Is Your Content Fresh or Past Its Sell-By Date?

Posted by admin at 12:01 PM on Sep 14, 2023


The term “content” has a wide scope on the internet and means everything from a TikTok viral video to an analytical piece on recent research, or a breaking news article. When we talk about content for marketing purposes we can encompass all these types of media and more, because content created for marketing purposes can be of any, or many types.

If we look at the lifespan of a news article, something that is topical and current, it achieves 80% of it's total views within the first 24-48 hours of publication. This is not surprising, as it's content that is only relevant to a specific point in time. Sure, people may come back and read the article again when there's a new development, but that piece of content isn't pulling in new views after the first day or so of being live.

The lifespan of non-topical articles can be longer, and we call this evergreen content. This content is how-to videos, it's insight-based articles and original thoughts that become timeless reference pieces. Content such as this classic tale from Douglas Adams, which was published here in 2015 and updated to include a video narration in 2018, is still getting views and is still within the first 5 results on Google.

It's a great story, which always helps. More than that, though, is the way in which the content is presented. There's a Wordpress file link, and a Reddit link above The Poke's listing on Google, but if you wanted to share this content with someone you'd use the version we have because it has the text and a video – they've added another form of media to ensure their content page stays relevant and it's hardly the only place on the internet you can find this story.

One way of refreshing evergreen content is to do exactly what The Poke have done, and add an alternative style of communicating the same thoughts. Can you turn a text piece into an infographic? Can it be read out by an influential person and presented as an audio file or podcast? Is there a short, filmed discussion that could be had around the content and put out on YouTube?

Refreshing content is a great way of breathing new life into popular content that has always performed well, but how do you create that timeless content in the first place? Originality is key, so make sure your evergreen content isn't simply a version of something somebody else thought. It's worth keeping a note open in your notes app to jot down original seeds of ideas or concepts that could become something bigger with a little nurturing.

Creating a story, a world or a message that readers or consumers can relate to is also crucial, because if it's relatable to them they will want to share it with other people with whom it will resonate. Relatable content gets shares and views far beyond the intended audience.

Try to stay general and universal with examples, something that is not easy. Nothing dates a piece of content faster than a throwaway reference to a Walkman, or a Nokia phone. Try to use examples and analogies that are cross-cultural and not indicative of a particular time period. Things which are personal, like hunger, pain, a desire to learn or the fear of losing out are great general concepts to use which everyone can relate to.

These are good angles to take as the ambiguity inherent in using loose analogies, or ones which pertain to personal experiences means each reader will take something different from the piece. They may take something different from it each time they read it, and a piece to which people return frequently is a piece that will stand the test of time.

One very obvious aspect of timeless content is to leave the date off the header and/or the URL. While it is useful to date content like reviews, new product information and topical news stories (and this helps Google see that the content is fresh and dated, data which it then includes in the search result) evergreen content doesn't need a date to be discovered. It's content that people actively search for and which is relevant whether they read it 10 minutes or 10 months after publication.

When you're looking at your content, you'll have a mix of topical, best-before dated content that is relevant for a specific time period, and evergreen content that is relevant now, next year, and even 5 years down the line. The key to great evergreen content is to aim for originality and timeless, universal appeal, and you can always refresh content that's not quite there to turn it into one of these classic pieces.

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