Older ManYou don’t need more content. You need old content. I know, that’s not what you usually hear, so stick with me.

Old content is the real king of content marketing. It’s why established publishers still have a huge advantage. It is why new successful publications like Huffington Post or Copyblogger really aren’t all that new.

Better content isn’t enough when your competitors have good old content.

Old content is the reason content marketing takes so much time, in months or years of calendar time, not in hours of effort, to reach its potential. And it is why you need to start now, before all of your competitors get their old content established.

How big of a difference does old content make? Let’s look at it two different ways.

1. Search Results

Below are organic search results for three B2B marketing oriented searches.

Buying B2B Email Lists Search Results

buying b2b email lists search results

B2B Advertising Search Results

b2b advertising search results

B2B Marketing Strategy Search Results

b2b marketing strategies google search

Here’s how the 29 first page results break down:

  • Only 6 are current pages (content from within about the last month or fixed pages for this year, such as current award pages)
  • 8 are between 1 month and 1 year old.
  • 15 of the first page search results are for pages that are more than a year old!

More than half of the search results were for content that is more than a month old, and less than 25% was for current content!

Age was determined using a variety of factors for pages that were not dated, including the content of the page itself, for instance pages referring to the beta launch of Google+ would have been labeled old, and the age of the domain for home pages or product pages. There are likely some pages that have been updated, such as homepages or product pages, within the last year that would be labeled old in this analysis, however most of them likely existed before and have simply been refreshed.

2. Increased Site Traffic

Not only does old content continue to capture search traffic, the library of content you have created over the years will become a key driver of traffic and growth. This is the real reason why it takes calendar time for your inbound or content marketing program to deliver on its full potential.

Below is a chart showing the growth in traffic for this blog (B2B Digital Marketing, in case you are reading this elsewhere). The chart shows monthly page views, split between new and old content.

Old Content Traffic Growth

In 20 months, monthly pageviews on new content increased by 130%. In contrast, monthly pageviews on old content increased nearly 10x!

For 8 of the last 9 months, old content represented more than twice as many pageviews as new content. And it started at a fraction of current content pageviews 20 months ago. (The blog was already 8 months old, there was plenty of modestly older content available then.)

Even though the number of monthly posts has dropped, and with that, the monthly work that goes into publishing, traffic continues to steadily increase. This is the advantage of older content, in action.

A Cautionary Note

Does this mean quality doesn’t matter? Promotion doesn’t matter? Design doesn’t matter? Video doesn’t matter? Of course it still matters!

Everyone can, and will, follow the content marketing advice of the day. But old content is the one thing you cannot just create. It doesn’t matter how impatient you are, it takes time for your content to age.

Your Turn

Do you put enough value on old content and the advantage it provides? Share your opinion on the value of old content in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: moodboardphotography via Flickr cc