Fresh content means that a website’s pages have been updated or new ones have been added. It can be an important factor that search engines take into account when determining a page’s ranking in its search results but it’s not as important as quality and relevance.
Any changes or additions to a web page such as new blog posts or links to other sites will be considered fresh content. Search engine spiders or web crawlers are constantly searching the World Wide Web for new content to update their indexes and they treat it differently to “evergreen” sites whose content rarely changes. This doesn’t mean that new content will always outrank old content because some pages don’t need to change. A brochure website for a small business for example can remain the same for years and still rank well for a range of keywords. Sites like blogs however are expected to change and they may well see their rankings decline if nothing is posted on them for months.
Search engine optimization is an art rather than a science and all kinds of myths surround it. The simple fact is that nobody knows how the search algorithms work because search engine companies don’t tell anyone. They do publish guidelines for web developers that can help improve a page’s position in the search results and Google says it uses something that is called “Query Deserved Freshness (QDF).” This means that if a topic is attracting a lot of interest they will look for any fresh content related to it and boost the ranking of pages that are most relevant. This particularly applies to “hot” topics or “trending” news items that are soon replaced by others so the ranking boost is only temporary. In order to maintain a good ranking in the long term the best strategy is to simply follow their guidelines and make changes on features they consider important such as making sites responsive for viewing on phones and tablets.
One of the myths in SEO is that “search engines love fresh content”. Whilst that is true up to a point what they really love is fresh, good quality and highly relevant content. As part of an overall marketing strategy it can certainly help boost a site’s ranking by rewriting existing text or adding new pages and videos but there’s no guarantee that it will. The aim of freshening up a site is to improve the quality of the user’s experience of it. Search engine companies can measure things like how many visitors a site gets and how long they spend on it. These measurements of engagement are also going to be used when determining the position in the results pages because they always want to display the most useful and relevant pages to the user which may or may not be the newest.