Reblossoming Content: Transforming Events Pages from Transitory to Evergreen

A local environmental group in my area does a wonderful job of showing off information about upcoming events. Their calendar of “events to come” include things like an Annual Land Trust Conference, a local food forum addressing initiatives to get people to buy food locally to benefit the region economically and environmentally, an educational program about sharing the area with bears, and many others.

The announcements provide details about what will be covered at these conferences and gatherings, and for some of the larger events, information on how to become a sponsor, how to register, as well as information about travel and dining and accomodations.

Once the date of an event has come and gone, pages about it disappear from the site completely, as if it never happened.

I’ve seen local tourism sites produce newsletters filled with information about events, with extensive archives of those newsletters on their pages. The newsletters often link to about a dozen or so events pages each month, and those pages would describe the “who, what, where, when, and why,” of each.

The events range from conferences to festivals to exhibitions to parades, and many other going-ons in the area, attracting visitors from a good distance away. If you browse through the years of the newsletter archives, the links to events that happened more than 6 months ago mostly lead to dead pages.

My town hosts a number of annual parades and happenings every year, and shows off a paragraph or so about each on the front page of their web site, starting a month or so before the date of each event. The lifespan of these announcements is numbered in weeks, and any history of those community gatherings lives on only in the minds and possibly the photographs of those attending.

The World Wide Web Conference brings researchers, business people, technologists and many others together to a different location every year. The 18th annual conference took place in Madrid in April. Instead of having one web site for the conference, a new one is created annually. Trying to find information about past conferences can be difficult – many of the sites hosting information about older conferences have disappeared from the Web completely.

Here today and Useless Tomorrow?

What if the environmental group, the tourism site, the town home page, and the international conference took a different approach? What kinds of benefits might they see if they planned upon revisiting the pages or information about their gatherings and used them to make a record of those events, to share information about what happened, to show off photos and meeting minutes or summaries, and personal reflections about those activities?

The environmental group might be able to spread their messages further, to people who couldn’t attend and inform a much wider audience. Visitors to their web site could learn about initiatives in the area and ways to participate even though they weren’t able to be physically present.

The tourism site, focusing upon bringing people to the region, could show off past events to attract future visitors.

The town web pages could help build a sense of community, help newcomers learn about local history and traditions and become a place where people outside of the region could learn more about them.

If the Conference used one site instead of a new one every year, it could provide a repository of white papers and learning to those who couldn’t cross the globe to be at the different conferences in person. Those pages could provide a clear look at the evolution of research over the years to those who could use that information to learn and innovate and grow.

Evergreen and Transitory Information

The term “evergreen content” is sometimes used by site owners and designers to refer to pages that contain information that continues to remain informative and useful over time. Pages about how to knot a tie or play a musical instrument or design a web site might be useful to someone who comes across those pages years after they are written.

Other pages on the Web can have a more limited lifespan, providing a quick look at the news of the day or information about an activity that may be taking place sometime in the future. Many pages about events are created from a transitory perspective.

But they don’t have to be, and planning ahead to transform such pages to new uses can often result in richer and more useful web sites.

Some things to consider to make web pages about events reblossom from transitory to evergreen might be:

1. Find ways to involve participants and give them the opportunity to record events through photos and videos and blogs and interviews.

2. Approach events as a reporter and share some of the who, what, where, why, when, and how with those who couldn’t participate.

3. Create continuality as a local historian, and share information about traditions and community.

4. Develop anticipation in those visitors who come to the pages after the event took place so that they would be more likely to attend future events.

5. Provide information in the form of transcripts of speeches or collections of white papers or in other ways that can make events timeless instead of forgotten.

6. Have a vision of how your web pages will evolve from “before” to “after” an event to do things like keeping as many of the same web page addresses, or URLs, on your site for each of those events, and use the same site for future events.

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14 thoughts on “Reblossoming Content: Transforming Events Pages from Transitory to Evergreen”

  1. Another great post…I’m trying to figure out how to repurpose some content and you just gave me some great ideas. Thanks!

  2. Okay if you develop ‘evergreen’ or whatever kind of content just hide the freaking URL date because someone looking for ‘evergreen content’ is more likely to click someone who written that post in 2009 than 2008. Just an advice for webmasters out there ;P

  3. Hi Finder Mind,

    Many people who try to create evergreen content attempt to avoid including dates in what they create to avoid the impression of the material being dated. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, though it can be a little frustrating as a reader of that content if you do want to get an idea of the age of the article or page.

    In providing evergreen information about past events, the opposite might hold true. It might be a benefit to actually include a date in the URL or URLs, especially if the event is one that happens on a periodic basis, such as a yearly festival or an annual parade. What would make this information worth viewing even after the event could be how captures a historical record of the event, or provides actionable information that can be used in the future.

    Imagine someone creating a site about the history of Baseball’s World Series, with a richly detailed historical set of pages about each year of the series. Including dates in the URLs for those pages could help search engines index them better, and help visitors understand the structure of the site they are viewing more easily.

    Now imagine someone doing the same for their local jazz festival every year. Each event page that has been transformed after the event could contain detailed information about the performers, about what happened at the performances, and possibly even include some audio from the performances. To use an example, the people running the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival provide details about their upcoming 21st annual festival, but the actual history of the festival has been lost over time. It’s a remarkable and free concert series which has included some great musicians, but you wouldn’t know it from their web site. If they included images, information, audio, and video from past festivals, you could possibly spend many hours on their pages, especially if you liked jazz. And people visiting the site would be more likely to attend, and to donate to help keep the festival free.

  4. Great point Bill. I never thought about some of the situations you provided. So it really depends on seeing the page as a whole.

  5. Hi Finder Mind,

    Yes, and it depends upon delivering value to visitors regardless of whether or not the underlying event that initially triggered the creation of a page has long since past.

  6. Some great ideas there Bill. We often use event pages as part of our content strategy for client sites. Usually with the information becomes out of date we simply retire the page. But, by modifying the page to become a historical account of the event and a useful resource, it could continue to add value for years to come.

  7. Hi Bullaman,

    Thank you. Transforming those types of pages really can add value to the sites they are on for a very long time after the event has happened.

    I’ve visited a lot of pages on sites that primarily focus on having links out to news sources and events pages, and it’s painful to see how many broken links end up on those pages. They can quickly go from being interesting and informative to frustrating, as every link you click upon leads to a “no longer here” error message.

    That’s not good for visitors to those pages, and it’s not good for search engines who may be less inclined to include those types of pages in search results since they lead to so many broken links. Having events pages that keep value after the event is over can help those news and event announcement pages keep value as well.

  8. Engines like WordPress or Blogger are really good for these “evergreen” posts, since it’s really easy to archive your old work. With the ubiquity of webspace today, it never hurts to leave something up for posterity–who knows who might find it interesting or useful! Finder Mind has a point though, depending on the information I’m looking for, I’m more likely to click on a newer post than an older one.

  9. Hi jhz,

    I don’t think that it’s the blogging software that makes a difference in creating “evergreen” posts as much as it is the approach to presenting the material so that it continues to have value after being written or presented. Actually, I’ve seen a few people writing that the dates attached to a blog post might create the impression that a blog post might be dated, because its old. While I understand their apprehension, if a post is written to present material in a way that continues to convey value, that date shouldn’t be too much of a hinderance.

  10. I have found that posting news items as blogs post isn’t a very evergreen technique. I have received tons of traffic initially only to watch it fade away after about a week.

    I try to write about tried and true techniques and use timeless information in all of my posts on all of my blogs.

    Funny side point. Isn’t this blog…SEOBYTHESEA…kind of a before and after event scenario as you describe in this post? Didn’t you create it around an event near the sea somewhere??? ;)

    Mark

  11. Hi Mark,

    I do have a few posts that tend to get a lot of return traffic months and even years after I’ve published it. Many of the patent posts seem to be rediscovered when something they’ve described suddenly becomes more relevant.

    This blog initially was created to be a short term site, created as an announcement of an informal internet marketing gathering. It’s almost 6 years and 1,000 posts later. After the event ended, I continued writing about other things, and people kept on coming to the site, so I kept on writing. :)

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