Five Steps to Evergreen Content: A Beginner’s Guide
If you’re responsible for marketing or producing content for your company (any size or industry), you need to understand the concept and importance of evergreen content. Let’s start with a little evergreen 101.
What is 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
For example: You are a small law firm that specializes in family law in the state of Maryland. You know that your consumers are going to need an attorney to draw up wills and legal trusts. You blog about these issues to attract new leads and demonstrate your knowledge in this specific area of the law. Your evergreen content is content that focuses on wills and legal trusts. If something changes, like a politician discussing potential changes to the laws that govern wills or legal trusts, you may need to create a piece of content that addresses that change. This timely piece might attract new audiences, which is great, but the timely nature of the post means it’s not evergreen and could be irrelevant in a matter of days, weeks or months.
How do I create evergreen content?
There are a number of great ways to create evergreen content but you need to do 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.
Five Ways 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:
- Make a top 50 list – 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.
- 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 the 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 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.
One More Thing
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. )
Remember, you are the holder of important information people want. Listen carefully and they will tell you exactly what they want to read and consume.