Why Google Rewards Re-Publishing – Whiteboard Friday
Posted by randfish
It’s a fact of life: we get better at what we do with time. Do you use that to your advantage when it comes to your site’s content? Whether you’re riding the wave of a successful post or improving what you’ve done before, republishing is something that should be on your mind and your to-do list. And what’s more, Google will actually reward you for doing it!
In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the how and why of republishing, helping you set goals for yourself and your content.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about republishing and why Google rewards republishing so much. I think this is actually an underutilized tactic in SEO and in content creation. We have this idea that we make our content checklist, and we say, “All right, these are the topics I need to cover. These are the keywords I’m targeting, and this is the audience I’m trying to reach.”
Then once you create that piece of content, you kind of go, “All right, let’s see how it does.” Then, however it does, you kind of go, “Okay, let’s try and make the next piece better. We already took our shot at that piece of content.”
But that does not have to be how it is. Google actually rewards republishing. So do, by the way, audiences. If a piece of content is a hit or if you’re sure that a piece of content could be a hit, or that an audience would appreciate and enjoy it, I guarantee they’re going to appreciate and enjoy it if you update that piece of content or produce something better on that topic.
Same thing is true of social media. You can see a lot of the big content sites, particularly those that are very, very successful these days, your BuzzFeeds and that kind of thing, doing pieces of content over and over and over again. Basically, finding a formula, hitting it, and updating that content once they do it.
So, let me talk about why this happens. I’m using the example of guinea pig food, as opposed to guinea pigs for food. You could do either way.
Here I’ve registered the domain name — I haven’t actually — RandsFurryFriends.com. I’ve got my guinea pig food content that I put in my guinea pig section on their diet. That was produced in 2010. But five years later, I’m going, “Man, that content is getting old. It’s not performing the way I want it to.
I’m going to publish a new piece of content targeting those same keywords, on the blog this time of RandsFurryFriends.com, and that’s going to get October 15th or whenever that’s coming out.” This works really well because Google does a few things here.
Why It Works
- First off, they’re often testing. They’re verifying: When a piece of content comes out, did it do well? Google might place that piece of content on the first page of the results and then see how it performs with a small subset of searchers. That could be personalized, or that subset could be determined a bunch of different ways. But if it performs well, if it’s the case that we really liked how engagement looked on this SERP, a lot of people were clicking on that link, they weren’t clicking the Back button, they seemed to be happy with the results, then Google’s going to say, “Hey, maybe that page deserves to stay here long-term.” If you never republish, you don’t know whether the problem was that you didn’t earn the engagement and the user happiness and searcher happiness that Google needed in order to keep you on that front page. Maybe you had all the other ranking signals you would have needed, but you just didn’t get there with searcher engagement.
- Fresh publishing often provides its own rankings boost. You can see this generally speaking. So Russ Jones from Moz has done an analysis of SERPscape and seen that in queries where Google is showing dates on multiple results in the SERPs, there tends to be a high correlation with positive rankings performance and showing a recent date. So we know that Google really likes fresh content for certain kinds of search queries, and it’s almost certainly the case that even for those where it’s not providing a massive boost, it’s providing some value. Being the most recent on a topic is probably going to give you some value and benefit. So that’s another one that helps us here.
- When you publish multiple times, you’re building up that topical authority, that topical association that Google has with your site. So they might say, “Huh, Rand’s Furry Friends offers a lot of content, but he publishes quite often and quite in-depth about guinea pigs in particular, and so maybe we should start associating Rand’s Furry Friends with guinea pigs and show him for more and more guinea pig-types of search queries.” That can broaden the reach of any given particular piece of content to the keyword universe that you can potentially rank for, which again, awesome. Really nice to have that.
- Multiple pieces of content tend to yield multiple opportunities to earn links, earn amplification, earn those social shares, earn engagement, and earn ranking signals of all kinds. So when I produce this, I’ve got another shot at reaching my audience and getting all the signals, all the links, and all the stuff that I need to rank well if I didn’t do it the first time. Or I can do it additionally.
- Over time, you or your content team, you’re going to get better at this. Five years ago, I guarantee, the content that I created for Whiteboard Friday, which you’re watching right now, for our blog, it was not nearly as polished, as high quality as what you’re getting to experience today on the Moz blog. We’ve gotten better at this stuff.
Even our hits from 2010 are not as good as some of our good content in 2015 or 2014, because we’re improving. This is going to be true for you as well.
There are three different ways, potential processes that you can go about when you’re doing the republishing thing. These shouldn’t all be done together. You should choose the one that makes the most sense for you and your situation.
So first off, (A) multiple pieces that are published one after another—that time frame could be anything between them—targeting slight keyword variations and slight content variations. So right here I’ve got the 10 foods your guinea pig will love and guinea pig food, just the broad article. I might actually link to each of these between the two of them. This one, it’s a little more listicle-kind of format. This one’s a little more informational, knowledge-based.
The idea, hopefully, what I really want to do is get one of these ranking in the top two or three results. Then once I produce the other one, if it ranks on page one, we know how Google treats that. They’ll put it directly below. So they won’t have you rank number two and you rank number eight. No, you’ll rank number two, and if you rank number eight, boom, they’ll bump you up to rank number three.
So now I dominate two and three in the top three results. That’s going to boost my click-through rate. That’s going to give me a ton of opportunity to earn those searchers. Just awesome. That’s the dominate search results approach.
(B) is replacing old content with new. So essentially, I’ve produced XA, and I’m going to replace it with XB. So I might say, “This page, I’m putting this content on there. The URL is going to stay the same.” The idea being I’m updating and improving that content. I have a second chance at earning links, earning amplification signals, and hopefully getting better engagement. Maybe if I’m already ranking well, I can improve that.
I do this a lot with Moz blog posts. If I get an email from someone and I’m referencing an old post, and I notice that old post is just a little messy or not exactly what I’d offer today, I’ll go in and update it. Sometimes that only takes me 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes it takes me an hour or two. But then I can broadcast it again. I can tweet it. I can put in on LinkedIn. I put it on Google+. I put it on Facebook. I share it around. That broadcast activity often earns lots of new links pointing to it, and I see that pretty consistently, at least with my audience.
(C) I can redirect old content to new. So potentially I can say, “Hey, you know what? I’m producing this new piece on 10 neat foods your guinea pig will love. This old article I just don’t love anymore, but I want to get the rankings benefit and all the signals to this new page that this old one has.” So all these links and wonderful things that were coming in here, I want to redirect them, and so I’m going to use a 301 to point A over to B.
This has worked for us many, many times with big content pieces that we’ve produced here at Moz, everything from the Ranking Factors to our industry survey to lots and lots of other things. We’ll even do this when we produce a new blog post that is really replacing an old one. We’ll go ahead and 301 redirect, or potentially rel=canonical that old one, so make sure that old one is still accessible for someone if they want to see the historical version, but send all the ranking signals, all the links, and all the traffic to the new one.
Like I said, these three, you should choose which goal you’re trying to solve and then pick the republishing process that works best for you.
All right everyone. Look forward to seeing you in the comments and to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
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