A lot has been made of the importance of new content when it comes to ranking on Google. But, what’s so bad about older content? Are all old posts bad for your site? Should you be regularly removing old posts?

Thankfully, Google’s John Mueller and Lizzi Sassman addressed this recently on an episode of the Search Off The Record podcast.

In the episode, Mueller and Sassman talked at length about content decay, a term referring to content that becomes outdated or irrelevant over time, how it affects your site, and what you should do about it.

What Is Content Decay According to Google

While the term content decay isn’t necessarily a commonly used term within the SEO community, it is an apt term for some types of content. Specifically, this is how Mueller defines content decay:

“[Content decay is] something where, when you look at reference material, it’s kind of by definition old. People wrote about it because they’ve studied it for a really long time, so it’s an old thing. But, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer true or no longer useful.”

Is Content Decay Inherently Bad?

As Google’s workers explained, content decay isn’t inherently bad. Even some posts that may seem outdated, such as old event announcements or product updates, shouldn’t be treated as a problem.Sassman recommends keeping this content around for historical accuracy.

As an example, Sassman pointed toward Google’s help pages which still use the outdated term “Webmaster Tools.”

“If we went back and we replaced everything, like where we said Google Webmasters or Webmaster Tools, if we replaced Search Console everywhere we said Webmaster Tools, it would be factually incorrect.”

What Should You Do About Content Decay?

It might be tempting to simply delete outdated content but Mueller recommends going back and adding context to outdated content instead. This way, you still retain the value from past content while making it clear what aspects are now irrelevant and prevent confusion among readers. 

As he stated:

“People come to our site for whatever reason, then we should make sure that they find information that’s helpful for them and that they understand the context. If something is old and they search for it, they should be able to recognize, ‘Oh, maybe I have to rethink what I wanted to do because what I was searching for doesn’t exist anymore or is completely different now.”

For more, listen to the full episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast below:

Thanks to a new review algorithm, Google says it has become better and faster at identifying fake reviews. In a new blog post, the company declared, “In 2023, this new algorithm helped us take down 45% more fake reviews than the year before.”

According to Google, it receives more than 20 million contributions every day to Maps and Search. This can make it very difficult to filter out the inauthentic or malicious contributions, so Google uses complex algorithms, along with employees, to help spot these fake contributions. 

The New Algorithm

The latest major algorithm designed to detect and remove fake reviews was added last year. In the blog post, the company describes the algorithm as “a machine learning algorithm that detects questionable review patterns even quicker” by evaluating “longer-term signals on a daily basis” to spot “one-off cases and broader attack patterns.”

For example, the algorithm may act if it sees that “a reviewer leaves the same review on multiple businesses or if a business receives a sudden spike in 1 or 5-star reviews.”

In one case, the algorithm noticed when a group of scammers began falsely claiming they could get people paid for doing high-paying online tasks like writing fake reviews or clicking ads. 

As the company described, the algorithm “quickly identified this surge in suspicious reviews thanks to its ability to continuously analyze patterns, like whether an account had previously posted reviews.” 

With this data, human review analysts were able to cross-reference the data with reports on merchants who had seen a spike in suspicious 5-star reviews to remove even more of the fake reviews. 

In just this one scheme, Google says it was able to remove more than 5 million fake reviews within just a few weeks. 

More From The Data

Along with highlighting how the new algorithm allows Google to identify fake reviews, the blog post highlights several other statistics about fake reviews and spam it had removed throughout 2023:

  • Google blocked or removed over 170 million policy-violating reviews in the past year (a 45% increase from 2022). 
  • Over 12 million fake business profiles were blocked or removed in 2023.
  • 14 million policy-violating videos were identified and removed (an increase of 7 million more than the year before).
  • Google prevented more than 2 million attempts from bad actors to claim Business Profiles that were not theirs (double the amount from 2022).

For more, read the complete blog post detailing how Google identified and removed spammy or malicious contributions to Business Profiles and online reviews last year. 

LinkedIn is introducing a new feature called Sponsored Articles that allows brands to turn articles they publish on the site into ads that will reach wider audiences.

The goal is to provide a way for users to engage with sponsored content without having to leave the site or interrupt their experience.

Though it is already available to most business accounts, the company said some brands may not have access quite yet. 

As it rolls out, LinkedIn admins for business accounts will start seeing the option to promote their post on eligible content. If selected, brands can also opt to gate their content with a CTA like “Unlock Article”.

While some have suggested the new feature is similar to others on the site, such as lead generation ads, a statement from the company said Sponsored Articles have many unique benefits.

Baptiste Beauvisage, Lead Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn, highlighted these particular benefits that Sponsored Articles will give brands.

  • “You can use the content you already have on your LinkedIn page.”
  • “Sponsored posts are more viral than a blog article hosted externally.”
  • “You can have all the comments from logged-in members on the article directly.”
  • “There is a better UX.”
  • “You can drive leads without sending users off Linkedin to consult your article.”

Though the feature is currently limited to business accounts, the company is working to bring it to entrepreneurs and others across the site. It is also looking to expand Sponsored Articles with new features and functionalities that may make it more versatile for brands.

New research from Adobe indicates that more and more people are turning to TikTok to find information, music, recipes, and other things we used to rely on traditional search engines for. 

Analysts have increasingly been noticing that a growing number of people have been using TikTok as not just a social network but as an alternative to search engines like Google and Bing. 

This latest study, which surveyed over 800 consumers and 250 business owners, emphasizes that this trend is accelerating and that brands that are taking advantage of this shift are increasingly being rewarded.

Younger Audiences Are Drawn To TikTok as a Search Engine

Overall, the research shows that 40% of consumers regularly use TikTok to search for topics and information. Unsurprisingly, this trend skews heavily toward younger users.

Gen Z in particular has been driving this trend, with 64% using TikTok for search. 

Millennials have also been adopting this behavior, with almost half (49%) of millennial consumers using TikTok as a search engine. 

Interestingly, TikTok searchers aren’t looking for any particular type of information. Instead, they are looking up a variety of topics including cooking recipes, music, fashion, and DIY ideas. 

While TikTok users are increasingly seeing the platform as a way to find information, they aren’t quite giving up Google yet. Only 10% of Gen Z users said they preferred TikTok over traditional search engines. 

How Businesses Are Responding

As more businesses take note of the popularity of TikTok and its viability as a search engine, more are investing their time and marketing budget to promote their brands. 

The survey found that approximately half of businesses are using TikTok to promote their products and services, averaging 9 posts per month. 

As part of their marketing efforts, many of these brands (approximately 25% of small businesses surveyed) are partnering up with influencers to better reach their audience on the platform. 

When it comes to what type of content these brands are creating, the obvious lead was creative tangential content (43%), followed by product reviews (36%), and instructional videos (35%).

Why This Matters To Your Business

TikTok has proven it is here to stay, consistently increasing its already large user base and diversifying its options for brands to market and advertise on the platform. It is no surprise that users are finding surprising ways to use the platform as it has evolved and these shifts introduce opportunities for brands that are quick to take advantage of them. 

If your brand’s audience tends to be Millenials or Gen Z, we strongly recommend investing in establishing your presence on the site and optimizing your content for its search engine. If you act now, there’s a chance you’ll reach a large number of people before your competitors have a chance. 

Think using blogs to get to the top of the search engines is a thing of the past? Don’t be so quick to ditch your brand’s blog because a new study suggests that blog posts are the most common type of content found in the top 5 Google search results (excluding homepages). 

Even with low-quality AI-generated blog content on the rise, BrightEdge says that blogs are the leading type of content returned by Google – a strong indication that blogs with well-crafted content are one of the strongest search engine optimization tools available to brands today. 

About The Study

For the study, BrightEdge analyzed results for a dataset of 10,000 keywords of varying intent across 10 specific industries:

  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Retail
  • Software
  • Higher Education
  • Real Estate
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • Travel and Hospitality
  • Industrial

Using data collected during August of this year, the study then analyzed the content types of 23,785 pages ranking in the top 10 search positions. 

While the leading type of page found in the top search results were homepages, these were excluded because these are essentially the default type of page Google returns when it believes a site may be relevant but it does not know which specific page to recommend.

Once homepages have been accounted for and excluded, the leading type of content in top search results was blog posts – accounting for 19% of the top 10 search results. When you narrow the focus to just the top 5 search results, that climbs to 23% of search results. 

The Takeaway

Many brands have been moving away from traditional brand blogs because of a misguided notion that blogs were becoming irrelevant compared to more interactive or visual media like videos or user-generated content. This trend has only accelerated with the recent surge in lower-quality content pumped out by generative AI systems. 

As Jim Yu, founder of BrightEdge and executive chairman says, however, well-maintained blogs are still an essential tool for raising the visibility of your brand and educating consumers:

“The future is not just AI – it’s AI and human symbiosis. AI can inform and assist, but human creativity, expertise and skill sets are necessary to add the voice and trust of your brand. Success lies in the fusion of AI and human expertise throughout any content creation process,” 

Brands struggling to make progress in this area should likely re-evaluate their content and ensure their strategy is focused on delivering relevant, useful, and interesting information to your target market. 

Google Business Profiles are an incredibly powerful tool for helping customers discover your business. Unfortunately, they also make it possible for those with more malicious intentions to find you, as the rising number of Google Business Profile robocall scams shows.

Hiya, a company that tracks phone fraud and scams, recently published data showing that scams targeting those with Google Business Profile listings (and other Google-related phone scams) have been on the rise over the past year. 

Through July, Hiya documented more than 17,000 reports of Google Business Profile scams. That breaks down to more than 2,000 scams being reported each month. 

How To Spot The Scam

The easiest way to know if you’ve been targeted by a scam like this is simply having received a robocall claiming to be from Google or a Google partner. Google does not use robocalls to verify or otherwise contact businesses.

While the company found more than 100 variations of the scam, it shared two of the most common voice recordings people have been receiving from scammers claiming to be “Google partners”:

“Business owners, your Google Business Profile has not been registered with Google. Please press 1 to be transferred to a business listing specialist to assist you in registering your Google Business Profile, or press 2 to be placed on the do not call list.”

“Hello. We’re calling from Online Listing Group because your Google Business listing needs attention. If your listing is not showing up properly, customers will not be able to contact you or find your location. If you are the business owner, press 1 now to verify or update your business. Press 9 to opt out.”

To avoid the risk of being taken advantage of by scammers, Google and Tulsa Marketing Online both recommend only working with marketing agencies that have a long-established track record of using approved strategies to boost your presence on the search engine.

Google is finally allowing brands to naturally add social media links within their Google Business Profiles. 

The move comes following years of frustration from website owners, as other search engines like Bing have allowed similar links and more advanced social media integration for years. 

Now, any business with a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business profiles) can highlight their social channels easily within Google Search and Maps. 

This is especially important for businesses that use social channels to handle customer support, as well as making it easier for brands to connect with new potential customers on the platforms they are most active on. 

How It Works

Google quietly revealed the new feature in a support page that details exactly how to add links to your Google Business Profile and what limitations there are. 

To add social media links to your Google Business Profile, first log in and access your profile. From there, look for the option to ‘edit profile’ and select ‘business information’ followed by ‘contact’.

Here you will find a new section labeled ‘Social profiles’ where you can easily add one link per profile, including those on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) or YouTube. 

In some cases, Google may automatically add links to social profiles on Google Business Profiles. If these are inaccurate or you would prefer to use different links, you can edit or remove links in the same area. 

While the feature is already available to many, Google says it is rolling out gradually to select regions.

For more, visit the support page for this new feature here.

A recent article from Gizmodo has lit up the world of SEO, drawing a rebuff from Google and extensive conversation about when it’s right to delete old content on your website. 

The situation kicked off when Gizmodo published a recent article detailing how CNET had supposedly deleted thousands of pages of old content to “game Google Search.” 

What makes this so interesting, is that deleting older content that is not performing well is a long-recognized part of search engine optimization called “content pruning”. By framing their article as “exposing” CNET for dirty tricks, Gizmodo sparked a discussion about when content pruning is effective for sites and if SEO is inherently negative for a site’s health.

What Happened

The trigger for all of this occurred when CNET appeared to redirect, repurpose, or fully remove old pages based on analytics data including pageviews, backlink profiles, and how long a page has gone without an update. 

An internal memo obtained by Gizmodo shows that CNET did this believing that deprecating and removing old content “sends a signal to Google that says CNET is fresh, relevant, and worthy of being placed higher than our competitors in search results.”

What’s The Problem?

First, simply deleting old content does not send a signal that your site is fresh or relevant. The only way to do this is by ensuring your content itself is fresh and relevant to your audience. 

That said, there can be benefits to removing old content if it is not actually relevant or high-quality. 

The biggest issue here seems to be that CNET believes old content is inherently bad, but there is no such “penalty” or harm of leaving older content on your site if it may still be relevant to users.

As Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan posted on X (formerly Twitter):

“Are you deleting old content from your site because you somehow believe Google doesn’t like ‘old’ content? That’s not a thing! Our guidance doesn’t encourage this. Old content can still be helpful, too.”

Which Is It?

The real takeaway from this is a reminder that Google isn’t as concerned with “freshness” as many may think. 

Yes, the search engine prefers sites that appear to be active and up-to-date, which includes posting new relevant content regularly. That said, leaving old content on your site won’t hurt you – unless it’s low-quality. Removing low-quality or irrelevant content can always help improve your overall standing with search engines by showing that you recognize when content isn’t up to snuff. Just don’t go deleting content solely because it is ‘old’.

Threads may be the hottest new social network, but its fast development and release means there is little in the way of actual marketing tools for brands. In fact, the platform doesn’t currently serve ads of any kind.

However, the company announced it is launching tools to let marketers develop their own paid promotion opportunities until more robust advertising options arrive. 

Threads’ Paid Promotion Tools

In essence, Threads’ is borrowing Instagram’s already existing paid promotion tools for influencer campaigns and collaborations. These tools let brands and influencers properly tag content that may include paid promotions or professional collaborations to maintain transparency with users. 

Specifically, Threads requires that:

Brands use the branded content tools when working with influencers on sponsored content

Only brands have access to paid partnership labels to posts

Brands clearly disclose paid partnership collaborations

100 Million Users But No Ad Tools?

So far, Threads and its parent company, Meta, have been quiet about the development of advertising tools or services for the platform. With the announcement that Threads has already gained over 100 million users since its recent launch, though, it seems highly likely that proper ad tools are on their way. 

The current lack of these tools highlights how quickly Threads was developed in the face of Twitter’s ongoing collapse. Despite the limited features and tools for brands, however, the platform appears to be an immediate hit with users who have long been vocally unhappy with Twitter’s direction and leadership.

Fewer people are using TikTok compared to last year and the social network is losing ground as an e-commerce search engine, according to a new study from CivicScience. 

Meanwhile, Amazon is reconnecting with younger generations and growing as the main starting point for people looking for products online. 

In the study, CivicScience asked U.S. online consumers this question: “When shopping for a product online, where do you typically start for product searches and research?” The survey then compared the responses from this year’s survey against those from 2022. 

TikTok gained some attention last year when analysts noted that it was driving a surprising amount of e-commerce-related search traffic – particularly from younger users. This led the company to announce it intends to develop a $20 billion e-commerce business. It is unclear if recent trends have changed those plans or not. 

It is no surprise that Amazon and Google continue to dominate the e-commerce search market. No other challengers have come close. However, Google did see a slight dip in the number of e-commerce searches being made on its platform. 

The most notable shift from this year’s findings may be the increasing popularity of Amazon among younger age groups who had been previously moving away from the shopping platform. 

Compared to last year, Amazon increased its popularity among younger age groups including 18- to 24-year olds (up 45%) and 25- to 34-year-olds (up 44%). 

For more, read the findings from CivicScience here.