Creating fresh content is often brought up as a must-do if you want to gain visibility and climb in search engine rankings. Read any article on SEO and it’s just about certain that creating relevant, fresh, quality content consistently will be on the to-do list.
But what exactly is fresh content? How does Google define it? And what does that mean for you when you’re trying to get more traffic and bring in more leads to your optometry practice?
Read on for our content freshness tips for optometrists.
Local ranking factors
Let’s start with local ranking factors. These are highly important to your optometry practice as you will be aiming to attract people from your local area.
When looking to rank a website, Google looks at five main factors:
If Google is looking for freshness, you’d think recency would be a prime indicator of it and therefore the most important ranking factor. However, it’s more complicated than that. Google uses a mix of ranking factors to determine where it will rank you and it does depend on more than just being the last one to publish on a particular subject. We’ll come onto that next, but recency is definitely a consideration for Google, so “Publish great, relevant content consistently” is still good advice.
Google combines recency with relevancy, and this is where it’s not quite as straightforward as how often you post. It is possible for content that is years old to still top the search engines if it really is still the best information on the subject for the searcher’s query.
Here’s an example: Moz has an article titled “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” which was written in 2015. You’d think that such an old article would no longer appear in the search results, but actually, it has been viewed over three million times and it’s still presented in the search results as relevant information by Google because it’s such a high-quality, informative article on the subject.
This is definitely something to bear in mind when you’re planning your content.
In addition, Google looks at how far you are away from the person searching for an optometrist. The closer your practice is to them, the higher they will rank you. It’s about convenience for the searcher.
Obviously, you can’t change where you are located, but you can make the most of your content and your SEO to ensure you’re found in local searches.
Again, this one isn’t something you can do a great deal about. Google looks to show the most prominent local business as one of its ranking factors. If you’re part of a well-known, large chain of optometrists, it’s likely that your branch may come up in the results above other practices because of this.
However, if you’re not, don’t despair, because you can still raise your visibility and be found in local searches by creating the best, most relevant, well-keyworded content you possibly can.
For this one, you’re going to need to claim your Google Business Profile (GBP), if you haven’t already.
In fact, definitely do that anyway, because your GBP can have a big impact on where you show up in local search. If you fill in every part of your GBP and ensure it’s a great, welcoming page for your customers, with local keywords and plenty of information, there is a possibility you’ll show up in the Local Pack on Google Maps. The Local Pack appears on the top right-hand side at the top of the search results and potential customers can see your opening hours, phone number, and more, right there. It’s excellent for visibility.
Back to availability, the reason that you need your GBP is that you can fill in your opening hours. If you do that, then when potential clients search for “optometrist open now”, you’ll show up in the results if you are open when they search.
Taking each one of these five factors into account can help you tailor your content and plan your content to keep your site higher in the search engine rankings than your competitors.
What is “fresh content”?
Given what we’ve said above, you might be worrying that we’re setting you up for a lifetime of posting all day, every day, just to keep up. Don’t worry. You can relax. While we are encouraging you to look at fresh content to increase your visibility in the search results, the definition of “fresh content” and where it’s applicable means you don’t have to be constantly scrambling to come up with new ideas.
So, what exactly is “fresh content”? Well, for the purposes of SEO, “fresh” means recently posted content, rewritten content, or updated content. When you look at that and think about the Moz example we gave you above, you can see that your content doesn’t have to be constantly posted or even completely new to get attention. It has to be highly relevant, quality content that is the closest and best answer to the query searched.
That’s much more doable. And that should be your guideline when planning and posting content.
Thoroughly research your keywords and phrases, and get to know your audience well enough to know what they’re likely to ask. Then you should be able to create the type and quality of content that will both draw them into your sales funnel and get attention from Google.
When you publish a piece of content, there are four dates that matter:
- Published: the date that you upload your content to your site and clicked “Publish.”
- Indexed: The date when Googlebot finds and crawls your page for the first time and adds it to Google.
- Last crawl: The last time your content was crawled.
- Modified: The last time you made a change to that page.
But what does Google look at when measuring content freshness?
- Page inception date: The date your content was indexed.
- The amount that your updated page has changed: The more you change your content, the fresher it is considered.
- The number of changes to the main content on your page: If you have changed the body of the article considerably, this will also make your content look fresher. It’s far more effective than adjusting the date and time tags of your original post.
- The rate of change on the page: The more often you change your content, the more likely it is to be considered fresh.
- The rate of new content/page creation: The more you create brand new content, the higher the chance of getting a better freshness score.
- The freshness of any backlinks: If you have higher quality backlinks that are also considered fresh, these links can also help to improve your content’s freshness.
Over and over again, Google is using the same words to describe what they want: Relevant, High Quality, Fresh. They are literally telling you how to get your site to rank better.
Add in some good local keywords, answer your client’s questions, and keep showing your expertise in your content, and your optometry practice will become easier to find online.
Great content isn’t just a one-trick pony. It can indeed help you climb the search engines if you optimize it for SEO and provide what Google and your audience want. It can also build your reputation, build trust, engage, entertain, and persuade. Along with an excellent customer experience, it’s what turns strangers that have never heard of you into fans that come back again and can’t wait to tell people about you.
How does content freshness affect your local rankings?
As we said above, relevancy and recency are some of Google’s ranking factors so content freshness is definitely a factor in how high your local ranking is.
Clearly, the more you post quality content that’s relevant to your audience and to what is being searched for, the more chance you have of your content being shown to local searchers. You’ll also likely find that your overall ranking increases.
Google is constantly tweaking and refining its algorithm so that it can show the very best, most relevant results to its searchers. Give it what it wants, and your ranking should improve.
In addition, according to Google, they use a rating metric called Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) when returning the best results they can find on search.
In Google’s opinion, not every piece of content needs to be completely fresh to be relevant and to stand a chance of being in the top results on search. That, of course, explains why older content still often appears high in the search results. In their rating guidelines from 2020, they note that there are four items that always need the freshest content. They are queries involving: breaking news, repeating events, such as the Superbowl, current information, and product queries, such as reviews.
What that means for you is that if you generally write content such as “the best way to clean your glasses,” “how to protect your glasses,” or “how to insert contact lenses”, then yes, it needs to be good quality and well-optimized, but you don’t have to worry as much about the freshness of your content. “How to clean your glasses” isn’t something that’s changed a great deal over the years. It’s not breaking news, and your content is likely to be perfectly relevant and helpful if someone searches for that subject.
However, if you also post information about technological advances in eye care and the latest gadgets, techniques, and other up-to-the-minute news, then you will want to get those stories out there as quickly as you can.
Keep updating and providing fresh posts on your Google Business Profile and any business directories you are listed on, such as Yelp, Angi, and Nextdoor. Adding new, relevant content here can add to your online business reputation and help your potential customers find you and get the information they need. It can also help you to build your presence on local search.
It might take some work to create quality content, but quality content works hard for you in so many ways.
How to improve your freshness score
Google’s rating guidelines pretty much help you see what you need to do to improve your freshness score.
1) Publish new content regularly
Of course, new content is going to help you improve your freshness score, so if you don’t already have one, create a content plan and work out what to post over the next three months. You can then keep an eye on what content is going over well and what content isn’t working for your audience. When you create your next three-month plan, you’ll have a much better idea of what will work.
Consistent posting is much easier if you already have a plan, rather than trying to think about what to post each time.
2) Refresh older content regularly
Keep an eye on your Google Analytics and look at how your popular content is doing. Prioritize any content that’s receiving high traffic as you’ll benefit more from making changes to that than you will by changing lower-performing content.
If your content is already high in the search results, it’s best to leave it alone until it starts tailing off. You can then go in and update it to freshen it up.
From what we’ve said above, you can see that smaller updates will have a lesser effect on the search results than if you update the main body of the article. You will begin to learn how much to do this over time.
Once you’re done with the changes, change the publication date after your updates are made. Then, finally, submit it to Google again through their search console so that Googlebot will crawl your updated content sooner.
Regular posting of new content and updating your existing popular content can indeed get you a better ranking in the search engines.
Demo Surefire Local’s business intelligence marketing software
It can be a lot of work, however. Why not make life easier for yourself and request a demo of our business intelligence marketing software?
We offer analytics to identify your high-performing content and you can manage, publish, edit, and update your content right from your dashboard.
In addition, you can also manage your email marketing, ask for and respond to reviews, update over 80 business directories, manage and update your Google Business Profile, and so much more.
With our all-in-one marketing platform, you can do it all while you stay in control.
Book a demo with our experienced team and see how we can help you market your optometry practice.