There’s a divide developing between search engine optimized content and shareworthy content. Marketers no longer need to merely consider their content’s intent; they also need to consider their content’s lifetime value. Shareworthy content tends to have a very short shelf life — sometimes as little as 24 hours. Search engine optimized content is aimed towards having a much longer shelf life — usually months, sometimes years. But neither content type is inherently better than the other, and a mix of the two may be appropriate for most.
Shareworthy Content: A Fusillade of Bits and Bytes
Entertainment news websites are the best example of primarily shareworthy content. They achieve traffic and engagement via a continuous fusillade of information. The content burns short and bright: each article may trend only for a matter of hours, but combined they create sustainable traffic. The raw quality of the content isn’t always a primary concern; quantity is more important. But quality is still a consideration.
Most companies cannot keep up a constant stream of content, nor should they. One failing of shareworthy content is that the bulk of the traffic will immediately begin to wane should there be any break in publishing. Shareworthy content is usually so highly specific that it is not usually aimed at bringing in any meaningful traffic from search engines. It can also be difficult to measure the effectiveness of shared content. But that does not mean that it is exclusive of search engine optimization; it only means that this isn’t the principle goal.
Increasing the shelf life of shareworthy content:
- Share content on multiple platforms. Studies have shown that engagement lasts longer on LinkedIn and the shortest on Twitter, but each platform is a new audience.
- Don’t forget your links. Internal linking between pages of your site, from new content to older content, can be used to drive users from current shareworthy articles to prior ones.
- Promote internally. Random posts, top posts, trending posts and archived posts are all ways to drive traffic from current pages to previous pages.
Search Engine Optimized Content: A Slow Build of Momentum
Even well-optimized content will take at least a day or two to gain traction — often much more. SEO content could peak weeks, months or even years after publishing. Through a constant publishing schedule, companies can create building momentum. This momentum will carry the content forward, allowing for more time between publishing. Each piece of content has more room to land and breathe — but by the same token, each piece of content also needs to be of very high quality.
Search engine optimized content is more stable than shareworthy content. Shareworthy content can be very fickle and even expert social marketers are not always able to anticipate the popularity of a content strategy. But search engine optimized content is also highly competitive due to the incredibly high quality of content required.
Increasing the shelf life of search engine optimized content:
- Renew and revise. Your most popular posts and pages won’t stay accurate and timely forever. Update your best performing pages to ensure that they remain at the top.
- Pay attention to the context. If your site’s overall quality goes down, the visibility of all your content will go down. Make sure you curate your content appropriately.
- Get those deep links. Get high authority sites to link to your content from throughout the web by providing valuable, insightful and informative content.
Hybridizing Your Content: Increasing Your Content’s Shelf Life
When investing in content, you may want to consider your content’s lifetime value. What will your content’s shelf life be? What are your content’s goals? How much your company will actually gain from the content once it has been created? There are many strategies for increasing content shelf life. Both shareworthy content and search engine optimized content can become obsolete.
Many content marketing strategies focus on the hybridizing of content; creating content that is both shareworthy and search engine friendly. But either way, the content needs a focus. Is it shareable content with search engine optimization or is it search engine optimized content that is also shareable?
You can do both, but you can’t do both equally. One of the trending articles on Buzzfeed right now is “Man Late To Work Because Of Chupacabra.” A totally shareworthy title — but probably not a top search engine query. Probably not even a long tail query. Naturally, the article is search engine optimized in other ways, but the title shows its primary objective.
Increasing the shelf life of hybridized content:
- Identify the “well, it can’t hurt” areas. Rewriting a title? Probably harmful. Adding a few long tail keywords into the text? Probably inconsequential.
- Play to the content’s strengths. Figure out whether the content works best shared or optimized and begin on that foundation.
- Create complementary content. When one piece of content is doing well, consider creating another piece of related content from a different perspective.
A Question of Focus: When Multitasking Obscures Your Content’s Goals
Hybrid content isn’t always a good idea. After all, most people would study to become a doctor or a lawyer — not both. Doing one thing well is often better than doing two things poorly. Many content marketing strategies will benefit through the creation of focused content in both areas rather than creating individual pieces of content that can be seen both ways.
In the example above, trying to SEO a title can potentially damage its shareworthiness. Likewise, trying to shareworthy a title can damage its optimization. In this case it’s a bit of a peanut butter and jelly scenario: sure they go great together, but the market has spoken: no one wants to buy them in the same jar.
Increasing the shelf life of focused content:
- Cross-integrate your content. Connect share-focused content with SEO-focused content for a more holistic marketing strategy.
- Make sharing a priority. Optimize your website itself to encourage the sharing of all your content, not just shareworthy content.
- Don’t neglect the quality. Low quality but shareworthy content can tank your site’s authority, taking your optimized content with it.
A perfectly search engine optimized, shareworthy piece of content is a marketer’s holy grail: it’s something that we should all pursue, but it just may not always be obtainable. Meanwhile, it may actually be detrimental to our content’s value to try to do too many things with the content at once. It’s often better to understand the goals of each piece of content and its place within your content strategy than to try to shoehorn each piece of content into a single rigorous set of metrics. By playing to your content’s strengths, you can increase its lifetime value and ultimately the value of your campaign as a whole.