Evergreen content has immense value to your firm’s content marketing, continuing to drive traffic, engagement and leads for an extended period of time. But even the greenest of evergreen content will eventually start to become less relevant, making them potentially more of a liability than an asset.

If your firm has been blogging and creating content for some time, you likely have evergreen content with varying degrees of fatigue. In fact, it might even be some of your best performing content. So how should you handle evergreen content when it starts to show age? Here are some thoughts.

Perform a content audit

The starting point for understanding what evergreen content is “distressed” is understanding what content you have in the first place. Take an inventory of all the content on your blog, your premium content (e.g. white papers, eBooks, on-demand webinars, etc.), automated emails (lead nurturing drips, triggered emails, etc.) and any other content being used in your content marketing program. You’ll want to take note of the publish date, the author and the topic.

Review for relevancy
Once you’ve compiled a list of all your content assets, you should review each asset by considering all angles of the content, including the topic, topic, images, statistics, links and the copy as well. Start with the oldest content first and review for current usefulness and relevancy, taking note of just how (out)dated each asset is. This is going to be critical as you determine the required action moving forward (see #2).

Review for performance
Next, identify what content is driving the most traffic, generating the most engagement and ultimately leading to the most conversions (as well as content that is falling flat). Consider basic consumption metrics such as page views, average time on page, opens, views, downloads, etc., but also look at inbound links, shares, comments, bounce rate and other indicators of engagement. Lastly, look at conversion-related performance, which will differ based on the content format (blog vs. eBook vs. email).

Categorize according to required action and priority

After you’ve evaluated all the content, you’ll want to take that into account and classify each asset according to four primary categories of required action: respect (no changes needed), refresh (very minor tweaks), rework (significant changes required) or retire (no longer useful). Another thing to consider is assigning priority to each required action. Content that falls into the retire and rework categories might need to be dealt with ahead of content in the refresh category. However, if you have content that falls into the refresh category that is high-performing, or deals with important and/or popular topics, it may be beneficial to make that content a top priority.

Refresh the “oldie but goodie” content

The first category of updates falls into the category of refresh and will likely be your largest category of content. This content category is still very relevant, with 80-90% of it good as is. What’s needed is a close look at freshening up anything that has aged, such as statistics or research. If the asset is in the form of a list, see if all the items are still relevant, or if anything is missing or needs to be tweaked. You’re not changing for the sake of change, but look for any aspect of the content that could be updated. For blog posts, try to avoid changing the title and url, so as not to negatively impact SEO.

Rework any content that still has some use

Content that falls under the category of rework still has some value, but needs more than a simple update. The general topic may still be relevant, but much of the content itself needs to be reworked. There may be sections of copy that are largely usable, but others will require fairly significant rewriting or new sections altogether. Rather than starting from scratch, content in this category gives you the opportunity to leverage existing content in order to create something new and more relevant (while getting rid of content that has become stale). When possible, try to maintain the same title and url, but depending on how extensive the rework, that may not be possible. When changing the url, be sure to put a 301 redirect in place to avoid 404 errors.

Retire content that’s simply no longer relevant

While likely a minority of cases, there may be some content that can’t be reworked. Perhaps the topic has become outdated or obsolete (e.g. a top ten list from 2013), or for one reason or another, it just doesn’t belong on your blog or in your content portfolio. In some cases, a post may still have SEO value, but the content (and its irrelevancy) doesn’t have human value and may not put your firm’s best foot forward. Whatever the reason may be, if refresh or rework aren’t options—as a last resort—its best to retire the content altogether. Any landing page or blog post that gets deleted from your website should absolutely have a 301 redirect to something related put in place.

Plan these updates into your content calendar

Now that you’ve properly inventoried, assessed and categorized your content, based on the determined priority, work the updated content into your editorial calendar. The good news is, updating existing content takes significantly less time than creating something entirely new. So work in the updates where it makes sense topically, but also take into account schedules, resources and other marketing priorities. Weeks with holidays, vacations and without other critical deadlines would be ideal for working in refreshed and even reworked content.

Resolve to keep your evergreen content fresh

Fresh, relevant content packs a two-fold punch: it’s great for your readers and it’s also great for search engines. A lot of effort goes into creating content in the first place, so it’s important to maximize the shelf life and longevity of your content by periodically auditing, reviewing and updating your content along the way.