Evergreen content is a critical part of content marketing. Here, we'll teach you what it is and what you can do to make yours more effective.
Evergreen Content: Definition & Basics
Just as its namesake suggests, evergreen content is any content that remains relevant and interesting to readers, regardless of time.
Take the following articles for example:
- 33 Best Burger Recipes
- How to Brush Your Teeth
- What is Search Marketing?
Compare these to:
- Best Holiday Cookies 2018: 15 Delicious Recipes to Make for Santa
- 5 Trendy Dental Fads That Are Wreaking Havoc on Your Teeth
- Google confirms mid-December search ranking algorithm updates
See how any reader might visit the latter pages only at the time of their publication or at a certain time of the year? Meanwhile, the pages about burgers, brushing your teeth, and search marketing may come in handy any time from January to December, year after year.
This distinction is ultimately what makes certain content “evergreen.”
While topical or time-sensitive content loses relevance over time, evergreen content is always “fresh” and draws in new readers for months, or even years, after their original publication date.
Does my Business Need an Evergreen Content Strategy?
In short, yes, your website would be better off with an evergreen content strategy if it doesn’t already have one.
Evergreen content provides websites with a reliable means of generating traffic over time.
While time-sensitive content quickly fades away in the internet world, evergreen content remains at the forefront. As a result, businesses incorporate it into their marketing strategies knowing that it will produce sustainable results.
However, it’s important to note that a website does not have to produce only evergreen content to succeed. Time-sensitive content also has its own value in generating web traffic, especially by capitalizing on current trends.
What Is (and Isn’t) Evergreen Content?
Still confused about what content counts as evergreen? Consider some leading evergreen and topical content websites, and what they’re known for:
Evergreen Content Websites
- Wikipedia - general encyclopedia
- IMDb - film and actor encyclopedia
- WebMD - medical ailment encyclopedia
Topical Content Websites
- TMZ - celebrity gossip and news
- ScienceAlert - science breakthroughs and news
- TechCrunch - technology breakthroughs and news
Evergreen sites tend to be encyclopedic resources, meaning they won’t go out of style anytime soon. By contrast, topical websites produce articles that are relevant for only a limited amount of time. Evergreen content thus does not include:
- Breaking and current news
- Seasonal and holiday topics
- Current trends in fashion and culture
- Statistic-heavy articles
These subjects generally focus on a certain time frame, giving them a limited shelf life.
Take a look at the following examples. Can you identify which content would be considered evergreen?
If you guessed the avocado recipes, Wikipedia’s presidential elections page, and the nature photography guide, you nailed it!
<div class="tip">Some topics may be more “evergreen-friendly” than others. For instance, general articles about love and romance are more likely to stand the tests of time than articles about technology, given the industry’s rapid changes.</div>
Of course, the deciding factor about whether an article is evergreen depends on the piece’s angle, as the above examples demonstrate. Avocado recipes will remain relevant so long as avocados exist and are eaten, but a news article about a rise in avocado prices will quickly become obsolete. Likewise, a general guide about nature photography and a page about presidential elections will outlast content that is specific to one year.
It’s also possible that some topics can’t be evergreen—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Writing about trending topics can reel in a broader audience and spark ideas for future content. It’s all about finding the right balance between the two.
Evergreen content often appears in several distinct formats:
- Tutorials and instructions
- Definitions, histories, and overviews
- Case studies
Keep in mind that structuring a page in one of these ways does not necessarily mean it will be evergreen.
For instance, an article titled “10 Predictions for the 2018 Golden Globes” does not become evergreen by virtue of being a list. After all, the article is clearly only relevant for 2018. By contrast, a page titled “The Difference Between the Golden Globes and Oscars” is not limited to a particular time frame.
With that in mind, it is ultimately a page’s substance that determines whether or not it is evergreen.
How to Create Effective Evergreen Content
Strong and effective evergreen content is made of well-written information that helps readers and uses best search engine optimization (SEO) practices, which helps drive organic traffic.
There are three must-do’s to create it: conduct keyword research, satisfy user intent, and become a link magnet.
Step 1: Conduct keyword research
Before creating anything, first define your content’s purpose and target audience by doing keyword research. Keyword research provides insight on the most popular search queries to give content creators an idea of how to approach a topic and who to target.
Check out the following tools for conducting keyword research:
- Answer The Public - Pulling data from Google and Bing’s auto suggest results, Answer The Public sheds light on search query data by revealing the most common phrases and questions related to a target keyword.
- BuzzSumo - One way of gauging a topic’s popularity is by analyzing its social performance. BuzzSumo analyzes target keywords and reveals shares across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Keyworddit - As “the front page of the Internet,” Reddit garners over 1.3 million unique visitors a month. Keyworddit makes use of its popularity by analyzing the keywords popular in each subreddit.
- SEMrush - SEMrush provides comprehensive data and analytics about keywords, including their monthly search volume, related keywords, and cost-per-click.
Needless to say, it’s challenging to find a unique topic that hasn’t already been written about. With that in mind, consider looking into long-tail keywords. These topics tend to be more niche, and though they receive less search traffic, they also have less competition.
<div class="tip">Targeting an evergreen keyword or topic with high search volume can take months, or even years to succeed. Your content will need to be more comprehensive and useful than all of your other competitors—which could require heavy investment depending on the keyword—and you’ll need to employ a link building strategy in order to compete.</div>
Step 2: Satisfy user intent
Content quality includes usability, making user experience optimization critical to getting your content to the top positions of Google SERPs.
After all, webpages are made for people, not search engines. With that in mind, it’s crucial to understand user intent, or what users want or expect out of your website. The better structured a website, the more easily users can navigate it.
Broadly speaking, there are four types of user intent:
- Commercial investigation
Understanding user intent can better shape your content in catering to user needs. Structuring and stylizing content accordingly enhances user experience.
Step 3: Attract links
A webpage could achieve its purpose and yet still be invisible in the internet world. This is where links come in.
Search engines consider the number and quality of links to a website as indicators of its value and credibility. More quality links reflect positively on webpages, landing them in higher positions on SERPs. Consequently, becoming a link magnet will help establish greater visibility.
There are many nuances when it comes to the science of attracting links, but simply put, if you want to reach link magnet status, you must:
- Create original, quality content. Can you think of a unique angle or a novel way of presenting your content? More people will link to it if your content stands out from its competitors.
- Identify good link partners. These are sites that might link to yours based on subject relevance. Look for partners that link to your competition, or even consider linking to your competition, as Yahoo did. Strong link partnerships help to increase content exposure as well as the chances of receiving more links.
- Avoid link farms. Link farms are clusters of websites that link to every other site within the cluster in spite of having unrelated content. This is a form of spam by which site owners try to enhance a page’s visibility. As to be expected, search engines penalize websites that partake in link farm practices.
- Promote your content. Share your work through social media and email. Or, contact industry publications that may circulate your work among their own readers, and incorporate social media share buttons so that your work can easily be retweeted and reposted. The more users have access to your quality work, the more likely one (or some) will decide to link it.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Besides ramping up content quality and visibility, here are a few additional strategies for enhancing your website’s evergreen content strategy.
Keep it simple
Evergreen content commonly appears as guides, definitions, and FAQs, making it necessary to use layman’s terms. After all, why would an expert in a topic search for information about something they’re already familiar with?
Avoid using complicated terminology and jargon. Using everyday language will make your writing accessible to a wider audience, which will in turn drive more traffic and greater brand awareness. To find out the readability of your content, try using WebpageFX’s Readability Test Tool.
Creating evergreen content means creating with the aim of perpetual relevance. Sound tricky? You can generally judge whether a topic or angle is “timeless” by asking, “Will this information still be helpful six months from now? A year?”
There is no specific length of time that evergreen pages are supposed to last for—but certainly longer than the average trending article’s 2.6-day lifespan.
Play it safe by going easy on pop culture references and trends, which easily set time parameters around your piece. However, this does not mean that evergreen pages can be left alone for a decade after publication—the occasional update is still necessary to prevent a post’s staleness and to ensure relevance.
Add images, videos, and other forms of multimedia
Just because content is evergreen doesn’t mean it’s engaging. Think outside of the textbox and incorporate more multimedia. Solid blocks of text are an eyesore and do little to visually engage consumers.
Consider including interactive content like videos, infographics, quizzes, and other mediums to keep readers engaged and wanting to come back for more. Indeed, the Content Marketing Institute reports that 81% of users find interactive content more attention-grabbing than static content.
Leave your content undated
This last one is optional—actually, debatable. Some marketers support removing the date from evergreen web content because users may otherwise use it to negatively judge a website. One case study describes a sudden nosedive in web traffic once dates appeared in their SERPs. Moreover, leaving content undated allows marketers to repurpose old work, extending their lifespan for sharing on social media.
Conversely, others suggest that removing a post’s date is duplicitous and makes users skeptical of a webpage. Instead, date-keeper proponents suggest noting updates when appropriate, e.g., “Note: This article has been updated as of December 2017.”
Ultimately, the decision to include or exclude an article’s date is a business decision that depends on the nature of the topic and the target audience.
Evergreen content is crucial for generating sustainable web traffic and building brand awareness in the long run. However, although it’s meant to be long-lasting, it still requires regular maintenance and upkeep. Review and edit your evergreen pages from time to time to keep them fresh and well optimized.
Of course, while top-notch evergreen content is essential to digital marketing, it’s not all that matters. Strong web marketing strategies are often well-rounded and make the most of both topical and evergreen content.
This post was originally published in January 2018.