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Ephemeral Content - A Once-Popular Flop

Updated on February 28, 2013

Have you ever written an article (or Hub, if on HubPages) online and you noticed how it got popular as the day it gets published a few days (or weeks) later? If you have done so, chances are that over time, the traffic dwindled down sharply (as well as your earnings, if you're writing for profit).

What did you do wrong? Your article or Hub is in proper English, has interesting photos or videos, and have relevant keywords, but why isn't it gaining enough traffic like it did days or weeks ago?

My friend, although you have written good content, the main problem is that yours is dated and it turns out to be old news. What's more - you might be including blatant references to the celebrities of the day or you might be using statistics and figures to support your thesis. Articles or Hubs similar to this in a written manner always gain traffic, but in the short period of time before it dies out.

This is known as ephemeral content - content that is popular for quite a while but then fails to attract any more visitors later. Many experts who write mostly good quality content usually frown at it, mainly because over a period of time, readers lose interest in the recent news or the latest trends.

What Makes Up Ephemeral Content

Simply put, there are some factors that make readers determine if the content is ephemeral. Think of it as a freshly-baked loaf of bread - it comes out of the oven with a pleasant fragrance and flavor, but over time it becomes stale and moldy. If sold, it usually has an expiration date stamped on the bag or package.

Ephemeral content gets as many hits as other well-written articles, but visitors become less interested and the article wilts away. It often has its own expiration date - the time of the article's event is often clearly stated. Because it is once popular, ephemeral content expires after a few days.

Also, it earns less money - and it's not just because traffic rises just after publication and dies out shortly after. Besides items on the market that will not last for at least 3 years, news stories tend to earn less money because of opinions and politics.Simply put, people would rather scout the market for weight-loss products than the latest scoop on a politician's whereabouts.

Like this plant, ephemeral content seem to die out after being fresh for days or weeks.
Like this plant, ephemeral content seem to die out after being fresh for days or weeks.

Ephemeral Content Topics

News Stories

To me, news stories are the most common types of ephemeral content. With all the political scandals, celebrity break-ups, and other ongoings in the world, it's so easy to make a mad dash to your computer keyboard, log-in, and type your take and views on the story.

Visitors flock to your article or Hub to see your shocking news, but as time passes on, a majority of them just move on, knowing that it's now in the past and done with. The current news changes every day, and writing on them seem to fade into obscurity.

Old News Just Wouldn't Do

If you want more traffic to your content, leave the news out!
If you want more traffic to your content, leave the news out! | Source

Using Specific Dates and Years

Like deciduous content, which is content that gains traffic and earnings seasonally, ephemeral content always include dates. But unlike that content, it specifically refers to an event in your life (if giving an anecdote in your article or Hub) by date or gives out a specific year if current.

Phrases like "last Tuesday," "last spring," or "in whatever exact year of event or story" (with the exception of articles that pertain to history for the latter) tend to drive less traffic and money and not interest the audience. (An exception to the rule is referring directly to a significant date in history.)


Another type of ephemeral content is commentary, which is an author's personal take on a product or event that lasts at most a year. For example, you give your insights on a new product, the Slicernator 5000. You write about how cool the product is, and tout it as "the best thing since sliced bread." Little do you know that some of the users experienced technical difficulties with it and its popularity dies out, thus you gain little traffic to your article.

Upcoming Events

Every day, new events in areas near where you live happen, but they don't always last long. For example, if you are writing a Memorial Day parade in your area and state the date of it, you think it's going to draw a lot of views. But with that day being movable (it happens every last Monday of May), the views and earnings fizzle after the event. Same thing with theme park events - the actual dates of operation vary each year.

Trends and Fads

Trends and fads change over time, from fashion to even food. For example, one type of hair accessories was very popular for a few months, but over time, many women move to wearing more natural hairstyles or other types. If you write on the accessories, and when its popularity fades away, you might see your traffic flat-line right before your eyes. Remember that less traffic equals less money, and just writing on something like fashionable hairstyles and dance fads make visitors lose interest.

References to Culture

Anything that refers to current culture is also ephemeral because celebrities and popular icons come and go in popularity. If you're doing a weight-loss article and you're explicitly referring to a celebrity who endorses those tips, you're turning an otherwise evergreen article into a fizzing-out ephemeral one.

Another example of dating an article with celebrity references is mentioning the current celebrity's name in your writings on a product or how it relates to a current fad that is exactly stated, only to fade away as the person and the fad fizzles in popularity.


Statistics change over time - from childhood autism diagnoses to the number of those who died in accidents involving alcohol. The usage of words like "many people" don't make content ephemeral; actual numbers and estimates date it as much as the specific dates themselves. Your traffic may spike when your write about childhood obesity facts and figures, only to see it gain little to no traffic or earnings at all. Like actual times, statistics date content easily.

Tips to Gain More Traffic and Earn More Money

It's OK to write ephemeral content, but there are better ways to earn more money and gain more traffic to your articles or Hubs.

  • Ask yourself if what you are writing is still relevant in the future. I have this philosophy in mind as a seasoned writer: like rosemary, make your content evergreen. Topics that last and are still searched generate profit and traffic in the long run, and they include tutorials, recipes, and parenting articles. The key to making more money from articles and gaining traffic to them is asking this question: will the content topic still be relevant a decade from now?
  • Don't date your article. Unless you're writing deciduous content, which only includes the actual date of a fixed holiday, never use specific dates. Use general terms such as "recently," "years ago," or "latest."
  • Don't refer to celebrities or latest fads. Unless you are writing an article on, say, a composer whose music has been cherished for years and years to come, don't give out the name of the celebrity or refer to today's trends. Instead, write something like, "one music advocate said," or "one of its customers noted."

Ephemeral content is popular and can allure views and money, but over time, as the content loses popularity, it is something obsolete and uninteresting to viewers.

Do you rely on too much ephemeral content?

See results
Like rosemary, make your content evergreen.
Like rosemary, make your content evergreen.


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