Google Freshness: We Boosted Traffic by +57.02% in 2 Months

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You’ve surely heard that updating the content on your website is a surefire way to lure the Google freshness algorithm.

In this post, we’ll show you how we exactly followed freshness strategies to update our Amazon affiliate site’s content and saw increasing in organic traffic in just weeks after doing it!

We made use of the Google freshness factor to witness this surge in traffic.

Let’s get started.

What is Google freshness factor?

Google freshness

Google has affinity to fresh content and ranks it higher in SERPs.

Amit Singhal once said in his blog post:

“Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.”

– Amit Singhal

It makes so much sense.

For example, let’s consider two search queries:

  1. Best DSLR cameras for beginners
  2. Anatomy of the human brain

Now, you can easily figure out that the first query needs more fresh content, as new DSLRs come and go.

Whereas, the human brain remains almost the same (except some neuroplasticity)! And needs little/no content updation.

Broadly speaking, Google has two types of freshness:

  1. Content freshness: Google prefers the old pages to be updated
  2. Sitewide freshness: If a site publishes content more frequently, then it contributes to sitewide freshness

Although sitewide freshness and consistency in new content are important, we’re gonna discuss solely on content freshness in this post.

How does Google determine freshness?

Google's  freshness

Google Freshness factors

There are various factors by which Google determines whether content is fresh or not.

  1. Content change
  2. Good user engagement
  3. Fresh backlinks
  4. Published date / Last modified date
  5. Presence of keywords that signal freshness

If you are long enough in this SEO industry, you may have surely tried changing the blog post date and expected a CTR boost. Although it sometimes works, it’s not that effective.

Because, sometimes even if you change the updated date in your blog post (by faking a change), Google will not reflect that date in SERPs if the content is not changed.

The reason?

It is in the patent that Google filed in 2011.

It says,

“In order to not update every link’s freshness from a minor edit of a tiny unrelated part of a document, each updated document may be tested for significant changes (e.g., changes to a large portion of the document or changes to many different portions of the document) and a link’s freshness may be updated (or not updated) accordingly.”

– Document Scoring Based On Document Content Update, United States Patent Application

According to the patent, Google may ignore small changes completely whereas the amount of change influences freshness.

So is it difficult to fake freshness?

Contrary to this, an experiment conducted by Moz in 2015, say something different. They just changed the publishing date of 16 blog posts on their site.

Moz Study

This experiment led to 66% lift in their organic traffic in a span of only four weeks, without any content changes!

They just successfully faked it exploiting only one of the Google freshness factors!

QDF algorithm

QDF algorithm

Another way by which Google determines the freshness of the content is by using Query Deserves Freshness algorithm.

Google can determine the exact intent behind a keyword using Rankbrain, and also categorize the keywords that deserve fresh results.

By definition, the QDF algorithm is a mathematical model that tries to determine when users want new information and when they don’t.

QDF algorithm comes to play whenever there’s a big buzz going on or surge in “mentions” around a specific topic.

For this, Google monitors the following sources:

  • Search requests trend (sudden rise in some search topics)
  • Google news (a new buzz)
  • Blogs

As long as various websites and searchers are actively discussing a topic, the QDF algorithm holds true for that topic. Google tends to favor fresh results for that topic to fulfill users’ intents.

If your article has keywords that are currently actively discussed all around the places (I discussed above) where QDF monitors, your content may be seen as new by Google.

By analyzing the above sources, Google categorizes topic as one of the followings:

  1. Hot topics: This is the category of of topics that are currently in buzz. Think of Pokemon Go, PubG, etc.
  2. Regular updates: These are topics that Google expects to have regular updates like presidential elections, NFL, etc.
  3. Frequent updates: Topics that need frequent updates for freshness like smartphones, gaming, etc.

My views: Google has come a long way and it now assigns a degree of freshness that topics deserve. For example, smartphones as a topic may have more degree of freshness than psychology as a topic.

The concept of content decay

content decay

Google expects fresh content to be ranked on page #1 for several niches, what happens if you don’t update content?

It decays.

In every non-evergreen niche, there’s a shelf life for the content after which Google deems the content is decayed.

decayed content traffic
Slow content decay on my Amazon affiliate site in Audio niche during Jun to Oct of 2018

As you can see in the above screenshot, for one of my Amazon affiliate sites, due to the fact that the old content was not updated for 5 months, the traffic slowly started declining.


I published roundup (top 10 products) kind of posts which often requires constant updates as technology changes. However according to my analysis, the individual product reviews which are relatively evergreen, did not decay much over time.

Benefits of updating your content

updating your content

You need to consider updating the content for relevancy and freshness.

People think that it’s a pain to update existing content, they’d rather prefer publishing new content.

But the fact is that, once you create a content upgradation system with well-defined processes, it’s very easy than publishing new content.

Here are some of the reasons why we started upgrading old content and you also need to get started:

  1. More ROI than publishing new content
  2. It ranks content easily than the new content as you’re dealing with old content that is already ranking fairly well
  3. It increases the user engagement on your site
  4. It forces Google to update the timestamp for your content in SERPs and in turn increases CTR
  5. It increases earnings and traffic of your site prior to website flipping (if you do it) and increases the total valuation

These benefits when combined across multiple posts, have a compounding growth effect on your site.

How we boosted search traffic by 57.02% in 2 months?

The trigger


What made us do what we did?

Here I’m talking about my affiliate site, where we review mainly Amazon products.

We started the content upgradation process from Feb 9th, 2019.

Below is the search traffic graph before content upgradation.

As you can see, in spite of the fact that we published at least 2 HQ posts every week, we saw a downward trend due to the content decay (except that seasonal spike).

Search Traffic Graph
Downward trend in traffic for our Amazon affiliate site

The organic growth of the site was stagnant, slowly declining over time.

What triggered us to give old content a fresh spin?

Well, we saw an interesting pattern here.

The content that used to drive us good traffic was nowhere on page one. Recently published blog posts were driving most of the traffic.

In short, old content decayed a long ago.

Final trigger: We realized that if we left that old content as it is, it may hurt our expected ROI on the content spent. Also, we came to know that ROI with content upgradation is far more than the ROI with new content, as we are dealing with old trustworthy content here.

The process


We made up our mind to lower the production of new content from 2 posts every week, to only one.

Instead, we spent time on updating the old content.

We headed over to Google Analytics and identified the posts on our site which satisfied all the below conditions:

  1. Drives good traffic to our site – top 20% of those posts
  2. Declined in rankings and traffic recently in 3 months – but still preferably in top 10
  3. May have content that has become outdated according to our intuition

It made so much sense for us to test the waters of content upgradation with these conditions.

We made a list of 10 such high-traffic blog posts (most of them are product roundups), which needs updation.

Then we created a Notion page called “Content Upgradation”, and created pages for each post inside it.

For every post we asked these questions and created an outline:

  1. What outdated content we have in the posts (if any)?
  2. Are there any newer versions of the products we’ve reviewed? If so, what specs we need to change?
  3. Are the product rankings order still accurate? Is the #1 or #2 product we’ve featured still #1 or #2?
  4. Are there any products we’ve reviewed out of stock?
  5. What products need to be demoted? (We demoted rankings, instead of deleting old products)
  6. Are there any disruptive new product arrivals for roundup posts?
  7. What are the freshness factors that our SEO keyword competitors have in common?
  8. What are the LSI keywords we can include to signal freshness to Google?
  9. What title can we come up with for signaling freshness?
  10. What should be the revised product rankings for each post?

Based on this, we filled out all the details and outsourced content creation.

If there were any outdated products, we removed them or demoted their rankings, and asked the content writers to add additional products and reviews.

The writers submitted us additional product reviews we need to add or the sections of the blog post we need to update for freshness. Once we receive, the content, we started updating content.

We did the content upgradation on our 10 posts, and on average 30% content was altered/added for each post. The content upgradation was carried on for 20 days, from Feb 9th 2019.

That’s all we did when it comes to content upgradation.



  • 9th Feb: Started upgradation
  • 28th Feb: Completed upgradation
  • 30 Mar: Prepared this case study
Results Of Content Upgradation

We started this content upgradation on February 9th, 2019 and made it till the end of the month. It took us passive 20 days to complete the upgradation.

content upgradation
The increase in traffic after content upgradation on my site in audio niche

Above is the report of how the traffic was like – before content upgradation, while doing it, and a month after it.

You can see, the traffic boosted within a week of upgrading the content.

Here’s another graph comparing the traffic we got a week before starting content upgradation, and the week of me writing this blog post.

Traffic report before and after content upgradation

Note: I’m doing weekly traffic comparisons in the screenshot, as there are traffic variations depending on the day of the week.

You can see the increase in traffic is +57.02%!

Along with that as expected as also saw a boost in engagement metrics like Pages/Session, bounce rate and also session duration (different than page visit duration). The difference is quite great!

Keywords rank tracking

Well, here are the keyword rankings of the content we upgraded.

Below is the screenshot of how the rankings evolved over time. As you can see, we saw a considerable improvement in rankings and traffic within a week of us starting the upgradation process.

Keyword Report

The rankings were at peak after like 1.4 months of content upgradation.

Note: I only tracked rankings for main one or two keywords of each of the upgraded blog posts. I’m pretty sure that I got good rankings for related keywords as well.

In the coming days, we’ll be working on upgrading our other blog posts as well, after strategically selecting them.

How can you adopt this freshness strategy?

First off, you need to have a proper budget set for content upgradation along with new content publishing.

In order to implement this strategy effectively, you need to identify the content’s shelf life on your blog.

Here are some niches, and I’ve assigned a probable content shelf life:

  • Entertainment news – 24 hours
  • Best smartphones – 1 month
  • Best headphones – 5 months
  • Best treadmills – 7 months
  • Best SEO tools – 1 year
  • Best supplements for anxiety – 2 years

Like this, you need to determine the shelf-life of your content.

If you are in a niche that is at the peak of the technological exponential curve, Google expects more fresh content.

Considering the timestamps of competitors

If you are finding it hard to find the shelf life of your content, take note of 5 popular keywords in your niche and look at the timestamps of your competitors. If most of the top ranking pages are updated in a time span of less than 5 months, it means your content shelf life maybe 5 months.

Every time you think that the content is decaying, you need to update the content making sure that at least 20% of the content is changed.

If you are in a very competitive niche, where there’s a tie across various contents, Google will take the freshness factor seriously into consideration.

You need to first prioritize updating your top performing posts and boost their rankings for exponential gains instead of starting with low traffic content as I explained above in “the process” section.

You may need to answer the questions I described in the “Process section”, when creating an upgradation plan for every blog post.

After doing the content upgradation, if the update is big enough, I would suggest you to republish the post with the current date, get some social traffic, social signals, internal links, and inbound links.

You also need to display the last updated date in your post instead of the published date for Google to pick it up and show in SERPs.

 Plugin WP Last Modified Info

You can make use of the plugin WP Last Modified Info, it also comes with dynamic fields support if you are using page builders like Elementor.

Updated date

With updated date you also get a CTR boost from people who come across your blog on Google.

You need to remember that fresh backlinks and social media engagement of your posts signals freshness to Google.

Expectations: I recommend you to have fairly low expectations in terms of traffic as not all niches are created equal. But usually, if everything goes right, you will see improvements within a week or a two depending upon the crawl rate.

Wrapping up

These days, I’m witnessing over and over again that Google is abnormally favoring fresh content, especially if the SERP competition is fierce.

So, I highly advise you to schedule a proper content upgradation cycle regularly according to your content shelf life.

Hope you found this post on Google freshness and the case study helpful.

What about you?

Have you ever tried leveraging Google freshness factor?

Let me know in the comments below.

Akshay HallurAbout me

Hi, I’m Akshay Hallur. The founder of this blog BloggingX and many other online ventures.

I’m a professional full-time blogger, a digital marketer, and a trainer. I’m here to help bloggers like you to create an outstanding blog and earn money from it.

One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to the blogging community. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media networks. SHARING IS ♥️

92 thoughts on “Google Freshness: We Boosted Traffic by +57.02% in 2 Months”

  1. Great inputs here, a good planning content upgradation strategy will help a lot, you may easily refer to it and plan the next upgradation

  2. I am really happy with your blog because your article is very powerful for a new reader, thanks for sharing!

  3. Hello Akshay, Thanks for writng an article anout How We Boosted SEO Traffic by 57.02% in 2 Months? Its really helpful for me. I learn many things from your blog. Keep posting such an a article.

  4. Love this post. Many people can write, but not persuade
    pretty strong stuff.keep sharing your good thoughts with us.

  5. Hey, Akshay your blog is very good. Thank you for Sharing this, it helped me improve my own content improvement plans this article is very useful for me, because I’m new in this field

  6. Hey Akshay,

    Great post.
    Loved the way you describe all the points.

    I was wondering how to find and omit grammatical mistakes from articles. As a non-native English speaker, it’s hard to grab those bugs.
    Grammarly and other proofreaders are ok but don’t give deep insights. So, the bugs remain.
    Is there any alternative tool that does the job you know of?

  7. I need to thank you for this wonderful Article and also Thanks for this valuable information and all the guidelines you provided About SEO

  8. Thanks akshay, for sharing this well in-depth post, but I have a question by using wp last modified plugin, last updated date is mentioned on every post but in serp it shows its original date, so how Google knows whethet post os updated or not

  9. This is the type of blog which digital marketers and SEO person are always looking for as one needs to get their website traffic asap. The blog is great and helpful.

  10. What a brilliant article. I have been struggling a lot for this information and your article solved my issue. I am looking for more from you. Keep blogging. Thanks.

  11. And as time passes, competition intensifies, the content gets a bit out of date, and slowly but surely, your traffic erodes down to much lower amounts than what they used to be.

  12. Thanks for sharing such a knowledgable case study, I’ve been finding and reading things to help me in this situation but wasn’t able to find anything as on point as this. Great pointers will surely try these out and hope it works. Also i didn’t know that updating content is so important.

  13. one of the best article of the week. According to this article, again we can gain our traffic which is affected by the algorithm recently released. Updating old content is one of the best tricks for increasing lost traffic. Thanks for this great information.

  14. Wow this is really excellent idea about boosting traffic, you are right quality content is king for article which will automatically boost. Google will also support you content.

  15. thank you for providing such an informative article.
    this will surely help me boosting my online business.

    keep writing these type of informative article.

  16. Thank for sharing great information about Google freshness. “Benefits of updating your content” this topic is good for any website for ranking factors.
    Keep sharing new updates.

  17. Thanks! What a great read — informative and interesting. I especially enjoyed learning more about the content and sitewide freshness, as well as the decay of posts.

  18. your knowledge about SEO is impressie..keep sharing your knowledge with us.. enjoy to read your artical…thank you for sharing very helpfull post sir….

  19. So much useful information on your article. This is going to help me a lot. I hope you will keep on posting to update us

  20. Hi Akshay,

    Great post!
    I have no words to praise you.

    You have explained all about Google freshness factor, and how should bloggers take care of it to get more traffic boost!!

    In fact, your article shows how a well-written article should look alike.

  21. I am extremely content with your blog in light of the fact that your article is exceptionally amazing for another peruser, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing!

  22. Hi Akshay!
    Thanks for sharing your experimented result.
    To self-experiments for improving SERP in google are really helpful to learn what exactly the task to be applied for rank better. So, I think we should focus more on the experiment, instead of applying only the theoretical factor SEO.

  23. Hello Akshay, A debt of gratitude is in order for composing an article about How We Boosted SEO Traffic by 57.02% in 2 Months? It’s extremely accommodating for me.

  24. Keep up the amazing content Akshay, this has already helped me reach the first page on many topics and I’m sure to recommend your work to others! Thanks for making this available.

  25. Thank you for the Google freshness factor. But I have some questions.

    1. Freshness is adding some text or re-write?
    2. Do you think we should update the evergreen articles? [you said there wasn’t too much loss.]
    3. My article is “10 things to do *” after a while increase 15 things? or write a new article?

  26. I know for ranking, you should have unique content but as your knowledge, it should keep changing.
    Thanks for sharing and increasing our knowledge.

  27. Thanks for sharing these ideas. I strongly believe it’ll increase my traffic in the coming months. The ranking is my highest source of revenue so I take ideas like these very seriously. Once more, thanks for sharing.

  28. Just perfect timing for me since I’m looking at how to improve my site’s traffic. Thanks for these very informative posts about google freshness, cant wait actually to try these out on my day to day task as a blogger. Hope to get result with these techniques.


  29. Hi Akshay

    This is really a good post with practical examples.

    Especially the content’s shelf life.

    Thanks for sharing

  30. Bishwabrata Banerjee

    Good points. Organic traffic is king when it comes to seo-optimization not just for any blog but for any online company in general.
    Great post

  31. Hey Akshay Bro,
    It is an amazing post! It is an energy booster for every newbie…
    Thanks for sharing this informative real self-post 🙂


    The article was very nice and helpful. Everyone likes articles like this. We want more articles like this, Thanks for the article.

  33. i have blog with tons of articles. its practically impossible to update them as per a schedule. whats your advice?

  34. Lawrence Westfall

    So much to consider when adding content to a blog hoping that the search engines find and index your site and more current blog post. About I can do is add content that is worth reading.

  35. Subhrajyoti Mahato

    Hello, Akshay I am falling in love with your writing. But I have a little confusion. You mentioned one WordPress plugin which is WP Last Modified Info. This plugin is for content republish. I do that without any plugin. I just change the date and time on WordPress. Am I doing right or wrong?

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