Who are you writing your blog posts for … people or search engines? Depending on your intended audience your posts can and should be radically different in tone and style. This concept is related to my my post on how to choose keywords for your blog posts. When you write a post or article on your blog you have to decide am I writing this for “today” and my short term day-to-day audience, or am I writing this as a long term evergreen content? While you are ultimately writing for people in both cases, how your intended audience will find your post matters. Your choice will result in the post taking an entirely different path, have entirely different language, and create an entirely different end product.
Up until a few years journalists and writers were taught and came in with the mindset that once a book, magazine, or newspaper article was written it was “cast in stone” so to speak. While libraries had microfilm, and archives, some even had electronic databases, the general public didn’t have easy access to “old” information. Sure you could go to the library and take out last years issue of “Gourmet Magazine“, but the consumer had to take that action. Now with the advent of google and other search engines these archives are a lot easier to access. If you as a web publisher want this traffic, you need to change your mindset. Gone are the days of writing pithy titles that are witty and clever, now you need to write your titles and posts anticipating the search engine queries of users.
There are tons of “news websites” (and I use that term loosely) who exist and do make a decent amount of money, for example look at the homepage of sites like techmeme and AOL. But these sites are chasing a different type of traffic, they are chasing “now” traffic, and by and large earn money from a CPM advertising model. This is why so many of them fall into the page view journalism trap. The only way to make more money is with more page views, it doesn’t matter if post matches the sites core topic, as long as it brings eyeballs. Put another way their traffic and income are directly related to the traffic they bring in “today”, and they need to to bring in a consistent level of traffic day after day. This is one reason why these are mostly multi-author websites. If you are a single author website, and you take a day off, spend time with your family, go on vacation, your income takes a nose dive.
On the other end of the spectrum are the evergreen content publishers. They miss the hustle and bustle, and burst traffic that comes from covering something like an apple developers conference, the release of a new iphone, or covering the latest insane lunatic ravings that Eric Schmidt makes on a regular basis at press events. However unless they target these evergreen posts around keywords with a decent Adsense payout or around affiliate programs, it’s traffic without monetary value.
While the traffic may persist, for years, and not require daily updating, that doesn’t mean it’s maintenance free. Even evergreen content needs to be evaluated regularly with a content audit (see how often should I update evergreen content). Especially now that google is getting better and more aggressive about showing dates in the SERPS. IMHO you need a strategy that keeps your posts dates less than 1 year old for evergreen content (posts that aren’t evergreen should show their true age). Additionally you need to keep some “old” posts, because nothing says reputable like a blog/website with 5 years of consistent archives.
My suggestion, use a hybrid model between news, current, present, and “today” posts, but also publish evergreen content. The exact ratio depends on your website, but I like to stay around the 80/20 model: 80 percent evergreen 20 percent current events. However I like to go on vacation a lot, and sit poolside, so I work really hard to set up low maintenance, passive income websites (see how I manage a wordpress website). For those of you truly curious, I made the shift here about 2 years ago to the hybrid model, with a lot more emphasis on evergreen posts on this website.
So what are the take aways from this post:
- Decide what type of website you want to run, and what type of posts are you going to publish
- Present day, news, and current events bring traffic but are hard to monetize with anything other than CPM advertising
- Evergreen websites are easier to run, but often lack excitement, and traffic bursts
- A hybrid model can give you the best of both worlds
- Focus your evergreen posts around keywords and topics with high advertising revenue and affiliate offers
- Categorize your evergreen posts so you can retweet/push them in social media channels (see how to tweet from your archives)
- Remember even evergreen posts need to be updated from time to time, and don’t forget to change the date when you do for maximum benefit