Use it or lose it

Use it or Lose it

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Have you heard of the “use or or lose it” principle”?

My immediate thoughts about this phrase made me think about muscles. If you don’t do any exercise, or very little exercise, you will lose any muscle definition you had.

If you’ve ever not been well, or had a prolonged stay in hospital, that has meant you’ve spent a long time lying down then you have probably struggled to get going again. The worst case outcome of inactivity on the body is muscle wastage.

My next thought was about the brain. Did you know that thousands of new neurons are added into the adult hippocampus each day? I didn’t until just now. Research*  has shown that many of these new neurons survive by learning. Learn new things, extend the mind and the neurons survive. This is another example of the “use it or lose it” principle.

I had a friend who did a cryptic crossword everyday. I used to look over her shoulder, frustrated, as she filled in the blanks far faster than I could. She had started doing these crosswords when she was young. She died in her 90s with a healthy mind, living independently until the end.

Whether it be muscles or neurons the principle of “use it or lose it” is about keeping healthy isn’t it?

Keeping websites healthy is also something to which the “use it or lose it” principle applies.

Every time I finish a new website and hand it over to a client I say “don’t forget to use it”.

How does Google decide if your website is healthy?

There are hundreds of criteria that Google uses to decide if you have a healthy website.

I am going to focus in this article on one of the most important factors to having a healthy website – the Google Freshness Algorithm.

This is also referred to as “freshness SEO”, “content freshness” or “content freshness SEO”.

Unlike many of Google’s algorithms the freshness algorithm makes so much sense.

Even better still, content freshness does not require any technical skills.

Let me give you an example:

A few weeks ago if you wrote a post about the “R” rate and the Coronavirus your website would be considered very up to date or “fresh” in Google’s terms. If you wrote a post today about the same subject it could be considered as “old news”.

How can you improve the content freshness SEO score?

Here are the easiest ways to improve the freshness SEO score of your website:

Update existing posts

If it’s relevant then updating your existing posts is a valuable and effective way to improve the freshness SEO score of your site.

Any business that uses science or technology could update previous posts whenever there is a new discovery or tweak.

Anyone working in the health & well-being field has new information coming at them all the time so updating an old post would be good.

Adding new posts

Adding new content to your website is more effective than just updating existing posts.

If you have integrated a blog into your website adding new posts is also the easiest way to keep your website doing well on the freshness SEO side of things.

What type of content improves the freshness SEO score?

  1. Hot topics
  2. Current trends
  3. Latest news from your industry
  4. Innovations in your field
  5. New discoveries in your specialist area
  6. Events in your area that are relevant to your business
  7. Your interpretation of existing subjects

If you were in the construction industry here are some sample post titles you could use to improve the freshness score today:

  • How the coronavirus has affected the building trade
  • How to protect your staff on a building site from Covid-19
  • How we are protecting our clients when we deliver our timber roofs

If you worked in the mental health industry here are some sample post titles you could use to improve your freshness score now:

  • How to feel less anxious about wearing a mask
  • Look after your mental health as we come out of lockdown
  • How to protect your mental health from the Coronavirus

Just type “Google trends uk” into Google and you’ll get a page that looks something like this where you enter a topic. This is one way to find out current subjects to blog about.

I’ve typed in “Wolverhampton Wanderers” as you can see.

Google Trends

Another easy way to find hot topics is to use Google News. Go to Google, enter your subject and then click on the news tab. In this example I’ve entered “Wolves FC” and I would now publish a post on my football website (I don’t have one – but I could!)  about what I think of Morinho’s claim that he is treated unfairly by other managers.

Wolves FC Google News

I’m sure you know where to look for hot topics in your area of expertise but that’s just two examples of where to look.

What are the benefits of improving the freshness content SEO score?

There are 3 main benefits to keeping your website fresh:

  1. You are providing answers to questions your customers are currently asking in Google
  2. You are giving Google reasons to show your website to more people
  3. You are feeding the SEO spiders when they visit your site – read last week’s post about The Good Spider if you want to find out why that’s a good thing to do.

A Sad Story

I have a client whose site was doing very well. I had done the SEO work and they were publishing blogs and posting on social media. When I looked at their Google Analytics report the numbers were great. More importantly they were getting lots more orders from the website; from telephone calls and by people filling in a contact form. But then as work got busier in their office, the website gradually fell down their list of priorities. It had been a few months since they had been able to publish a blog post or post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. I had a heavy heart when I started to see the numbers go down.

Unfortunately this story happens time and time again.

But don’t be too downhearted! You can start again publishing content,

Even I have had gaps in publishing my blog posts.

But then I pick it up again and keep running with it. It is a marathon not a sprint.

Like many things though it is easier to keep updating your website rather than having big gaps and restarting.  I used to be able to spend an hour working my muscles in the gym. If I tried to do the same now it would be difficult – but not impossible.


So, keep using your website or be ready to lose its effectiveness.

*Source: “Use it or lose it: How neurogenesis keeps the brain fit for learning” on

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