How Does “Freshness” Affect Social Bookmarking and Directory Submission?

It went somewhat unnoticed by all but the most hardcore SEOers out there, but a short while ago, Google announced a small change in the way that they valued the “freshness” of a website. This “small change” affected some 33% of search results, but it was nonetheless largely disregarded as irrelevant to SEO because it didn’t actually change the degree to which a given backlink affected the authority level of the site it linked to.

We maintain that this was a dire overnight on the part of the SEO community, in part because there is a subtle way in which authority is affected, but also because modern SEO is about more than just backlinks and authority. As content producers, SEO companies have to make the leap to being both public-relations firms and backlink gurus, because every piece of content we put out there has a good chance of either winning customers over or turning them away.

So how does the “freshness” change affect our SEO?

In terms of social bookmarking, directory submission, and other one-time, relatively content-free backlinks, it’s effect is almost nil. These links aren’t ever going to be on page one — or even page 8 — of Google. It’s these kinds of backlinks, however, that are the ‘cheap and easy’ side of modern SEO.

Social bookmarking and directory submission are so simple and commonplace that they are actually automated in some places — and everywhere else, they’re done by drones packed into cubicle farms or outsourced to freelancers overseas. That’s not to say that they’re not valuable — any backlink from a unique root domain is valuable, and in terms of value-per-effort they’re among the best — but it is to say that they’re among the least valuable backlinks that you can create. That’s because they’re the least likely to rank and they have the least amount of public-relations value (because they have almost zero content surrounding the actual backlink.)

The flipside of that, of course, is that those backlinks that do have relevant content (and thus are more individually valuable in the first place) are more affected by the “freshness” change. There’s now more reason than ever to keep up on your blog posting, turn in regular articles, press releases, and videos, and put that much more effort into your social marketing tactics. In fact, in the end, the only links that aren’t terribly affected by the “freshness” change are social bookmarking, directory submissions, and their ilk.