Want more website visitors, more backlinks, and more business? The answer isn’t just to produce more content — it’s to generate the right kind of content. These are the types of evergreen content that should play a role in your content marketing strategy.
What Is Evergreen Content: A Quick Review
What is evergreen content? And how can you employ it to the best effect? Before we dive into different types, here’s a brief refresher.
Evergreen Content vs. Topical Content
Evergreen content is material that doesn’t go stale. It stays relevant and interesting over a long period of time, bringing in web traffic and conversions long after its initial publication.
Topical content addresses current news and trends. If it’s well-timed, it often generates more traffic and audience engagement upon initial publication, but it has a built-in expiration date. The internet quickly moves on to the next piece of news.
Neither evergreen nor topical content is always inherently better than the other. There are a number of variables, and most businesses see the best results from a mixture of the two.
Benefits of Evergreen Content Marketing
A few industries, such as fashion, heavily slant toward topical content. But for most, the ideal ratio is weighted in favor of evergreen.
- Establishes your expertise
- Builds consumer trust
- Optimizes your site for enduring keywords
- Gathers backlinks over time
Even if your strategy relies heavily on to-the-minute coverage, an evergreen core can help your blog age gracefully and become an indispensable resource.
Best Evergreen Formats
In covering the best types of evergreen content, this article focuses more on topics than on formats — although in some cases, the two are intertwined.
But according to a recent study on evergreen content across the web, the format also matters. Lists are the most likely to go evergreen and generate lasting traffic, followed by how-to guides.
On the other side, press releases have a short shelf life, which isn’t surprising. But you should note that podcasts, presentations, and infographics also seem to be better at generating shares than long-term traffic.
The 11 Most Effective Types of Evergreen Content
What are examples of evergreen content? A large variety of topics and strategies fits under this heading.
The right mixture will help you target different readers with different search intents, becoming a trusted source of information — and whatever else you sell.
1. How-To Guides
How-to guides break down a process or provide instructions on how to get the most out of a product. Like many evergreen marketing examples, they serve an educational purpose.
People turn to Google when they want to learn something new or to improve an existing skill. For example, a content writer might want to improve their pitches and tailor them to more prestigious publications. Compose.ly anticipates this need — and related searches — with the article:
The piece takes writers through the full pitch and submission process, from the generation of a strong idea to the submission of the completed article.
Whether you run a lifestyle news outlet or work for a software start-up, there are how-to topics for which users regularly search. These guides have become a blogging staple and rank just below listicles in terms of the most popular evergreen formats. They drive 38% more traffic than other articles do.
A few key elements to a successful how-to guide:
- Clarity: Make the piece easy to read and its topic as easy to understand as possible.
- Chronology: You need to break down sequences, using visual cues to indicate new steps.
- Visual aids: Some things are more easily demonstrated than reported, and pictures and videos also help you account for different learning styles.
How-to guides also translate well to different media. Get extra mileage out of your work by turning that blog post into a video or that video into an infographic.
2. Industry Overviews
These articles are the whats and whys to the hows above. Instead of a detailed guide to a specific process, they orient readers with regard to a particular field or niche.
What do others need to understand about your industry or services? What can you offer them as context, background, explanation, etc.?
For example, check out another example from the Compose.ly archive:
Unlike the previous example, this piece isn’t directed at people who want to improve their content marketing skills. It’s aimed at businesses who need more information in order to navigate the arena at all.
3. Tips and Best Practices
Instead of focusing on broad introductions or a single process, collect multiple insider tips into a single post.
These topics lend themselves to listicles and evergreen content SEO. Not only do you hit valuable keywords, but you also pair them with a structure designed to appeal to the modern brain.
According to an often-cited piece in The New Yorker, listicles have such pull and staying power for multiple reasons:
- They look authoritative and well-organized.
- They’re easy to mentally index, neatly sliding into categories and classification systems.
- They often bear headlines that contain numbers, which stand out in search results.
You might have noticed that this very article is a listicle of evergreen-content best practices. In this case, those best practices are focused more narrowly on the types of content to include.
4. FAQs and Common Problems
If you're looking for more evergreen content ideas, you might reverse direction and address common questions and issues. In addition to FAQs about your business, generate material that helps users right when they need help the most.
Think of your own internet use. What do you do when something goes wrong? If you’re like most of us, you reach for your phone for some troubleshooting.
For example, Whole Foods created a post on 8 Common Pie Problems sometime before last Thanksgiving. An article on the best Turkey Day desserts wouldn’t be getting much traction in late May. But this one is right there waiting for would-be bakers struggling with summer fruit pies.
5. Definitions and Glossaries
Sometimes people don’t need or want a detailed answer. Sometimes they just want a quick definition.
If you’re in an industry that tends to be heavy on jargon, consider creating a mini dictionary for prospective clients. Do it well, and you might even get repeat visits from grateful readers who’ve bookmarked the page.
6. Checklists and Templates
Why not go beyond simple information? Provide users with a reusable resource they can work with online or download. Every time they use it, they’ll think of you.
Depending on your industry, you might make up templates that help them:
- Organize information
- Generate plans and schedules
- Create their own content
- Work through their thoughts about a topic
Or draw up a checklist they can use to track larger projects. The website Moving.com provides an extensive moving checklist. No doubt, users in the midst of an always-stressful relocation are grateful for the assistance.
These types of evergreen content also make good gated content. Try offering them to new subscribers as a way to grow your email list.
7. Reviews, Roundups, and Resources
Reviews and well-curated lists can also prove evergreen. Help your readers research products or find other sources of online educational material.
The vast majority — 89% — of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Often, these reviews are just the ones attached to the product page, but a lot of people value an expert opinion.
Do an in-depth review of products tangentially related to yours, compare your offerings against similar businesses, or compile top ten lists of the best tools. Or simply create a page of links to other, valuable sources of content.
Even better, take a page from the playbook of Zapier, an online automation and integration tool. They regularly publish listicles on software apps. While Zapier doesn’t sell these products directly, its tool is built to work with them.
Zapier firmly establishes itself in the minds of readers most likely to benefit from what it offers. It also turns up in searches for these related products, expanding its visibility and reach.
Both interviews and original research (below) are ways of providing users with something they can’t get elsewhere. Truly unique content sets you apart from the competition and distinguishes you as an authority. These types also lead to more backlinks, helping with SEO.
Find an industry influencer willing to speak to you on the record, and do your homework. Prepare a set of questions, abiding by interview best practices. For example, you’ll want to:
- Set a clear objective and structure for the interview.
- Strip your questions of all biases and assumptions.
- Research the expert’s background and keep a profile nearby during the interview.
- Give yourself room to go off script and dig deeper.
If you’re new to interviewing, you might want to practice reading your questions aloud. Conscript a kind friend and do a little bit of role-playing. Stay open to feedback on your questions and delivery.
9. Original Research
Compared to expert interviews, original research tends to be fairly time-consuming. But data-driven research and detailed industry reports more consistently go evergreen.
As both writers and readers, we constantly look for numbers. Your content strategy may be informed by company research, but can you do more with the various data you collect? Or can you use surveys and digital tools to collect different information?
Keep in mind that, while we look for numbers, we also look for the latest and most authoritative numbers. It’s sometimes not worth the effort to confirm earlier findings on a more limited scale. Try to find a different angle of approach.
10. Case Studies
In addition to educating your audience, you want to inspire them and provide proof of concepts.
Use your case studies to energize your readers and move them closer to the point of purchase. How? Tell a good story:
- Have a clear beginning, middle, and end: Include numbers but don’t simply list them off. Integrate them into the story.
- Feature a relatable protagonist: What client is most representative of your base? Make it easy for readers to connect to the main character and their problems.
- Keep the focus on the hero: Think of your brand as the fairy godmother in the tale — the crucial side character that enables the plot. But most people would rather read about Cinderella’s journey than a day in the life of her godmother.
- Be specific: Good storytelling is all about compelling, vivid details. Besides, you need to show your expertise in action.
- Illustrate: Bring your story to life with pictures of designs, before-and-afters, or simply photographs of pivotal moments.
If possible, compile a collection of case studies that testifies to your breadth. While you want to depict relatable clients, you also don’t want to bore readers with the same story over and over.
11. Brand Story
Make sure to create material for the web users directly considering your business as well as those researching related topics.
Tell people your story as well as those stories of your clients. After all, we may not want to read from the fairy godmother’s agenda, but who wouldn’t like a look at her backstory? How does a fairy godmother get started, and how does her business evolve thereafter?
Create Evergreen Content for Your Site
There you go — 11 types of evergreen content from which you can draw inspiration.
The first step is to take a look at your website. What’s heavily featured? What’s missing? Use keyword tools to identify evergreen content SEO opportunities.
Because evergreen content has a longer lifecycle, you have more opportunities to reengage it after its initial publication and promotion. Try adapting it for a different channel or in a different medium. And remember that evergreen doesn’t mean stagnant; exactly the opposite, in fact. Refresh these pieces with new information as appropriate.
But before you can update it, you’ll need to create the original. Or hire expert content writing services to do the work for you. At Compose.ly, we happen to know a writer or two.