How Rotating Content Affects Search Engine Optimization

One of the key factors to creating a website that draws and engages visitors is not only to have it look aesthetically pleasing, but to ensure that it is dynamic.  There are websites that we all visit, but would we continue to visit these sites if they never changed or if they changed every month instead of weekly?  This is an important question to ask and one that many web developers have answered by making their websites more dynamic.  In some cases, making a site dynamic requires relying on rotating content to make a web page seem fresh and ever-changing.  However, the question must be asked- does rotating content affect search engine optimization?

What Constitutes Rotating Content?

For most visitors rotating content is a common phenomenon.  We have all visited a site that each time we visit it or refresh our page; we view a new image, new tip of the day, new article, new video, new links, etc.  Rotating content is usually done with a script and for most part it is an efficient way to serve up content that is dynamic without having to load static content to your site daily.

How is Rotating Content Viewed by the Search Engine Robots?

I came upon a video by Matt Cutts from Google researching this subject.  He talks about this subject in depth, as it is a commonly asked question that is asked my many web developers and SEO/SEM professionals alike (the link for the video is below).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlwsuL1cbg0

Generally speaking, if you wondering how rotating content is viewed by the search engine robots, think of it as a snapshot.  When a Google robot visits your site, it sees your site how it is at that instant.  So depending on which content is rotating, that is the information that the robots will take back to the Google data center and be processed with their algorithms.  So whether you have 2 videos/ images/ articles rotating or 10 of each, the Google robots will only be able to view one at a time and that is the information which they will bring back to the data center.

So What Does Google Suggest?

Rotating content is definitely not a bad way to enhance a site and engage your visitors.  However, when optimizing your site, you should definitely consider a few things.  First, you want to make sure that any kind of content that you want to be seen by Google is static.  If you have an image or video that you just created for SEO purposes, don’t rotate it.  Instead post it on your site as a focus for your visitors and the robots to see.  Second, never rotate important links.  If you have links to a sister site, blog, keyword landing page, FB page, etc you definitely do not want to rotate these links.  What will happen is that the robots will visit your site and some of the links will be completely invisible to the robots- remember the snapshot affect that I talked about earlier.

A Quick Note About Flash

Just to note, many might equate rotating content with using Flash. This is an apple and orange scenario.  Actually, Google has become much more sophisticated when it comes to reading flash by its robots.  However, even today, Matt Cutts from Google is still reluctant to state that 100% of Flash is easily viewable by its robots- so again use discretion in what you use Flash for on your website- especially for SEO purposes.