Do you have outdated or embarrassing content published? Here’s what to do

With content, there’s timeless, current, dated, worthless, and lastly: embarrassing.

I was shockingly reminded of this today when an app I use to find good content recommended an article that promised 18 “epic” social media marketing tips.

“Hey, if they’re epic, I gotta check ’em out,” I said to myself.

When I clicked over to the article, I took vague notice of the publication date; it was written about a year and a half earlier. That didn’t immediately turn me off, but concern quickly ramped up.

The first of the 18 “epic” tips declared that “Live video is hot.” I don’t want to say that ways to use live video shouldn’t be considered good tips, but I don’t think I’d call it “hot” any longer.

However, the second epic tip stopped me cold: SnapChat is the next big thing.

Ask people holding SnapChat stock if they think it’s the next big thing.

SnapChat went from being The Next Big Thing to being Hot, to being a possibly useful platform for some marketers after Instagram ate SnapChat for breakfast with its introduction of Instagram Stories.

The live video tips headline was a bit dated. The SnapChat headline was flat out embarrassing.

The lesson here is that today’s great content can be tomorrow’s embarrassment, so you need to do two things:

  • Favor evergreen content, and
  • Update older content. (There are hidden benefits in this, which I’ll cover in a moment.)

How to evaluate evergreen content

There are two questions you should ask when you’re trying to judge a content idea on its evergreen potential:

  • Will reader interest in this topic wane in coming months or years, and
  • Will the topic itself change in coming months or years.

How you answer these questions will help you determine both the topics you create content on and the approach you take when you create the content. Here’s a Google Trends graph that shows how search interest in “bicycling” has gone down since 2004.

Granted, with a generic topic like bicycling, it’s difficult to predict waning interest. However, with more industry specific topics, it’s not as difficult. You can assume that interest in a new product or service will peak during its introductory period and then start to fall off.

Does this mean you shouldn’t write about these shooting star topics? No. But it means two things:

  • You should be careful about the words you use and the way you approach the topic, and
  • You should be ready to do some updating over time to avoid slipping from dated to worthless (and ideally staying relevant).

Let’s look at the two examples I cited above. Had the writer gone back into this post and changed “hot” to some other qualifier and rewrote “SnapChat is the next big thing” to “SnapChat WAS the next big thing,” this article could still work with readers. This brings us to the important idea of updating your posts.

The update benefits

Keeping a post updated can be extremely beneficial for your SEO. There are two reasons for this:

  • Google notices and loves updating, and
  • Updating can help you avoid cannibalizing your keywords.

I’m responsible for posts on a well trafficked site and there are a few of these posts that, due to the nature of their content, I’ve decided to regularly update.

Google notices this. Updating keeps these posts high in search results and I think that I even notice an uptick in traffic after I perform an update. In the same way, I’ve noticed some similar posts that I haven’t been able to update have fallen off in traffic from Google.

Further, if you have an article that is performing well for a certain keyword, instead of writing a new article on the same topic, update and expand your original article. If you post additional articles on the same keyword, it can dilute the keyword strength of the original article. Instead of diluting its strength, build on its strength by keeping it updated, fresh, and relevant.



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