With Google making an average of 5-600 changes to its algorithms each year, keeping your content fresh and relevant is a perpetual challenge for marketers.
As the search engine giant marches forward on its quest to make the web as useful as possible for users, it falls to marketers to interpret these changes and create content that keeps their web presence in Google’s good books.
However, constantly creating content with short-term appeal can be time consuming and costly. As a result digital marketers are moving towards adopting evergreen content strategies, where each content piece has a potential shelf-life of years rather that just days or weeks, like the majority of content.
Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, good content should capture the interest of audiences wherever it travels and lead them back to your website, so here are six practices every marketer can employ to increase the impact and longevity of their content:
1. Keep content on brand
As marketers, we’re always tempted to look at the achievements of other brands and try to replicate them in some way, but what works for Red Bull won’t necessarily work for John Lewis.
Therefore, it is vital that any content you create is true to what you do and what you are about as a brand or business. It’s all about being authentic in what you do as your audiences will pick up on this and are much more likely to respond positively to your content.
2. Think evergreen
Successful content is rarely if ever a "fire once and forget" exercise - the ideal scenario is to create a content piece that grows over time and can have multiple iterations.
Map-based content is a great example of the kind of evergreen content that both Google and web users absolutely love: Travel experiences company Musement recently launched an interactive map where movie buffs or casual film fans can enter their favourite movies and see pins on a world map which show the locations where the key scenes in the movie were filmed.
As new movies are constantly being released, Musement can update the map with new content and keep it eternally useful and engaging. Gold star from Google.
3. Elicit a response or go home
The internet is groaning under the weight of dull and uninspiring content, spewed out by ‘ticking the boxes’ marketers with little imagination. If you want to create content that has more long term appeal than a daily newspaper then it needs to elicit some type of response from the user.
Even the slickest produced, most well researched piece of content will fail if it doesn't achieve a reaction. Whether it’s curiosity, surprise, shock or laughter; by provoking a reaction it is much more likely to engage user for longer. They are also more likely to share that content with their own audiences, which is when the real magic happens. If your looking at your content and not feeling inspired, then don’t expect your users to react any differently.
4. Create content for multiple sectors
If you're producing a piece of content for a brand in the financial services sector, ask yourself whether there are any other audiences it might appeal to.
Walking and cycling holiday operator Belle France has developed an interactive wine map which profiles every vineyard and wine available in the Loire Valley. Considering what customers traveling to France would be interested in, the company developed a piece of content that would interest wine buffs and foodies as well as anyone else thinking of holidaying in the Loire Valley.
Again, this evergreen content has the potential to be continually expanded to include other regions in France and beyond, keeping the content relevant for years to come.
5. What does success look like
It’s important when developing content to think about what success might look like. It’s easy to create the content, click send or publish and think that the journey ends there. However, If you haven’t laid down any success metrics then what learning can you expect to take forward to inform the development of your next piece of content?
The obvious objective and a great starting point is traffic. How much additional web traffic can you attribute to that piece of content? Other success metrics might include the number of social shares a piece of content receives, as its this amplification which really helps to deliver big results. Finally, you might want to look at the number of inbound links a piece generates by including some kind of call to action. This might be a simple email capture form to gain access to the content.
Ultimately, it is important that a reliable way exists to measure the success or failure of an individual piece of content.
6. Your distribution strategy is key
Good content takes significant time and resources to produce, yet many marketers simply push it out via their owned media channels and move on to the next job. However, if you’re investing in good content then equal resources should be made available to support an active distribution strategy.
This might include budget for social media distribution, manual outreach to other websites that might include or link to the content or blogger and media outreach.
We know that good content has to provide some kind of utility to the audiences it is trying to reach, but beyond that there are a number of things marketers can do increase the shelf-life and optimise the results that our content delivers.
While Google’s algorithms continue to evolve and the hoops which content creators have to jump through multiply, it’s important to remember that the click still remains the dominant contributor to how well a website ranks. So if you’re going to create great content then you need to know what success looks like and have a clear plan in place for how it will come to fruition.
By Martin Dinham, Director, Barracuda Digital
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