What Do the search engines consider "Fresh" Content?
Is it because the date on the page changed, or is it "Fresh" because the content within the page changed?
The reason I ask, is I have created many new sites and pages recently that will be updated almost every visit by a robot, or surfer. The page dates will not change very often, because of the method of generation of parts of the content of each page, it will change the content of each page, but not the date.
What is Fresh, and what is rewarded?
GB, you suggested this thread, with a different question
What about evergreen content that don't get updated for ages, how come they still get good traffic
There's nothing wrong with sites that don't change - provided they have good content. They will still get spidered, and if their number of links grows (which it will, if it's a good site), then they can still advance, albeit slowly and steadily.
Fresh content on a reasonably regular basis, will tend to encourage more frequent and regualr spidereing, but will not in itself ensure progression - that depends on the Quality of the content, and the uniquity and originality of the content relative to whatever else the spiders find. In general, adding fresh content is a 'good' thing to do, and if done as above, will help in many ways, including attracting more links, and offering a wider range of search results to potential visitors.
What Quadrille said :-)
+ Type of content (which we now know Google algo is able to classify)
A news site is expected to have new content by the hour or at least daily. A history site is not expected to change at all.
A widgets stories or forum site is expected to grow in number of pages a sign of popularity, but not change much inside each page. Vs. A widgets industry definitions site is expected to change much less frequently.
In my experience, based on what I've noticed on pages that have been indexed for around ten years or so, Google (can't say about others) only notices changes of consequence--changes to the text that actually change the way the page would get indexed.
It doesn't see the page as a new page just because I add a few words somewhere. If I revise the title and the opening paragraph, however, that can have an effect, because it affects how the page is indexed.
I would be surprised if Google, or any good search engine, were to treat minor editorial changes or date updates as "fresh content".
I would also be surprised if Google, or any good search engine, were to mark a site/page down just because it has no "fresh content" - but maybe it is a factor for some types of page/site.
My golden rule of thumb is to think in terms of what will work best for the surfer - that will tend to work well with the search engines that matter. Content needs to be good quality and current. If the content has become out of date, its quality will be getting worse. However, if good quality material is still current, it doesn't matter how long it has been since it last changed.
I think that's a good point, though it seems to me that Google does not have any way of assessing if a given piece of information has become out of date. I've seen pages with out-of-date information--pages that haven't been updated in several years--rank well in searches, simply because the site they are on ranks well.
Example: a page with information about publishers, which gives addresses and editors' names that were accurate five years ago but are not any longer.
The kind of changes you describe are important - and I'd not suggest not doing them.
But there's no reason why such changes should affect SE placement, except perhaps in one or two really esoteric searches ... every bit helps, of course, and housekeeping can make a difference in other ways:
As you tidy, you can check that H tags, use of b/strong etc., are appropriate. As you tidy the text, you'll be correcting out-dated terms as you go along ... making searches on more current terms that little bit more likely to happen.
But SEs work by matching search terms with what's there on the page, so if the content is substantially the same, the serps will be too!
I agree that Google would find it difficult, if not impossible, to recognise when content has become out of date.
However, I believe that what matters to Google is what matters to surfers and the WWW as a whole - if a site or page is picking up fresh links and visits then Google may consider the site itself remains fresh.