Why is fresh content so important for SEO?
Bill Gates states in his 1996 Content is King article that 'content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet, just as it was in broadcasting'. Since 1996 content has proven to dominate, users enjoy online content as it's main focus is to cause interest and offer valuable information. However, in more recent times, the prominence has shifted towards fresh content, or as Justin Briggs defines it, 'content updated more recently/frequently'. (https://www.briggsby.com/methods-for-evaluating-freshness)
The internet today is host to an estimated 1.94 billion websites (https://www.websitehostingrating.com/internet-statistics-facts/). Interesting and up-to-date information demonstrates to users that your website is of value and will likely stand out from the crowd. Providing fresh content helps to create a reputation, draw in new visitors and also creates a reason for users to return. Users eventually develop a sense of loyalty to the websites they frequently visit. However, brand-new content does not necessarily create a loyal following if there is a lack of value. Users prefer to visit sites that provide content on topics that interest and matter to them.
Fresh content that is of good quality not only appeals to visitors but also affects your search engine rating. Search engines use web crawlers to scan your website and ascertain your site's ranking based upon different criteria. For example, an update to Google's algorithm found the length of a content piece appeared to correlate with its SERP (https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking). In this instance, content writers would understand that search engines reward websites with long pieces of content. Google's quality guidelines state that creators should be thinking about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. From these principles, it is clear that content must be fresh and of high quality to avoid penalization from search engines.
The need for fresh content has been most notable since Google's 2011 freshness update. The change in their web indexing system affected 35% of searches and impacted searches on recent topics, recurring events and frequent updates. From this update, websites that frequently offered up-to-date and new information saw themselves rise higher up in the search rankings.
Regularly updating your website with 'fresh' content also positions your site as an authority. Creating new content allows you to hone in and demonstrate your knowledge. Search engines can recognize when users provide an authoritative perspective and reward websites for this. Not only does this elevate your SEO, but it also builds trust with visitors as they can see that your site is trustworthy and positions you as an expert in your field.