About.com Is Gone, but Its Evergreen Content Will Persevere
Anybody who's used the internet in the past two decades has likely visited About.com. A giant in the early days of the web, About.com was an amalgam of all types of educational content, from "how-to" home improvement articles to pre-WebMD health advice. Even after Google fundamentally changed how content was accessed on the web, About.com continued to thrive because it followed the number-one rule for ranking well: provide valuable content.
But times have changed. Social media is now the number one way people access media sites, and large, catch-all content hubs like MSN, AOL and Yahoo are struggling to compete with more niche, targeted sites.
This week, About.com officially closed it's doors and re-branded into a parent company that will oversee several different sites with much narrower focuses. While this provides a lesson about branding in the current internet climate, there's also an important takeaway for any company developing their content strategy: evergreen content can continue to provide value for years. Because About.com will use much of their old content on their new niche sites, it just goes to show the power of creating content that stays relevant long into the future.
About.com is Now Dotdash
To achieve more focused branding and stay competitive, About.com developed several niche sites that are now owned and operated by new parent company, Dotdash, which will not be a consumer-facing brand. The About.com URL has been retired. As for the new sites, they each host content that centers on a more specific topic:
- VeryWell.com - Health and fitness
- TheSpruce.com - Home decor and improvement
- Lifewire.com - Technology news and tutorials
- TheBalance.com - Financial advice
- ThoughtCo.com - Educational content
- TripSavvy (Coming Soon) - Vacation and travel
Each of the new sites has a design and content strategy that's tailored to more specific audiences, and Dotdash hopes to use some of these sites to foster affiliate sales as well.
Evergreen Content is Playing a Huge Role
Despite all the changes in delivery and branding, one aspect of this situation remains constant and is the key element that Dotdash's success hinges on: the content. Indeed, much of the content from About.com will end up on the new sites with some updates and edits. About.com had a wealth of excellent Health content, for instance, that will now end up on VeryWell.com. As Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel told Fortune:
"The content was still incredibly good, because a lot of it was written by experts...We had 60 MDs that wrote for us, we had travel stuff that was written by people who lived in these places, dozens of personal finance experts. I figured if we could fix the tech and the look, we might get something advertisers might want to advertise on."
VeryWell.com, launched in 2016, has already seen traffic increase from 12 million unique visitors per month to 17 million. And while these kinds of traffic numbers are not attainable for everyone, businesses of any size can benefit from the same strategy on a smaller scale. The lesson here is that evergreen content can continue to bring you traffic, leads, sales and ad revenue years and potentially even decades later - as long as your methods of marketing and designing that content adapt with the times.
Types of Evergreen Content
Content that will continue to benefit your business in the long haul often includes:
- Original research
- Case studies
- Beginner how-to guides and videos
- Advanced how-to guides and videos
- Lists of resources and tools
- "Common mistakes" in a specific industry
- History of a topic
- Textbook-like coverage of a topic
The secret to monetizing your evergreen content involves making sure it's expertly written and that it's the best content available for that topic. Continuing to market it and distribute it where possible - just like Dotdash has done - gives you a resource you can leverage for years to come.