Cutts advises refreshing old sites to keep rankings

By Rachel Hand topicIcon SEO

Why old sites can suffer

Google head of webspam Matt Cutts has spoken out on why older sites may not maintain their search rankings over time.

The Webmaster Help video was posted yesterday in answer to the question, "How can an older site maintain its ranking over time?".

Cutts replied that the best thing to do is to take a fresh look at a site; many more established domains may find they have not updated their site design or layout in many years, with the result that they look stale to today's users.

He went on to comment:

"Newer sites, more agile sites, more hungry sites, more sites that have a better user experience, they can grow and they can eclipse you, if you don't continue to adapt and evolve and move with the times."

Stay fresh

Traditionally, an older domain can be favourable for good rankings, as it can build up trust, authority and backlinks over a longer period of time. Meanwhile, the 'freshness' of content on a site has always been important in SEO, with regular page updates or blog or news articles helping to show Google the site is up-to-date and bring in new visitors.

However, Cutts has now reiterated Google's focus on user experience and functionality as being a crucial factor, suggesting people preferring a site - either demonstrated in engagement metrics or in an increased number of backlinks - will lead to it rising in the rankings.

Adrian Mursec, head of development at theEword, commented: "The moral of the story is, don't get comfy. However old your site is and however well you are ranking, it is vital to conduct constant updates and analysis to stay ahead of the game. Making sure your site is fast, visually appealing, works well on mobile and tablets, and contains fresh content could benefit both your rankings and your users."