Established brands have a tendency to outrank newer pages and sites on Google.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- Older pages (and particularly those on old, authoritative sites) likely have more citations and backlinks
- Older pages have been crawled more by Google
- Older pages have more user data associated with them (users have interacted with them and Google better knows how users like or don’t like them)
- Older pages have likely been updated and many times have better content as a result
- Older pages are often associated with older, authoritative domains
- Older pages are more vested, tested and aged
We discuss the phenomenon many times on the blog, including on the following posts:
- How long does it take to rank on Google?
- Why it’s harder than ever to do startup SEO
- It can take a long time for backlinks to start working
Table of Contents
Google Rankings Data
Google has stated that articles are partially scored based on the date of creation.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that an older page will be more favorable than a newer page, but the data would suggest a strong correlation between the age of a given piece of content and its associated rank in Google:
Specific incidents must apply to the article to make an older article more favorable than a newer one and vice-versa.
Evergreen Content is King
You’ve heard the expression that content is king, but it’s not entirely true.
Simply putting content online won’t get you the search engine rankings you want or deserve.
Revisit your old articles and check to make sure they are still factually correct.
If you make any changes or revisions, make sure to resubmit the URL for each changed article to Google.
When possible, avoid citing specific dates and writing content that needs to be updated.
Even adding 200 to 300 words to an older article can help refresh it and make the article more competitive.
Types of Content
Matt Cutts advised writers to continually evaluate their articles and aim to write evergreen content that never goes out of date.
In some fields this is going to be easier than others. If you have a website that deals with technology, chances are, your older articles are going to become useless in six months to one year.
These articles will need constant updating to continue to make them relevant.
Whenever a new operating system comes out, add a section describing how to perform an action described in an older article on the new operating system.
For website that focus on historical information, you only need to update an article when new information comes out.
Focus on writing great content that accurately reflects your titles and the keywords within your titles and you can continue to benefit from your older articles.
Validity & Quality of Links
Older websites and pages that have historically done well, should be able to continue to do well in the future.
One of the main reasons for this is the fact that an older Web page has been around longer and generally has acquired more naturally authoritative quality backlinks directed at the page.
These links from reputable sites makes an older website more prominent in the search engine results than a newer one.
However, it isn’t the only factor that determines how well a website will rank.
The type of content, the websites you’re competing with and other factors also go into the success of a page.
A good rule of thumb is to write what you know, and if you have trouble locating something when you are browsing in your spare time, see if you can write your own article about it to take advantage of that unique niche.
Chances are, if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, neither can anyone else.
Outranking Newer Pages
Here’s a dirty little secret that new website owners understand about how they can overcome an established website.
A newcomer has little to lose and can view a top ranking website with older content, revise it and make it longer, better and more useful.
By providing an exceptional navigation experience and better content, newer sites can take the concepts expressed on older website and create content that sheds new light and becomes more useful to search engines.
Search engines don’t want stale content and they want to provide searchers with information relevant to today.
If your website is starting to lose the search engine game, you need to take action, revise those old pages and add something new and interesting for your readers.
Give your audience a reason to keep coming back and you’ll be rewarded with higher search engine rankings.
When New Content is Better
Google uses certain signals to determine when a topic is hot or not.
There’s actually a name for it. It’s called QDF or “query deserves freshness.”
It’s one of the reasons you’ll see brand new content start to rank highly in search.
A hot topic will send off signals to Google that indicates fresh, new content is more desirable than older, established content.
News and trending topics typically fall into this category.
In cases where you are trying to rank for a trending topic, it’s best to write several shorter stories that are released as new information becomes available.
This will keep your content fresh and at the front of search engines.
Google also may start ranking an older site lower if the content suddenly becomes more popular and users begin to click on fresh, newer articles instead of the older article.
When Old Content is Better
Older content also has it’s place in the world of search engine optimization.
Google has noted that searchers can specify a specific date to locate the content they are looking for. If an individual begins searching for a topic that was written in the 1990s, then content from that time should start to show ahead of newer results in the search engines.
Since these searches are performed, it makes sense to keep older articles active when they hold historically relevant information.
Also, if you have an older page with a relatively high click-through rate, then you shouldn’t notice a decline in the ranking of your page.
If the page doesn’t have good results, then it makes sense to update the content to make it fresh and competitive.
Continuous Content Improvement
If you have an older website, the good news is that the pages that have earned a substantial amount of Page Rank don’t need to be put out to pasture just yet.
You need to think of your website as a living organism that responds and adapts as necessary.
Some pages are going to need to be rewritten and updated. That doesn’t mean an older post that provides good, relevant content requires that you give up on it.
The long tail in search engine optimization practices is still an important aspect of any websites presence.
Think of your older pages as investors think about their portfolios. A wise investor knows that they have to diversify.
You need to continue to create new content, but you can also keep your older Web pages active, sometimes all they need is a little sprucing up.
Keep a variety of content on your website and like the smart investor, you’ll find that you can grow your website and continue to improve in the rankings.
Update the Homepage with Caution
The homepage of your site should be changed with caution.
Google has different rules homepage SEO best practices.
Older pages can continue to rank highly if they appear on the front page. One way to check is to search for the content in your home page and see if other, newer content appears before your page.
If this is the case, it might be best to update your homepage or add additional information to make it more relevant and fresh. Ultimately, the homepage can usually be left alone, provided it targets the title and content of your website adequately.
Learning how to navigate the usefulness of old and new pages is something of an art-form. You need to constantly track your rankings and if the site begins to slip in ranking for your desired keyword, it’s time to take action and update the content.
Google has been putting a higher priority on longer articles and articles that don’t simply keyword stuff to get ahead.
Continue to write great content that reflects your title to achieve rankings on pages that provide specific and actionable content.