Oct. 18, 2017 by Sara Jabbari
Why You Need a Mix of Topical and Evergreen Videos
When it comes to video, there are essentially two categories it can fall into: topical or evergreen. In order to know which category your video belongs to, you need to ask yourself one simple, yet important question: does my content have an expiration date? This will determine whether your content will be interesting or relevant a year from now, and depending on your answer, you’ll know which content is bringing visitors to your site, and which keeps them returning to it.
What is topical content?
Topical content is typically event-based content that relates to something current or trending. Because they are generally “buzz-worthy,” topical videos have the potential to become viral and can quickly generate a spike in traffic to your website or channel. You generally see this type of content being shared on social media (as trending topics on Twitter or on YouTube's front page of your home country) receiving millions of views, and providing publishers with immediate exposure, and potentially a huge revenue opportunity.
However, because of its contemporary nature, topical video has a short life span and loses its relevance or usefulness over time. As a result, it becomes dated, unable to translate that short-term traffic into long-term growth.
Most topical content is news-related, focusing on current events, industry or company news; it can be statistical, using recent data that will likely change or go out of date; or it can focus on the latest trends. For example, a video on the last U.S. presidential election or the latest viral trend (think mannequin challenge, running man, etc.) can become very popular, but eventually loses its relevance, unlikely to be searched, and watched, a few months down the line. Examples of publishers that produce a large volume of topical videos include Fox News, NC News and E! News, as they focus on the latest and rotating political, local or entertainment news.
What is evergreen content?
Evergreen content on the other hand is always fresh, just like evergreen trees which it was named after. This type of content is generally of high-quality and informative in nature, able to remain relevant and interesting long past its publication. Because evergreen content can stand the test of time, it is able to bring traffic consistently to your site for months or even years into the future. Evergreen content can also often be reformatted, repurposed and reused at a later time.
Evergreen content is abundant and comes in many forms. Some examples include explainer or how-to videos, educational videos, testimonials, case studies, lists and biographies, among others. For example, content such as “how to write a blog post”, or a “guide to video publishing”, is long-lasting content that will be useful for a long period of time. Examples of publishers that produce mostly evergreen content include Vice, National Geographic and Food Network, as they focus on less seasonal topics such as culture, art and cuisine.
Which one should you produce?
Both topical and evergreen content have their advantages: topical content can appeal to and build large audiences very quickly, gaining you traffic and rapid monetization, while evergreen content provides timeless value to users, growing that traffic steadily.
Ultimately, the best strategy as a publisher is to have a mix of both. While publishers must report on the latest, time-sensitive news, keywords related to recent news will eventually become obsolete. Publishers will typically have to decide on a maximum age - the number of days before content expires - in order to keep the topical content on their sites constantly up to date, while they have more flexibility with their evergreen content due to its longer lifespan.
In addition, evergreen content, if well described by its metadata and produced by relevant sources, is recognized by search engines as more valuable than dated content, and thus reward it with higher search rankings, regardless of the publication date. Thus, while topical content can achieve temporary popularity and high website traffic, your timeless and highly searchable evergreen content will remain popular with your niche audience, attracting a steady stream of traffic over time.
Producing video is time-consuming and resource-intensive, even if there are tools to help you produce videos on the fly. Content providers therefore shouldn't focus all their energy on stories that will entertain viewers for only a few days, or on ones that might not necessarily give them the bang for their buck. Both topical and evergreen content bring value to your viewers, and your business. If you want to keep your viewers engaged, you need to create and deliver a combination of content that is relevant to today’s, tomorrow’s and the future viewer.