Does Fresh Content Truly Rank Higher? Latest SEO Guide

Freshness = ranking or not?

While researching into how to get high traffic to your blog or website, you must have come across verdicts that fresh content rank higher. By fresh content, I meant posts that were recently published.

Although, some authors such as Adrian were of the opinion that it’s not as much “new” content in relation to time and when it has actually been created or published, but new in meaning and what the data behind it reflects.

For this post, let's view it as the most recently released content. In this context, it aligns with up-to-date data. Hence, we're not far apart from what Adrian and others might think of.

Is it true that posts published most recently tend to rank higher? Is it true that older posts may end up below the search results? Must you continually be publishing content to maintain the top spot on Google?

The answer is a mixture of feelings and findings. Some SEO experts had concluded that newer posts tend to make it to page 1 faster than old ones. Some retain the position that it doesn’t matter.

In fact, Google has once said a capital NO to that. And if this is an official position, do I still have anything different to add?

Well, YES.

And when I’m done, you will see beyond your nose and understand the brain behind John Muller's affirmative NO.

Why Crawling and Reranking, if Fresh Content is not Favored?

Let’s get something straight. Everyone in the SEO house understands how Google treats new posts. You can be on page 1 today and a month right on page 3.

Look at the picture below.

Just for the phrase “best features of iPhone X”, google found “341,000,000” results (as the time the first time of publishing this post). And I bet if you search the same terms now on Google, you will be amazed by the number of results that pops up.

Even though, there was a mixture of irrelevant content in the results (including the search intent), how was it possible for Google to rank one above the other?

Yes, the answer is still the same – relevance, quality, etc.

We also know that one was written before the other. Googlebot regularly crawls the net to see if there are fresh posts for these keywords. Then, sort things to see where they fit. 

This process is a long task for Google but very fast with what's achievable with advanced technologies.

If you drop a new post that others had written the same or similar too, Google crawls yours too and see where you merit.

Below is what goes on behind the scene.
  1. You publish your post
  2. Google crawls it to understand what it's all about
  3. By the next queries, google shows it to a few people to see if they will like it better
  4. If they like it more than the posts published (and ranked) before yours, you're retained in number 1 for more people to enjoy. If otherwise you’re buried in the lower place in the search results.

Note the item 3 above, they show you to a few people to "test run" your quality.

How do you define that? Is fresh content not favored here? Definitely YES!

Google brings newer posts to pages 1 or number 1 positions by a quick ranking to know if you deserve the spot. If users say Yes, Google will never say No.

With this, Google favors fresh content with its quick test-run of content quality.

Search Engines Favor Certain Content By Freshness

Needless to say, if you search for news queries on Google, you’re going to be presented with a page full of new content.

Google understands “intent” and makes that a priority over “keywords”. If the user types in “terrorist attacks”. Google is aware the person may be interested in the latest news update on attacks. Hence, he may be shown the most recent content on the internet rather than the September 11 attacks on the US's World Trade Center.

If the keyword is specific, such as a history of America, a post that is 20 years old may be number 1 in the search ranking, of course. This is because an old post about histories might have been, several times, updated by the authors.

Users Force Google To Rank Fresh Content

Search engines dance to the tune of their users. After all, without these people using them, no business. Hence, search engines don’t care about what they think rather what their users want.

This is how users force Google to rank fresh content.

If someone searches the net, he’s presented with 10 results on page one. Out of these, if it cuts his attention, he’s likely going to click on the one with the most recent publication date (freshness).

Look at the results below.

From these search results, we can easily conclude that the post ranked number 1 was better than the one followed. In fact, I check to compare. Most readers were clicked-baited because of number the “38” instead of “7”. This doesn't mean the number 2 was better. In fact, if you check the same terms now, it could be the number 1.

However, what I think brought the post up to the top is because of the freshness – most recent date. Note the date of publication?

In fact, that doesn’t truly mean the website content was that new. Business-Know-How usually republishes their posts to the newest date – probably for this very purpose. I know this because I'm one of their subscribers and I do receive newsletters each time a post I'd already read is republished. I recently shared how republishing posts to the newest can help to rank

Most users believe the newest date means content will be more relevant and timely to their questions. This was well covered in the linked post above.

If more users are convinced to click and read your posts because of the dates showing their freshness, you will win the clicks undoubtedly. This, of course, results in higher rankings. More on this in, How Google Truly Ranks Posts Up to No. 1 Position.

In fact, if I see any dip in my most trusted and high-ranked posts, what I do to help is to republish it to the most recent dates. With this, new readers will think it’s new while old ones will think it should have been updated.

Why Did Google Say Fresheness Doesn't Affect Ranking?

With all said, you're still confused. Why would Google says freshness doesn't count in the content ranking with all this evidence?

I've observed with time, that John Muller does give answers to people's questions on Twitter in much more direct ways to avoid asking for more clarification. If he says NO, he won't add more explanation. Why?

In his way of explaining further, answering a related question,  

As a user, recognizing that old content is just being relabeled as new completely kills any authority that I thought the author/site had. Good content is not lazy content. SEO hacks don't make a site great. Give your content and users the respect they deserve.

Since answers from this guy are the official points of view, we all should respect his pronouncements, warnings, and clarifications. However, if it's working and no official punishment for doing that, it may not matter in the end.

John is actually not encouraging laziness, deceit, and click-baiting. And of course, these acts show no respect for the users. But, come to think of it, if users say that's what they want to see, give it to them since it's not causing any harm. After all, we're writing for them not Google.

How To Keep Posting Fresh Content

I will give you links to a few posts that will hold you by the hand and show you how you will unendingly be getting fresh content ideas.

But in summary, fresh content is needed if your blog will remain ranked for the target keywords.

If users’ experience is the key to ranking, they love coming to your blog when something new is released. This is no different from the frequency of your content. If you keep updating your existing posts and republish that to the latest dates, you’d done better too.

Below are the resources meant to help on your journey.
  1. How Google Truly Ranks Posts Up to No. 1 Position
  2. Does Republishing Old Posts Help Them To Rank?
  3. Blog Like a Pro: Make Readers Stay to the End and Rank Page 1 
  4. Force Google to Crawl and Rank Your Posts With This Trick 
  5. 8 Best Techniques to Write Unique and Evergreen Posts


If you want a direct answer to if the freshness of your posts will help you rank higher, the answer is YES. There may be divided opinions on this. Yet, if you want to serve people better - you give it to them in the exact way they want it.

If they prefer reading posts with the most recent dates, don't leave your work to the old dates. If Google notices you have been offline in creating new content to help your readers, it's a signal you're no more updated in your niche.

Talking of the niche, if you write on topics that are permanent, historical, or static, you may not worry yourself about republishing to a newer date or writing something new. But if you deal with niches that need unending content publication and regular updates, freshness is the only power you have here.

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