Write, Rewrite, Repeat – Evergreen Digital Content

Printed copy has an interesting characteristic. It never changes. I once checked out a copy of “Scientific Advertising”, by Claude Hopkins from the local college library. Of course, it’s got exactly the same content now as when I first checked it out – and as when it was first published close to a century ago. What a different approach from evergreen digital content. 

Digital Content is Evergreen
A screenshot from my WordPress editor

When the traditional authorities of advertising and marketing, like Drayton Bird, assert that digital marketing is identical to traditional marketing, they are largely right. The techniques forged by the expert direct mail marketers have not “worn out”. (On the contrary, they form the basis of digital marketing.)

Hardly anything except the changes in media differs from what was written in 1926 by Claude Hopkins in Scientific Advertising. For example viral marketing is just a variation of member get a member which has been around forever.
~ Drayton Bird

OK. But.

But here is where we have a key point of differentiation between old and new: evergreen content is a distinctly digital method and an important part of any digital strategy.

For example, I publish a piece of content that I have revised, by my estimation, 450 times. 

Why?

Well, partly because that content defines (for me) digital strategy, which is at the very core of my life’s work and career. Defining it keeps me honest and gives me a framework for designing solutions for my clients. It’s my cornerstone content and defines all other services I offer.

So it’s important for me to continuously curate that definition, which I first wrote in 2011, and first published in 2016.  The publication date is totally irrelevant; what it said yesterday is of interest, but what it says today is what matters. 

That said, the definition itself has stabilized over the past year. But even so, that doesn’t mean the article should remain untouched.

In fact, even if I never saw fit to alter my definition of digital strategy, I’ll always run into interesting definitions by other people – what better place to aggregate definitions of digital strategy.

I think the question for your business is what is your cornerstone content? For most services firms, it’s either:

  • A services page 
  • A founder bio 
  • An about page

That’s an extreme example, but it illustrates the point of this article, which is that continuous optimization of content for your target audience is a strategic priority. I guess you could call it the “Wikipedia Content Strategy”.

Your web content, in particular, should be “over-optimized”

By the way, you’ll notice that I’m part of a trend in digital article publishing in which I forgo the “publication date” convention. A decade ago, web content was heavily defined by its publication date. WordPress blog always featured publication date, both in the URL and in the content. And you could navigate content by publication month and date. You still can actually and that’s not necessarily a bad convention for blog posts.

Reductio ad absurdum. Let’s consider the homepage, on the other end of the spectrum. What if you never changed the content of your site’s homepage. And you out a publication date on it to show when it was created. Ludicrous. And your about page, services pages, bios, same thing. How about your pricing page (if you have one, which you should)? Equally ludicrous.

There is an SEO benefit to evergreen content that has been well-documented and will probably be here to stay. Which makes perfect sense.

But the digital content is both SEO content and conversion copywriting at the same time, and it’s the latter function that you should be concerned with. Even if your target audience doesn’t change (unlikely), your understanding of her, or him, will change. Don’t talk to that person 5 years ago. Talk to them today.