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Larry Alton

Seasonal vs. Evergreen Content: The Case for Balance in SEO

Larry Alton
Seasonal vs. Evergreen Content: The Case for Balance in SEO

We all know that content lies at the heart of any successful SEO and overall online marketing strategy, but with so many different types of content, it’s hard to know exactly what works best. Empirical evidence might suggest certain formats of content, such as long-form written pieces or infographics, and certain topics like how-to articles and tutorials – but there are so many dimensions of content, the variables are overwhelming.

One of the most important general distinctions in content is the difference between “evergreen” and “seasonal” content. Though each have their advantages and disadvantages, evergreen generally wins favor in the SEO community – but is going all-evergreen the best approach?

Evergreen vs. Seasonal

First, let’s examine the definitive differences between evergreen and seasonal content.

Evergreen content is content that lasts, theoretically, forever. It isn’t affected by seasonal changes, and doesn’t rely on news or events that expire in relevance. For example, an article on how to tie a tie is not subject to any seasonal changes, yearly fashion changes, and is not based on any new or recent developments. Presumably, it will remain relevant for as long as neckties remain a cultural institution.

Seasonal content, by contrast, is content that isn’t relevant 100 percent of the time, or otherwise content that isn’t relevant for the foreseeable future. These can be characterized with two broad categories; quick-decay content, which has a finite and definitive end point, at which point it is no longer relevant, such as an article predicting SEO developments for 2011.

The other is “true” seasonal content, which remains theoretically practical for some recurring holiday, season, or event, such as an article for how to prep an RV for winter storage.

Which of these is inherently more valuable?

The Case for Evergreen

Evergreen content marketing has a lot going for it:

  • In terms of per-piece value, evergreen content is hypothetically superior. Imagine a written piece of content earns a value of $1 per week. The evergreen piece of content will earn that $1 every week, every year for the foreseeable future, or $52 a year with no cap to its growth. A quick-decay piece of content would be the same, but with a hard limit, and a rotating seasonal piece might only earn $13 a year.
  • Evergreen content never expires. Imagine you wrote a seasonal piece predicting major trend shifts in 2010 that turned out to be wrong. In the off chance that someone stumbles upon it, they could end up with a negative impression of your brand (because the information is both obsolete and wrong).
  • Evergreen content is less demanding to produce. Since the information is always available, you don’t have to rush to be the first brand to publish, and you’ll never face the problem of finding too few secondary resources.

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The Case for Seasonal

On the other hand, seasonal content marketing also has key advantages:

  • There’s far less competition. The above model assumed that an equal number of businesses would participate in evergreen and seasonal content marketing, and in an equal and balanced way. However, since evergreen content is easier and hypothetically more valuable, many businesses opt for an evergreen-only strategy. This makes seasonal content a more specific, and much less competitive niche—giving you more opportunities for unique topics and original angles. 
  • News and fads get more attention. There’s no way to empirically prove that news and trends get more attention than their evergreen topical counterparts since there can never be an apples-to-apples comparison; however, publishing a piece of news will generally appeal to an audience more than publishing a topic they’ve seen hundreds of times already. News and seasonal pieces have a natural tendency to stand out, giving you more value upon initial publication.
  • Seasonal content shows present relevance. Publishing seasonal content also proves that your company is living “in the moment” and paying attention to what’s happening around it. Posting an article about winter preparation in winter, for example, shows that you’re trying to respond actively to present customer needs. Posting about industry news, by a similar token, shows that you’re up-to-date on the latest industry trends, which is a major boon for your brand reputation.

A Hybrid Approach

Because both sides have inherent advantages over the other, it’s restrictive to opt for only one type of content – and who’s to say you have to in the first place? Why not opt for a hybrid model: one that takes advantage of both types of content for a mutually beneficial goal. For example, you could dedicate 75 percent of your strategy to evergreen content, while reserving the other 25 for seasonally rotating content, and material that draws on news and trends.

This breakdown is only one example; how you split your content depends on your audience’s preferences, your competitive market, and of course, your brand. Measure the performance of evergreen and seasonal pieces you’ve written in the past, survey your audience, and create an editorial calendar that incorporates both kinds of content to support your strategy.

How does your content balance out? Let us know in the comments!

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Comments

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Danny
Danny
Hi Larry, cool post and an interesting topic to discuss.

I think you're definitely right. I'll admit that I've bounced from blog posts just from seeing an old publish date and assuming that the content is seasonal and therefore no longer relevant.

I think it is possible to turn some seasonal content somewhat evergreen though. To take the example of SEO predictions for 2011 that you used, if that sort of post is going to be a yearly thing, then rather than creating a completely new post for each year, just update that existing post to then become "SEO Predictions for 2012". Thus making the page relevant again, and also allowing it to continue to build on exisitng authority rather than starting from scratch.
Larry Alton
Danny
Thanks for the comment Danny! I like your suggestion on revamping old seasonal content to make it relevant again. It's definitely good advice for someone trying to build their site authority.
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