic change?

    Assuming the former scenario, it would be easy to trick it into thinking that the page has fresher content then before. Just add a sentence or some other meaningless characters and voila .. fresher content!

    The latter scenario would be tougher to confuse.

    Not that I'm looking to be tricking any search engines [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] . I just thought that if its so simple to abuse this policy, then maybe SE's would not be employing it.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Doc Sawyer's Avatar
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    Now we are back to the original question!

    That is pretty much what I am asking!

    Major Changes, Minor Changes: do they have any effect on SEO?

    Doc

  16. #16
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    From this recent discussion, my educated guess would be that search engines do not distinguish between pages that have been changed and pages that have not.

    It would be nice if they would list the fresher pages first but it seems to me that this is simply not implementable.

    It would be too easy to cheat by making meaningless changes.

    Then again, your guess is as good as mine [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  17. #17
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    Search engines do give a boost due to freshness. It is one part of their algo - not the be all and end all.

    In terms of making a small change (like changing 'I' to 'we' and back again every couple of days) this isn't going to do you any good. It certainly won't boost your rank. You need to remember that you can only have your site viewed as fresh by the search engines if they visit it regularly. After all, if a spider is only coming by once a month; then it is never gonna be seen as fresh.

    How do you achieve that - well, for Google, I am not entirely sure. I do know that if you have lots of inbound links, then Googlebot will visit more often than if you have only a few. With other search engines, if you use paid inclusion, you get the spiders coming around every couple of days and changes in content are reflected quickly in the SERPs.

    I believe that the boost caused by freshness is a small one and is dependent on the number of visits the spider pays to your site per month combined with noticeable changes to content. It also seems that the freshness of any page of your site is dependent on the term searched for. IE: you may have made a change that makes your page more relevant to, for instance, a search for 'world cup odds' and you will get a freshness boost for that term, but not for a search on 'world cup results'.

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