What is the content lifecycle of a perfect post? This is a question most content marketers ask themselves regularly. And, sadly, there’s no simple answer. The lifecycle of a piece of content depends, not only on the type of content you create or your industry, but on the topic you’re addressing.
That being said, the content lifecycle is long. Content you create can remain relevant (and drive traffic) for years to come. In fact, recent research by Ahrefs shows that nearly 60% of all content on page one of Google is three years old or more. This means with the right process and a little hard work, content marketers can extend their content lifecycle years into the future.
How exactly do we set our content up for longterm success?
Stage 1: Validate Your Idea through Search
In order to set your content up for a long life, you’ll want to start by verifying your content idea through keyword research. Starting with keyword research is the single best way to ensure your content is set up to drive organic traffic. If you research the popularity of the topic you’re planning to write about and find that people are searching for it, you’ll know your content has some legs to stand on.
If you’re stumped for where to start, check out our step-by-step guide, How to do Keyword Research.
Stage 2: Optimize Your Post for Internal & External Audiences
At this point, we move onto the actual content creation phase of this process. Plenty has been said about creating great content, so we’ll just summarize. Consider best UX practices for content as you format your post to make sure it’s discoverable and digestible. Keep your content straightforward. Remember, people are searching for answers and information. To have the longest life, your content should answer their questions and provide the information they’re looking for early on. And, of course, don’t forget to optimize your content based on SEO best practices.
Looking to create evergreen content? Check out our guide, Evergreen Content: How to Build an Evergreen Content Strategy.
Stage 3: Pick the Perfect Content Placement
Next step is to decide where to show off your content. Company blog or resource center? Should you send it to an influential industry publication? How will you leverage your social assets? So many choices, and the one you pick will have an impact on the success of your content.
There are benefits to placing your content in each of these locations. While an industry publication might help get your content in front of new audiences, having your content on your website helps drive traffic back to your site. No matter where you decide to publish your content, keep distribution top of mind. Too often, content marketers forget to have a distribution plan in place before publish, and then have to scramble to set up a strategy after the fact.
Stage 4: Push Your Content Live
Take a look at your data and decide what day is right for publish. Do you have any distribution channels you can use the week of publish? For example, maybe your weekly newsletter goes out on Fridays. Keep these considerations in mind as you pick your publish date and send your content live.
Schedule your post for publish, and then start working on your social media strategy for distributing it. You can schedule out some tweets the day of, freeing yourself up to monitor the conversation around your piece of content on the day of publish.
Stage 5: Get on Social
After you publish your post, you’ll want to monitor conversations around your content on social media. This way, you’ll see when one of your connections shares it on LinkedIn. Maybe it picks up a bunch of momentum when an industry rock star tweets out your post. Either way, you’ll want to be there to monitor how people react to what you’ve written. You can take feedback from what you see and hear on social media and channel it back into improving your content.
Next thing you know, your content starts to rank on search engines and the organic traffic starts to pour in.
Stage 6: Evaluate How it’s Performing for Search
Once you’ve given your piece of content a chance to start ranking and drive organic traffic, make sure to revisit it. Ask yourself, are you driving organic traffic to your content? Are you ranking for your target keywords? Whether you have the capabilities of monitoring this or you have to run through your SEO team, you’ll want to get some metrics on your organic performance on an ongoing basis. By measuring your content, you’ll be able to continually make your content more discoverable.
After all, you may be able to make slight tweaks or changes to it to bolster the SEO strength of your content that would increase the lifecycle of your piece.
Stage 7: Deploy New Strategies and Tactics
After your piece is already out, iterate on your distribution strategies. What worked for you after publish? Should you repeat your process? Did you launch a successful paid social media campaign that you can extend? Is there a link building strategy you could revisit? Keep a record of what worked for you in the past, and continue to invest in distribution strategies.
If you’ve run out of budget for paid initiatives and are struggling to launch new distribution strategies, revisit the SEO strength of your piece. A well-optimized piece of content can accrue traffic to your site for years without any additional financial investment.
Stage 8: Know When the Content Lifecycle Is Over
Despite our best efforts, not every piece of content we write will live on forever. You may decide that an older piece of content no longer has value to your audience, or is no longer consistent with your brand. Before you toss any older content out with the bath water, evaluate whether or not it can be updated and republished. Many articles you write could have a second life if you give them a little TLC.
If you do decide to sunset a piece of content, make sure you redirect it to another page on your site. The content lifecycle may be over for this piece, but there’s plenty of other pieces you can focus your time and energy on.
The Secret to Extending the Content Lifecycle
The content lifecycle may vary piece by piece, but by following the above steps you’ll be able to extend your content’s life for much longer. When it comes down to it, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s rare for a piece of content to grow in value without putting additional work in. The lifecycle of your content is within your control. Wield that power wisely.