Spider in a spiderweb

Keeping Content Fresh: Feeding the Search Engine Spiders

We’ve all heard the old adage “content is king”. Bill Gates wrote about it back in 1996, and internet marketers and SEO professionals have been pulling it out of their hats ever since. Twenty years later, this pithy saying is still accurate, but it doesn’t actually express the whole story, particularly when we talk about digital content. The missing descriptors are “fresh” and “high quality.” Fresh, high quality content is what makes SEO wheels turn. Why? We’re so glad you asked. Obviously, adding fresh content to your website serves several purposes. It builds your authority on a subject and increases your visibility, it gives your regular website visitors a reason to check back in on your site, it gives people something to share on social media, it creates another door into your website and business, and ideally it brings in a new customer, client, volunteer, donor, etc. But also, it keeps your business in full view of search engine bots, which is crucial these days if you’re going to play in the SEO big leagues.

A search engine bot, crawler, or spider, such as Googlebot, Bingbot, or Yahoo Slurp (yes, it’s really called that)—is software that “crawls” around websites (hence the spider reference) and finds new or updated information about content on the Internet. It starts with web pages and sitemaps it already knows (ones it’s crawled before) and looks for links to new material, which it then indexes and adds to its list of pages to crawl again in the future. It processes not only the words on the page, but also where they’re located, and it pays attention to title and ALT tags. The reason that it’s important to keep the Spiders happy and well fed is because Google and other search engines continue to update their algorithms to emphasize new content. So if you want your website to be high on the list of results when a search is performed, you have to feed the Spiders. (Sorry, this analogy got a little creepy didn’t it? Well, we’ll just forge ahead.)

The other important feature in adding new, quality content to your site is that you’re building links for the Spiders to crawl across. Ideally, a reputable website, blog or social media site will see your amazing new piece of content and someone will call it out and add a link to your website. Search engine algorithms love these high-quality links and are likely to bump your content higher in search results.

Blogs are obviously a great way to add new content, and can be used to add information about events, new products, etc. They encourage the web crawling bots to keep coming back to your website, so if you add a link to a product page to a blog, that in turn helps that product page get discovered more quickly. The problem, of course, is that most business owners and managers are really busy! Who has time to write a blog every other week or add a new landing page? While it’s important to carve some time out of your month to prioritize those things, there are some relatively easy content fixes that will keep the Spiders happy in the between times.

4 Time-Saving Tips for Adding Fresh Content

Update Your Existing Landing Pages and Blogs With New Material—You don’t necessarily have to write a new blog in order to add new blog content. You can update what you already have. If you wrote a blog a year ago that could use an update and be relevant again, that takes significantly less time than coming up with something entirely new. You can play that same game with the written copy on your homepage and other landing pages. Make announcements, talk about seasonal changes in your industry, wax on about upcoming events. Remember that it’s not enough to just move some words around. The key is that any updates need to provide value to your reading public and be seen as new, quality content by the crawlers. So yes, this shortcut is a good time-saver, but make sure you’re feeding the Spiders.

Add New Photos and Videos—Photos and videos are easy to add or change on your website, but you have to keep in mind that they only count as new content IF you optimize them correctly. Bots can’t see images. (Blind Spiders?) They require written words to understand what an image is. In other words, your photos and videos need ALT and title tags. They’re easy to add and they read as new content.

One of our beefs here at Lunar Logic is marketers who make the ALT and title tags the same. We call that lazy marketing, and we think your business deserves better. Think of an ALT tag as how you would describe an image or video to a blind person (remember, we’re working with blind spiders here). This is what the search engine bots will read in order to understand the image correctly and to index it for Google Images. Your title tag on the other hand, is what provides additional information for the human beings looking at your website. Instead of a description of the image, it can be a call to action, an idea for how to use a product, or any other text that you’d like people to know. You can learn more about how to write image ALT/title tags in our blog Common Errors Affecting Your SEO Efforts Part 1.”

Update your Event Calendar and FAQ’s—The Spiders hate dated or stale content, and event calendars and FAQ’s are often problematic areas in this regard. If you only have a little time in a month to devote to your website, at least update your calendar with new events and take a look at your FAQ to see if you can make additions or updates. Also remove or archive information that is dated and no longer useful.

Get Your Tools in Order—Google provides a number of tools that help Googlebot identify new content. They’re free and they don’t take tons of time to implement. If you’re not signed up with Google Search Console, get yourself over there and submit your website sitemap (if you don’t have a decent XML sitemap, put that at the top of your to-do list). You don't have to sign up for Search Console in order for your website to be included in search results, but it will help you optimize your performance. Also install Google Analytics. This tool, used in concert with Search Console, will let you see how your efforts to bring in organic traffic by way of your content are paying off. If you need help implementing or understanding these tools, give us a call or drop us a line; our SEO nerds are pros and are ready to help.

It’s easy for busy website owners and managers to get overwhelmed by the thought of regularly generating new content, but taking a little time each month to update existing content and your calendar and FAQs, and to add new photos and videos with the proper tags, will continue to feed the Spiders until you can carve out enough time to write that next amazing blog or to create a new landing page. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us—we’re always happy to talk about SEO.
Are You Ready to Start Your Project?