If you’re one of the people that has a website which has been around for over 10 years, you may have noticed that newer websites are now taking positions that you once owned on search engine results pages. Why does this happen? Is it spam? Or is it the fact that they’re just new ans fresh?

The latest Google webmaster help video from Matt Cutts addresses this topic of what an older site can do to stay in contention for those much-coveted first page results.

Cutts says that sometimes owners of older websites become complacent about their site and fail to keep it up to date and fresh. This is more common that you’d expect as often times when a site ranks well for a long preiod of time, the webmaster is often worried about changing anything could affect the rankings and cause it drop even more rankings. Because of this, that site can and most probably will become outdated with searchers gravitating towards fresher websites with an equally fresh SEO strategy nailed down.

“Take a fresh look at your site,” Cutts said. “A lot of the times if you land on your site from a search result, even if they’ve been in business for 15 years, 14 years, sometimes they haven’t updated their template or their page layout or anything in years and years and years. And it looks like, frankly, a stale sort of older site, and that’s the sort of thing where users might not be as happy about that.”

“I wouldn’t just say ‘I’m number one for now and everything is great’ because newer sites, more agile sites, more hungry sites, more sites that have a better user experience, they can grow and they can eclipse you if you don’t continue to adapt and evolve and move with the times,” Cutts said.

It seems then that the issue lies not with a particular algorithmic change but more so that these newer sites are providing a better user experience (responsively designed; sales ‘path’ in place etc.), or offer other features that the older websites are lacking.

And Google isn’t the only search engine that this is relevant to. Bing’s Duane Forrester offered an important reminder in a recent blog post: while a website may have had past glories in being ranked high on a results page – there’s absolutely no guarantee that will continue indefinitely, for any website:

“Hinging your future on a single tactic, whether it’s social, seo, paid search, email, etc. is a recipe for disaster. Over time, things change. And that change may just happen to you. Sure, I hear you saying, “we’re diversified”. Are you? If you’re investing most of your time in SEO, you’re not diversified.

What if a business idea or vertical falls out of fashion? Or becomes so lucrative, the only way in is to pay? Is your business capable of weathering that change?

Too many businesses today stay laser focused on one idea or approach and when a change happens, they are stunned by their loss of traffic.

Times change. The web has changed. What users expect from the web has changed. Search must therefore keep up with the times.

Business models that made sense 5 years ago might not be viable moving forward. Tactics that worked 3 years ago might not work tomorrow.”

Regardless of whether a site has been around for more than a decade or recently launched; you need to ensure that you give searchers exactly what they want to see as well as what makes sense for that website from an overall SEO perspective. Add great quality and ensure that, if you have an older website, it doesn’t become too stale.

The internet, search engines and its searchers are always evolving. You must evolve and adapt with these changes to continue enjoying search engine success.