In a meeting with a client a few weeks ago, we reviewed potential blog post titles. We were excited — the topics looked informative and helpful and had tons of potential. In our enthusiasm, we almost missed something that would have shortened the lifespan of one piece by at least a year and severely limited how we could use it as part of our overall content strategy.
What was that big problem? It didn’t appear big on paper. In fact, it was only four numbers: the year, 2017.
If we would have kept “in 2017” in our blog title, it would have instantly shortened the lifespan of our content and devalued the content in the years to come. But by removing the year, we increased our ability to leverage in 2017 and beyond. The topic will continue to appear relevant to website users much longer than it otherwise would have. That's not to say that timely content doesn't have a place in your marketing strategy, but it's important to recognize your key messages and formulate a solid content strategy that will stand the test of time.
Why Timeless Content is Important
People who visit your website are making significant judgments about the quality of its content within the first few seconds. In fact, the Nielsen Norman Group reports that the first 10 seconds of being on your website are when users judge it most harshly and are the most likely to leave.
There are many factors that can lead users to leave web pages, but the perception that content is dated and no longer useful is one of the most significant. Your website might be unintentionally sending users that message by using an outdated design or by having a blog that was last updated five years ago. For your website to perform optimally, it must look – and be – relevant and timely.
What’s more, timeless content is critical for bringing in a steady stream of web traffic to your site. It continues to answer the questions people type into the search engines, and it boosts your site’s credibility through frequent social shares. Content that is timeless can answer questions and be shared twelve months out of the year. Content that is time-sensitive may only be valid and useful for a short time.
Leveraging Evergreen Content as Part of Your Content Strategy
Marketers have a term for timeless content. It’s “evergreen.” Like an evergreen tree, evergreen content is fresh no matter the season. It never goes dormant. So, how do you create a content strategy that will use evergreen content to stand the test of time?
The first step is critical thinking. When considering all content, ask yourself why that content is important and how it will be used. Be aware of time-sensitive content and its capacity to sneak into even your best blog topic ideas.
Does this mean that all content on your site should be evergreen? No. Absolutely not. Time-sensitive content should be an important part of your overall content strategy. Without it, websites can appear flat and inauthentic. Feel free to write blog posts related to important upcoming events, new industry trends for spring, or things to watch out for in 2017.
Just remember to build on that information with timeless content that will continue to resonate with users no matter what time of year. You can share evergreen content on social media many times because it is always relevant. So, content written as a blog post in March can be shared on Facebook in boosted posts in March, April, May, and June.
“Evergreen” vs. Time-Sensitive Content
The key difference between evergreen content and time-sensitive content is that evergreen content stays relevant and "fresh" for readers (like an evergreen tree). It never loses importance as time passes, and it doesn't need to be continually tended to and updated. Here is a comparison:
Evergreen content includes:
Time-sensitive content includes:
If you have a good mix of evergreen and time-sensitive content to leverage, users will be more likely to find your website and like what they see when they get there. You’ll be that much closer to creating a content strategy that will stand the test of time.