I am not going to try to cover this huge topic in just one post… What an uninspiring start, eh? Still, now that I have got your attention, let’s see where this leads…
Firstly, what is ‘quality’ in regard to website content? Wholly subjective, isn’t it? Just like the daily newspaper you buy, the ‘quality’ factor is whatever you judge it to be. Far easier to judge ‘quality’ by standards, like a newspaper that is poorly printed, has bad spelling, etc. would be judge as ‘bad quality’. Likewise, a website with copied, badly written, badly formatted content would be judged as ‘bad quality’. Your website’s ‘quality’ is judged by whoever eventually may read it and, crucially, whether they feel it has served them what they wanted or is interesting, inspirational, informative, etc.
Now, frequency and quality with regards to website content can get somewhat blurry when mixed. Is it better to churn out lots of, at best, mediocre content or deliver something good and insightful whenever you feel it is appropriate? Even if you are passing on information, do you pass on everything or only that which has really merit to your readership?
These frequency and quality questions, mainly come down to what is your website for and what are you trying to achieve. Is it for your own interest? Are you trying to sell something? Are you delivering important information? Etc.
Simple stuff, so far? Well, yes until you bring search engines into the equation. Then these pretty basic assumptions change and break up into a fantastically silly guessing game. Does Google like lots of updates? Should I change my home page regularly? Can Google look at my content and see if it is rubbish? Does it care?
Now is a good time to bring in a recent video from Matt Cutts about this subject.
So, is it any clearer? Now, I don’t think for moment that Google or Matt Cutts will ever be transparent enough to tell you the whole story. However, I also think that the steers they give us are never too far away from the direction we should be heading. The information above all else that has been communicated over the past couple of years from Google is that ‘producing great content will give you the best chance of getting good links’ (except they don’t always mention the ‘good links’ part. The rider is that the great content needs to be known about in the first place, which is somewhat of the Catch 22.
Does Google know if your content is good? Well, no not really. It knows if you are on topic, it knows if you have copied your content, it knows if it is link worthy, etc. etc. But, unless they do a hand sort, it does not know if you content is good, even then it won’t be subjective and will only look at the ‘bad quality’ that I mentioned above, but in a search engine’s case they are looking for ‘bad quality’ that tries to cheat them or us. The algorithms will pick up most of the ‘cheating’ Google elements and a great deal of the semantics elements, but will never pick up if your post is fantastic, but then it doesn’t need to, the web will tell it if it is.
So will frequency help me rank well? Yes, it will. For all the reasons Matt says and many others. But will frequency on its own help me? Somewhat, but not in real terms and certainly not without the other ‘trust’ and ‘popularity’ factors that Google puts above all others. More than anything ‘frequency’, as long as it is aligned with good elements of appropriate diversity, will help your ‘long tail’ exposure. For ‘head terms’ there is a much bigger reliance on ‘quality’ mixed with ‘frequency’ to bring link weight to your site as a whole, which will then, in turn, help your site (and it’s targeted key phrases) rank better. Frequency, without quality and diversity will not help you very much and also thin and spread your PageRank/trust weight at the same time.
If you are looking for search engine spiders to visit your site more then, frequency does help, in the same way that individual page improvements help. But, frequency will not help if Google is not really that interested in your site and even though the ‘supplemental index’ has long been forgotten about, the principals still play a part in what Google will and will not index and how it indexes your content.
This post was really meant to look at bit harder at the ‘fresh content’ mantra of SEO, where some people have taken Google’s words and built their own theory. Personally, I agree with certain elements of the theory, but average at best content and average at best links will only get you so far, and there is still a lot of effort and money involved in taking this path.
So is content king? Not in my opinion with regard to better search engine exposure. Google’s fundamental principal has never changed and links and citations are king. However, without quality, popular, authoritative or crucial content, links and citation will always be contrived. And in essence, that can only take you so far and nowhere near far enough in a competitive search engine ranking environment.