In your content marketing pursuits, having a company blog that gets backlinks, ranks well for relevant keywords, and receives a consistent stream of content is likely top of mind. There are many ways to accomplish these objectives, but one of the most important is creating evergreen content.
Creating evergreen content is far easier said than done. It needs to be high-quality, optimized for search visibility and conversions, and of course, remain evergreen.
In this post, we’ll discuss what it is, why it’s essential, how to create it, and finally, how to make sure its evergreen-ness (totally not a word) never fades.
What Is Evergreen Content?
First, the basics—what is evergreen content? Simply put, it describes content that doesn’t go out of date. The topics will always be relevant to your target audience, no matter the time of year or next big trend in your industry. It takes its name from the evergreen plant, one that keeps its bright green leaves all year.
For example, if you’re an attorney and you write a comprehensive blog on X Things to Consider While Writing a Will, that would be your evergreen content because death and taxes are something that are permanently applicable to your audience.
At the other end of the spectrum would be content that’s a timely reaction to or explanation of a small change in immigration or employment laws, which are always a-changing.
For a quick explainer, watch the video below.
An evergreen content topic is typically going to be:
- Something your buyers will always need
- Fundamentals of a challenge that won’t go away
- How-tos that don’t need to be reinvented
- Case studies that will always be meaningful
It should not broach timely topics that are important in the moment but will soon be out of date. Even if it’s a topic that will always be of interest doesn’t mean it’s evergreen. Your customers may always have an interest in stock tips, but the strategies and tactics of picking stocks can change quite dramatically over time. See the difference?
Why Does Evergreen Content Matter?
Well, it goes back to those three objectives — backlinks, organic rankings, and traffic. It’s not that you shouldn’t create content on timely topics, but you have to understand that the traffic to the post will decline over time as the environment changes.
Evergreen content should play a priority role in your content strategy and ongoing content planning. It offers you an opportunity for consistent traffic and relevance. It isn’t something you have to keep updating or recreating. If it’s always (mostly) accurate, then you’ll get more brownie points from Google as well. Google wants to provide searchers the best and up-to-date results for their query, and if your content is out of date, it won’t be rewarded.
From the marketing and messaging point of view, are two key characteristics of evergreen content:
- It is not dependent on a news cycle, so it’s always valuable to your target consumer.
- It is keyword rich and consistently drives traffic to your site.
You can easily distinguish the performance of different kinds of posts with content analytics. For non-evergreen or time-based content, you may see a rush in the 30 to 60 days after publication. Then it begins to flatline.
Evergreen content is a steady stream. The keywords you use in these pieces are always in queries. What this type of content does is it provides you with constant returns. Content marketing is a long game for any brand. It can continue to deliver traffic and conversions years after publication.
Because it’s a pillar piece that remains relevant, you are likely to see backlinks to it, which drives up its quality score. Further, the more your content is found from other sources or through search, the more views it will receive. This volume will be consistent instead of spiking and ebbing.
What Make the Best Evergreen Topics?
Your evergreen topics are going to be specific to your business offerings, target verticals and ideal buyers. They are different from content assets/articles that are seasonal or focus on particular events. Evergreen formats tend to be things like:
- How-to guides
- Problem-solution content
- List posts
- Brand books
- Industry terms glossary
These are some general examples. Now if we look at a specific industry, say the healthcare technology space, the topics get much more specific to that vertical.
- Interoperability challenges: This topic will always be top of mind in health IT.
- HIPAA compliance: While HIPAA may change, the need to comply does not.
- Improving patient care: Practitioners that use healthcare software will continue to have this concern.
- Industry-event blog posts for shows like HIMSS (the largest healthcare technology event).
- Reports on specific cybersecurity incidents: While cybersecurity is a constant concern, writing about a single event doesn’t fall into the timeless category.
- Trend pieces because those change rapidly.
Before You Create Evergreen Content
You need to be clear about two things first:
1. Messaging Architecture
What does your company stand for? In other words, what is your brand? Your brand is how users will identify you, so you need to be rock solid in representing that identity.
Brainstorm on words that represent your brand—don’t stop at two or three—go until you have nine or 10. Post-its are helpful for this exercise—you can put one concept on each post-it. Weed concepts down until you are convinced you have the three or four concepts that best represent your brand. The law firm may have the following: Family Law, Wills and Trusts, Excellent Customer Service and Expertise in Changing Law.
2. Editorial Calendar
How often are you going to publish evergreen content? Whatever your blogging schedule; every day, twice a month, once a week, you need to mix evergreen content with timely content. That way you can attract the maximum number of eyeballs to your site.
Remember, your audience will return and expand based on your evergreen content, but your timely content demonstrates your mastery of whatever your subject is: it proves you have your finger on the pulse of that industry.
How to Write Evergreen Content
Next, we’ll go into the steps of developing evergreen content and how to ensure it stays this way.
1. Make a Top 50 List of Questions and Ideas
What are the top 50 most frequently asked questions that your customers ask? Make that list. Brainstorm with others in your company or your industry. Look at other popular blogs for similar ideas. There’s no end to these questions. Focus on short, tight blogs that examine one issue and give people practical ideas on how to manage.
2. Identify Keywords
- Use a keyword planner tool to understand the search volume and trends of keywords that matter to your audience.
- Start with keywords that have significant volume and look at the pages that rank highest to determine if they are receiving sufficient traffic.
- Examine trends for the keywords you have narrowed down from the first two steps. Use Google Trends to understand the long-term search volume of the keyword to discern if it’s consistent.
3. Define Your Topics
Generating evergreen topic ideas is not unlike other brainstorming sessions. The difference is you want to stay within the parameters of what will always be important to your audience. The tactics you’ll want to follow for topic ideation are:
- Identify keywords that have significant volume and low competition.
- Examine the top-ranking pages for possible keywords to ensure they are still receiving consistent traffic.
- Look for positive trends on the keyword through a keyword tool or Google Trends.
- Develop the outline based on what you learn and the topic’s importance to your audience.
4. Create “10X Content”
Evergreen content is usually long-form with deep insights, solutions, and credibility. It follows many of the principles of what Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of Moz, calls “10X content.” 10X content is 10 times better than what is currently ranking on the first page of Google for a keyword.
10X Content gives you a very good chance of long-term Google rankings. Creating “10x content” involves:
- Quality: Is the piece well-written, optimized, and easy to read? Does it solve a problem? Does your website provide a good user experience?
- Uniqueness: Does your content offer a distinct approach and voice on the subject? (Quick tip: You should avoid angles with a short lifespan.)
- Authority: Are you able to showcase thought leadership on the topic?
- Longevity: Are you referencing anything that is time-bound specific? (Quick tip: Don’t use phrases that automatically date the content, such as “this year” or “last month.”)
In a nutshell, it offers knowledge, solutions, and critical takeaways. It’s also up to date and includes research, visuals, and examples. The pillars of 10X are quality, uniqueness, and authority. It can’t be like everything else on the topic. You have to elevate it to a class of its own.
Quick Tips to Create Evergreen Content
Now that you understand evergreen content’s purpose, and you have your editorial calendar and your messaging architecture solidified, let’s talk about five ways you can create that evergreen content:
Use Your Analytics
Look at the keywords that are bringing people to the blog. Examine the long-tail keywords that bring people to your website. Scour the words that attract people to your LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Watch who retweets your information. All of this information will give you great ideas for evergreen content.
Watch Your Blog Comments
Very often, your commenters will give you great ideas for blog posts. Important clues to conversations happening in the blogosphere are left in comments—use them to create a list of important evergreen content posts.
Monitor Your Social Media and Online Communities
I belong to a number of groups on different social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, etc.). Often my colleagues are talking about things on a high level that are perfect for evergreen content for my audiences. Not everyone specializes in content marketing—it’s a thin slice of his or her day. Some of the high-level questions asked within these groups are perfect for evergreen content.
For example, one of my colleagues was talking about public literacy in healthcare. She wanted to know very detailed specifics, but it was the perfect topic to write about in general, because people are always looking for that information. It was also a post consistent with my brand, which is plain language content.
Write About Your Passions
If you’re in this business, there must be something you love about it. (If not, go do something else. Seriously. Life is too short.) Every once in a while talk about what makes you passionate about what you do. I once was inspired by an episode of Mad Men and it was my most popular post ever. My inspiration from that episode infused my enthusiasm about digital communications into that post. People are attracted to passion—it won’t hurt your blog to reveal your own, unless they violate laws or fall under TMI.
Take a Wider Angle
While some topics are evergreen, not all angles are. For example, earlier, we discussed how HIPAA compliance is always a concern for healthcare technology. However, certain angles are not, such as posts about specific compliance breaches or incidents. While you could use these stories as examples of non-compliance, a piece devoted to a one-time incident would not be evergreen.
Avoid Phrases with Short Lifespans
You will immediately date your content by saying, “last year” or “in 2015.” It does make sense to use those words when writing blogs about trends and year-in-review posts, but you should avoid them in evergreen content.
Maintaining Evergreen Content
Even though your pillar pieces are mostly future-proof, they still require some pruning from time to time to ensure they are delivering results. In maintaining evergreen content, you should:
- Monitor rankings: Consistently review the content analytics of the piece and respond to any major drops. If you see that your evergreen posts are sliding down in ranking, it indicates that the topic may be losing relevancy. It could also mean that a competitor published a “better” piece of content.
- Refresh as needed: If you see a decrease in views, you may need to revisit your piece to see what needs an update, such as statistics and data. You may also have broken links. Most likely, you’ll need to update content regularly with new statistics, processes, screenshots, or other variables.
- Republish and distribute: Once you make updates, republish your post and redistribute it on social media. Doing so can cause a bump in traffic and secure higher rankings.
- Build links: Backlinking and rankings are connected. Find ways to generate more backlinks to your pillar, evergreen pieces to improve their visibility. Broken links or broken images in your evergreen content can obviously cause adverse results. Use a broken link tool to crawl your content and then replace any that are no longer active.
Evergreen Content Examples
These brands are nurturing and growing their audiences with these powerful evergreen content examples.
Neil Patel’s Post on Increasing YouTube Views
Summary: It’s a blog post originally written in 2016 that provides examples of how brands can be successful with YouTube. Find it here.
Why It Works: YouTube is a critical channel for many content marketers, especially as video becomes a dominant format. Increasing viewership is a topic that will always be important to the audience, and the fundamentals of what Patel is advising are just that — fundamental. It’s not dealing with trends but foundational strategies.
Marketing Land’s “A Field Guide to Amazon Advertising”
Summary: It’s an all-inclusive guide to using Amazon ads for ecommerce businesses. Read it here.
Why It Works: The content is universal and appealing to ecommerce and breaks down all the aspects of Amazon ads. Even though the platform continues to evolve, the basics haven’t changed. This piece would be easy to update as well when those changes occur.
Isle Surf & SUP’s “How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board”
Summary: The piece provides readers with a how-to on paddle boards. View it here.
Why It Works: This how-to post has long legs. Paddle boarding, although “trendy,” will likely not change dramatically in design or function. There were always be “new” paddle boarders.
Eventbrite’s “12 Stories of Events Gone Wrong and Lessons Learned”
Summary: It’s a new slant on the case study format that takes real-world stories and offers commentary. See it here.
Why It Works: It serves as a cautionary tale for audience members, and those same snags are likely still prevalent in the life of an event planner.
Managing Evergreen Content
Content governance is important. Make a list of your evergreen content and check it quarterly to make sure nothing has changed. You don’t need to write a completely new blog post, you can just republish with an update. Demonstrate to your audience that you are paying attention to change: it wins trust and loyal readership.
(Tip from DivvyHQ: If you’re using Divvy, get in the habit of filling in the “Maintenance Date” so you get an email notification that will prompt you to review your evergreen content pieces at a future date. )
Evergreen Content: Here to Stay
Evergreen content should play a key role in your content marketing efforts. With just a few evergreen pieces, you can see impactful results. The more you plan and produce on a regular basis, the better those results will be. Get inspired by looking deeper at these evergreen content examples and then get planning.
Needs some help in the planning and production department? Schedule a DivvyHQ demo today.