The Rule of Recency – Why Updating Content Matters

Rohitblog_washingtonpostad A recent ad in the Washington Post takes aim at the Monster.com’s of the Internet who have taken away ad revenue from job classified ads (a cash cow for newspapers in the past).  The ad copy reads "The average job listing in The Post is 2 days old. The average job listing online is 2 months old."  Outdated content is the combined result of too many sites launched with ease over the last five years (yet nearly impossible to update) – along with many site publisher’s reluctance to expire or archive their content, somehow believing there is still a value to it.  Yet in the online world, age would seem to decrease relevance. 

Blog posts suffer from this – particularly in fast moving industries.  Every post has a date, and from the moment it is posted, it starts to lose currency (a component of relevance).  Technorati is an unforgiving enforcer of this rule of recency, listing posts for keyword searches based on their recency instead of their relevance. It forces the question of whether it may be better to be current rather than relevant.  Or, alternatively, perhaps relevance is created through current content. 

Ultimately it becomes a question of a user’s priorities when interacting with content and whether recency is a top criteria or not.  A core advantage of the online medium should be the ease of updating and ability to deliver information real time.  With newer and cheaper content management systems out there, as well as the typical American’s media habits shifting to include the Internet for information gathering as well as pre-purchase research … keeping content current online should be priority for every site publisher.

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