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PHOTO: David Pisnoy

Sometimes a piece of content requires no marketing, attracting ample attention through organic search traffic. This valuable content, called evergreen content, eliminates the need for spending on media to gain customer attention.

Other content can be moved into evergreen territory with an update. This content, called renewal content, can expand search optimization around keyword phrases, strengthen the online presence of a brand, and expand the customer experience through associated media. 

Identifying evergreen and renewal content can help you allocate marketing resources and understand what is working and what can work with a little marketing effort.

Identifying Evergreen and Renewal Content

Not every piece of content becomes evergreen or even renewable. So marketers must separate content into three categories:

  • Evergreen  — The content customers discover repeatedly over time as they research a product or service.  
  • Renewal  — Content that is outdated but could . interest among an audience via updates or a digital marketing campaign.
  • Wasted — Content that would require too much rework to reach renewal status and may need replacing (or should be left alone — more on that in a bit).

A few analytics report metrics help in identifying which content falls under which bucket. To start, navigate to a pages report in the web analytics solution for your website. In Google Analytics you can use the "all content" report or the "landing pages" report for guidance (Note: you can navigate to similar page reports in other web analytics solutions, such as Adobe Analytics and Matomo Analytics). The report should rank the number of visits (or number of page views) each blog page received.   

If you create a bar graph of posts by visits or page views, you would likely see the long tail that develops outside of the top 10 or 20 posts (the bar chart below shows an example). 

evergreen renewal chart

The top posts are evergreen, attracting the lion’s share of visits or page views, mostly coming in through search traffic.  

Look closely at the pages that rank outside the top five visits or page views — these are likely renewal content candidates. (Note: you can make your “top pages” a longer list depending on the number of pages your site contains.) 

Related Article: Is Your Business Producing Wasted Content?

Digging Deeper Into Renewal Content

You will want to look at secondary metrics for any posts you identify as potential renewal opportunities. The secondary metrics you can use any of the following:

  • Higher than average session durations — This can indicate people are reading these posts. You want to see a significant difference (e.g., 10% higher is a reasonable guesstimate) but something close to the average can be acceptable. In the example table below, Blogpost 7 has a higher than average session (4:34 vs. the 3:21 average), while Blogpost 8 is close to average. Both have significantly less page views, but they may be potential candidates for renewal. 

pageview session table

  • Pages per session that register at or above 1.5 pages/session — This can indicate these posts are encouraging readers to examine other content within the site.
  • Higher than average conversions — This is the same logic as sessions or pages, with an implication that the post can potentially raise conversion rates even more with further investment. (In Google Analytics, conversions appear on the Landing Page report. You can use the Page Value column in the All Pages report for similar guidance).

Select the secondary metric that makes sense for your goals. If you are looking to increase readership for your blog, you'll want to use the session durations or pages per session as engagement signals. Conversion rates would help if you're looking to boost conversion activity, like registrations or a purchase.

Review how these posts rank over time — you can review the results in 30 day, 60 day and 90 day periods. Evergreen pages with significant volume will consistently rank with minimal change. Renewal posts will show some change in view or visit rank, but you should still see secondary metrics value increase over time as well.

Related Article: How to Create Content With Purpose

Give Your Content a Second Life

Once you determine a renewal content post, review that page’s content and think of ways you can add to or enhance what's there. You can then support the evergreen posts in a number of ways. You can select a dedicated marketing campaign, such as a shared “In Case You Missed This” social media post or a digital ad campaign that emphasizes another angle in the content.

This process should be an efficient way to evaluate your content. Your list of content that can be reused will save you content creation time or might inspire a new life in video format. 

Content that is deemed “wasted” can be ignored — but you should leave those page live to avoid the SEO work required to address a removed page. Save addressing those pages till it's time for the next website redesign.

The key takeaway is to identify evergreen and renewable content, using signs of life among secondary metrics, to improve the return on your content and to best manage your overall marketing budget.