Confused about how to proceed with your existing content strategy in light of COVID-19? You’re not alone. After the pandemic has upset daily life, brands have had no other choice but to overhaul their existing editorial calendars and refocus their content on the new needs of audiences. They also had to re-evaluate their SEO content strategy. Some have even taken a break from content creation.
While there is still plenty of stuff in the air as the weeks go on, there is one certainty: Going deep into COVID-19-focused content isn’t the way to go.
Across brands, there has always been a bit of a tangle between temporal and persistent content. Time-based content derives its relevance from pressing topics or events and can thus quickly increase site traffic. Persistent content, on the other hand, does not take root in a particular time or event, giving it more enduring value than time content. Both types of content deliver relevant information to your target audience. However, only producing time-based content during a crisis can make your brand appear opportunistic and lack empathy. It can also distract your attention from the current and future needs of your audience.
What you need is a content marketing strategy that balances both time and on-going content. By researching the search performance of these types of content, Skyword found that a mix of the two is essential for driving traffic and a return on your investment. However, that doesn’t mean you can just indulge just any old time and evergreen coin. You will also need to make sure that this content is engaging, useful, and designed with your target audience in mind.
Here’s an overview of the key takeaways from Skyword data along with some recommendations on how to guide your SEO content strategy in these uncertain times.
Link timely events to recurring business challenges
Make no mistake: the impetus to respond to audience trends or business challenges in your content is the right one. As the COVID-19 pandemic brings changes to virtually every industry and every individual, your brand can’t just ignore what’s going on and how it may affect your audience. Creating temporal pieces allows you to tackle these factors head-on while delivering tangible benefits to your SEO content strategy.
As Skyword data shows, time-based content typically generates traffic spikes quickly because it is related to topics and events that generate a lot of online search activity. Applying your brand’s goal to time-bound topics is an opportunity to capture new eyes and give your overall traffic results a quick boost.
An example of this is the creation of content around the CARES Act. Whether you are providing tips on how to ask for money or explaining the ins and outs of the law, CARES law-focused content is likely to attract very significant organic search traffic during this time. Hyper-focused content like this will quickly lose its value once it is no longer relevant. However, time-based content doesn’t have to deliver its full value in the short term.
When this content is tied to recurring or seasonal challenges, such as holiday shopping or filing income tax, it can continue to generate value through periodic increases in relevant search activity. The graph below shows how top time content experiences periodic peaks in organic search views over the three years after it is published.
But how do you produce time-based content that also feels evergreen? Well, a mobile security company might see an opportunity to publish a series on device management and endpoint security, given the increased role mobile hardware plays in maintaining business continuity during COVID-19. This content has immediate time value and may experience periodic increases in traffic over time, particularly as new security vulnerabilities and mobile security challenges develop.
Create today’s content for tomorrow’s audiences
Unlike time-based content, which is primarily focused on immediate results, evergreen content gains momentum over time and provides a sustained source of traffic over a period of years. As the graph below illustrates, it typically takes around 17 months for persistent content to overtake the traffic generated for time-based content. After that point, that content quickly assumes a majority share of time-based content traffic, maintaining that share on average for the next 19 months.
Over a three-year period, persistent content accounts for about two-thirds of all organic search views. It also plays an important role in increasing or maintaining the search ranking of your content, which can help drive more traffic to your site. Evergreen content can also help generate a compound audience by attracting more backlinks, a process that also helps boost your brand’s SERP rankings and increase ROI.
Evergreen topics may be less focused on specific events, but they can still offer information relevant to research trends or current events. Content that deals with business resilience, for example, is highly relevant given the current pandemic, but it also offers an extended time frame to drive traffic as it addresses a perennial business challenge.
Achieve balance to stabilize content performance
During times of disruption, brands are often reluctant to post scalable content because it doesn’t seem relevant to their audience’s current needs. But evergreen content can feel temporal without having an expiration date. Plus, posting this kind of content is a smart forward-looking strategy that relies on instantaneous time piece returns to balance your SEO content strategy.
And during the COVID-19 pandemic, posting persistent content alongside time-based content is especially crucial. By providing this balance, your brand can drive the traffic it needs over the weeks and years to come while meeting the current and future needs of your audience. Not to mention that posting a balanced mix of content shows that you understand and empathize with what your audience is going through, and that you’re not just looking to capitalize on the moment.
As the graph below illustrates, the temporal and perennial content complement each other. While time-based content generates the majority of total organic search views in the months after publication, evergreen content takes up that majority share around a year. And by the third year, evergreen content takes over a significant percentage of organic traffic from time-based content.
Construction authority and avoid shortages
Temporal and perennial content also has an integrated relationship with regard to search visibility. When published by a site that has historical content proven to be relevant to its topic, time-based content is more likely to gain higher visibility through organic search. Evergreen content plays a huge role in demonstrating this relevance.
By continuing to post scalable content alongside timely content, you are setting the stage for expanding the reach of future time pieces. While you may be tempted to focus your content creation efforts entirely on current affairs, doing so by default leads to a short-sighted content strategy that leaves no room for permanent content. In turn, this decision will likely hurt both your organic search traffic and the overall performance of your content.
Sudden events and business developments can turn your editorial calendar upside down. While you can’t control how or when these disruptions occur, you can address them by actively calibrating your content strategy to include both temporal and permanent elements. Achieving this balance is by no means easy, but it is a good practice worth embracing as it keeps your content strategy healthy and successful, helps you stabilize your business operations, and allows you to better support your audience.
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