Google's Matt Cutts On When Old Sites No Longer Rank Well

Jan 28, 2014 • 8:23 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google's Matt CuttsYesterday, Matt Cutts of Google released another video, this one answering why an old site that always ranked well, no longer ranks as well these days.

The question posed was, "How can an older site maintain its ranking over time?"

Matt said that some old sites that have been ranking well for years don't change anything. They leave the 15-year-old template, they don't add any new features or content. They just leave it. This is while other new sites and competitors come into the mix with fresher designs, better user experiences, new ideas and features. Eventually, customers start to leave the old site and go to the new site because it is a better user experience.

Google acts the same way, if you don't continuously improve your sites then why should Google continue to rank it well?

Matt urges older domain names to take a fresh look at their site or else people may leave your site.

Here is the video:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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01/28/2014 02:06 pm

What has an old site that is not updated regularly got to do with Spam? Are these the new spammers? Old sites are now spamming google then. Righto Matt.

Kevin Caldwell

01/28/2014 02:23 pm

This makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing...

Nick Ker

01/28/2014 04:10 pm

This is about quality & user experience, not spam.


01/28/2014 04:31 pm

So what he's saying is if it ain't broke, go ahead and fix it anyway.

Sean Hecking

01/28/2014 05:01 pm

I think what Matt is saying here is if you don't keep up with the times (mobile friendly, etc) You shouldn't expect to rank well over sites that update their sites every few months with new sections or a better mobile experience.


01/28/2014 09:26 pm

theories, practice show different things. join internet coalition...

Raviraj Tak

01/29/2014 05:11 am

That make sense... We have to keep adapting on new technologies and make our self much more friendly with the day to day changes, for example people now a days are involve in using mobile phones, tablets. This means if we are not in to it than we are losing business.. Its simple. Thanks Matt for the video.... :)

Sandeep Mishra

01/29/2014 05:14 am

This is a great information for all IT Expert. Thanks for Sharing.


01/29/2014 07:22 am

Its not all about ranking, its all about the user experience that's what Google is looking for! You serve your website for users.

Ria Parish

01/29/2014 08:52 am

If a website is still providing the same kind of user experience that we expected a decade ago, then I would consider that to be "broke". Matt makes a pretty obvious point: why should they rank well if they haven't put the effort in to improve or even maintain their website?


01/29/2014 10:27 am

So what if the information provided is still 100% relevant today as it was 10-15 years ago? Then what? Spend money to needlessly update how the site looks to keep the big G happy? Stop talking our your arse Matt and go and fight the real spam out there.


01/29/2014 11:20 am

Is not that simple. Old sites having old design and content. I run a site which is 14 years old. In the past 5 years, the design was changed significantly 4 times, and minor changes were made often. From old html theme in 2008, to aspx theme in 2009, then wordpress theme in 2011, and last big one, to responsive theme in 2013. But doesn't seems to count to much. Starting Oct 2011, was hit by Panda or Penguin or whatever several times, succeed to recover to a some degree each time (sadly not fully, the recoveries were smaller than hits all the time). Since then I cleared as much bad links as I could (earned a lot in those years), I used the disavow toll (and refresh the list monthly), I remove hundreds of old posts, I continuously add new content, I use GA and WMT a lot to can improve the site, changed the ads several times (placements, sizes, etc). But each time I succeed to recover to almost full, another hit, and I have to start all over again, and again... I was supposing that having an old site, known name, same audience all this time, will be a plus. But my site that always ranked well (2000-2011), no longer ranks as well these days (2011-2014). I can't figure out what I should do more...


01/29/2014 11:26 am

Forgot to mention. Only about 50% of traffic is from Google. Actually I lost especially Google traffic, while maintaining or increase the direct, referral, social, other search engines traffic.

Patti Paz

01/29/2014 12:33 pm

We, like Jane, have made all those changes BEFORE the Panda / Penguim hits, got a manual penalty, then removed and/or disavowed some 95% of the incoming links, got the manual penalty revoked, AND STILL have lost 90% of our SERPs. And, we have always been adding fresh new content. So, what's a person to do. Google is now favoring blogs and articles sites and leaving the old reliable sites in the ditch.

Alok Raghuwanshi

01/29/2014 12:50 pm

Agreed Matt! content or new feature that attracts the user's attention because it's well-written, relevant and enjoyable


01/29/2014 01:27 pm

The blog and article sites you talk of may be non-commercial ones which have never focused on chasing links for SEO value, instead slowly acquiring natural ones over time. As such, Penguin slamming poor links is more likely to hit sites actively participating in building links, and these sites are going to be the commercial ones with the pockets to fund it in the first place.

Neeraj Dudani

01/29/2014 01:52 pm

Webmasters have Good questions Indeed! :)


01/29/2014 02:41 pm

It's the treadmill effect. New content is valued more over old, so eventually for each new page you start getting search traffic on an old page is dropping farther down into the abyss of the index. I'm in the same position. Began a sit in 2005, and traffic rose continuously until 2011. Always had a natural linking profile, post new articles daily, have good interaction metrics, but I just can't keep older pages getting traffic. New pages get traffic, but there is no organic traffic growth.

Gracious Store

01/30/2014 12:57 am

Do webmasters have to make changes to their sites for the sake of change? If the sites still serve customers need very well should there be any need to change design or shift things around just to make believe there is a change?

Naveen Vijay

01/30/2014 04:26 am

Its as easy as technology is growing very fast and we should also grow to provide better user experience to readers instead relying with same old template. Time to re construct a website.

Jobette Escobanas

01/30/2014 10:51 am

This is the way Google force website owner to update their site and provides best ideas. It means go beyond the standard.


02/14/2014 11:09 am

This is not true! Try searching with google you will find websites that is not even on their own domain with 3 pages and is more than 10 years old ranks well. I dont believe this guy from google. I hope people will realize that search results from google are getting more junk everyday.

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