3 Ways to Keep Website from Dying a Slow, Unremarkable Death
Fresh, relevant content keeps your website from sinking into obscurity
“Roll over and play dead.” It’s an awesome trick to teach your dog, but you probably don’t want that for your website. Yet that’s what you might be training it to do with most of your content generation efforts or lack thereof.
What happens to a bucket of water sitting out in your backyard? It stagnates. Gross things start growing in it, and it gets stinky. You might think the analogy between stale content and a bucket full of slime doesn’t quite cut it – but you have to agree that neither is attractive.
While discarding the gross water in the bucket is your best solution, it’s not necessary to get rid of stagnant content. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Create evergreen content
We know; you don’t write content for search engines. But search engines do get to decide to make it discoverable. Google, Bing, and other search engines have a preference for evergreen content.
Why? Trends have expiration dates. Fads can be a flash and done. It gets stale.
Meanwhile, evergreen content is lasting and sustainable. It highlights a topic that remains relevant to searchers. It’s often informational and educational, and the most effective evergreen content contains succinct text that can be used in the form of an answer when someone asks a related question.
This type of content can help you hit a home run. Created appropriately, it can become a Google Featured Snippet.
Content featured this way receives more clicks from organic search results without higher Google rankings. You want this because you know what paying for highly ranked keywords is costly. A Google Featured Snippet can garner up to 8% of all clicks.
Popular evergreen content examples include:
- How-to guides
Here’s an example. Back in 2009, the American Egg Board posted How to Fry an Egg. A Google Search for “how to fry an egg” will provide you with about 183 million results, with this piece of content in one of the top three non-paid positions.
Highly topical content will garner a spike of visits and the resulting shares. Attention will shift. Your content will no longer be relevant, and traffic will dry up.
Evergreen content generates regular organic traffic, without spikes or drop-offs.
2. Become a content-cranking machine
For goodness' sake, it’s 2020. Why aren’t you using a content calendar yet?
One of the most powerful benefits of a content calendar is that it helps you visualize this asset. You can determine what you have that’s either working or not, as well as what’s missing. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Whether it’s new content or not, you’ve got to make sure it’s set up to be discoverable so search engines will understand its relevance and recommend it.
Stoney G. deGeyter, VP Search and Advertising at The Karcher Group, tells Search Engine Journal that optimization is key. “I still have posts that I wrote more than 10 years ago getting substantial traffic. They just happen to have been optimized for a set of long-tail phrase that still gets actively searched,” he says.
You can lengthen the life of content when you:
- Link it to other relevant content
- Redirect it to new content related to the subject
- Repurpose it, so content finds an expanded audience
- Refresh it
This last suggestion often offers the biggest bang for the buck. Your best performing content – often called “cornerstone content” – might be as close to evergreen as you can get. Updating this content reintroduces it to search engines that want to offer relevance more than anything else. This effort can be an easy way to double your traffic.
Freshen your metadata when you update an existing piece of content. This is where search engines gain their initial understanding of your website page’s intent. Your title and headline tags can impact ranking if they’re unclear.
In this case, “unclear” often means they have more entertainment value than relevance to the subject. Make them obvious.
Refresh your content meta descriptions at this time, as well. They don’t necessarily have true SEO value, but you’re not writing them for search engines. A good meta description is what convinces a searcher to click on the link. Likewise, consider testing a variety of meta descriptions if you’re confident that your content is relevant, but you’re not seeing traction.
3. Beyond content – refresh your website
Content comprises the majority of what attracts people to your website, and new or revised content is what keeps them coming back. A content creation strategy that yields the right blend of evergreen, refreshed, and new information helps you attract new customers and continue to delight existing ones.
A virtual coat of fresh paint doesn’t hurt, either. Make design decisions based on input about your user experience instead of aesthetics. In some respects, members of your organization are too close to the subject.
You’re looking at it every day, and it’s bound to become boring. It’s better to ensure that visitors leave intending to return because of the value you’ve provided.
Nobody understands this better than Google. The search engine giant has repeatedly tweaked its logo design. However, the overall look and feel – especially of its homepage – has remained virtually unchanged since 1996.
What’s going on under the hood should be your aim for enhancement. Besides making sure that everything’s still working (when have you checked every single page?) and up to date, take advantage of tools that allow you to research your competition. What are they doing that you should be doing, too?
“Familiarity breeds contempt,” said Chaucer way back in 1386. It can kill traffic to your website, too. Not the type of familiarity that comes from comfort, but the familiarity resulting from knowing there’s nothing new. And nothing screams this louder than stagnant content.
Content is the most effective way to continually prove your value and relevance to prospects, customers, and search engines.
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