The Everlasting Quest For Evergreen Content
If you’ve been working in the field of online marketing in the past few years you’ve surely heard the term “Evergreen Content”. It has become the holy grail of content for marketers, bloggers and webmasters searching far and wide in pursuit of extraordinary content. But before we delve into the reasons why this type of content is so sought after, let’s begin by explaining what evergreen content is.
What is Evergreen Content?
To put it simply, evergreen content is useful, relevant and it’s built to last. Be it an article, a video or an infographic, it is content that is created to stand the test of time. Once created, it will remain “fresh” and never become obsolete or outdated. Much like with all content, evergreen content should be relevant and useful to your audience, providing them value and keeping them coming back to your site. The purpose of evergreen content is to provide value to your audience for a longer period of time than a topical post. It is the difference between, for example, a how-to guide on flooring versus a post on popular flooring trends of 2016.
Here are a few more examples of evergreen content:
- How-to Guides - Such guides make great evergreen content because they are useful and remain current for as long as the process described in the guide doesn’t change in the near future. A great example of such a guide is this guide for changing a car tire. The process of changing a car tire has not changed in the last century, and is not expected to change for at least another century, making this guide as useful now as it was at the time of its creation.
- Tutorials - Much like how-to guides, tutorials provide great value to your audience because they teach your audience a skill that they can continue to use throughout their life. Not all tutorials can be evergreen because certain disciplines are ever-evolving. However, certain skills and the methods used to teach them remain largely unchanged throughout the years. Take this video tutorial teaching kids how to write, for example. Writing is a skill that will always be in demand, and the methods used to teach kids how to write have not changed much in the last few years and are not expected to change in the foreseeable future.
- Case Studies - Some case studies (not all) provide verifiable statistical evidence in order to test a theory. The results of such case studies can definitely stand the test of time because they can help prove or disprove a theory, regardless of when the case study was conducted (within reason). Consider this Moz case study testing the effectiveness of evergreen content by measuring and tracking key metrics of an “evergreen” blog post. This case study was created to emphasize the effectiveness of evergreen content and it has been just as successful in doing so today as it has when it was first published four years ago.
- Histories - Whether it is a company history or the history of ancient Rome, content of this nature can remain evergreen and continue to provide value to your audience for years to come. However, unlike the history of ancient Rome, a company or an industry history is still ongoing and so will require periodic additions to help keep it current. A great example is this article about the history of computer games which was published in 2015 but will remain current for a number of years; as long as the author continues to make changes, when necessary.
- Resource Lists - A comprehensive list of industry resources can be extremely helpful to your audience, especially if they are new to the industry and so may not be familiar with its inner workings and terminology. Much like histories, resource lists need to be periodically updated by the author to keep them current. This list of SEO resources on Kissmetrics Blog is a great example of a resource list.
- Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs are similar to resource lists in the way they are used to educate your audience. Like resource lists, they are a great resource for people who are new to the industry and questions about it. Again, FAQ pages will need to be updated from time to time to keep them “evergreen” and current. A great example is this post on Hubspot about frequently asked SEO questions.
The Benefits of Creating Evergreen Content
From the perspective of the content publisher, there are several benefits to publishing quality content. Whether it’s evergreen or topical, some benefits to content publishing include:
- Attracting more website visitors
- Building an audience
- Getting more inbound links to your website
- Better search ranking
- Improving brand awareness
- Lead generation
When publishing a topical, time sensitive article you’ll notice a common trend in your Google Analytics data. An initial spike in referral traffic followed by a sharp decline in the following weeks until traffic stops completely. This trend is not surprising since most people will read a topical article shortly after it gets published because that is when it is most relevant. As time goes by and the article becomes less relevant the number of people who read it decreases, and so does the number of visits to the article page.
In contrast, well-crafted evergreen content - such as a how-to guide or case studies - may still give you an initial spike in traffic to the page. However, instead of a decline in traffic in the weeks that follow, evergreen content gains momentum, attracting more traffic to the page the longer it remains online. In many cases, the number of visitors to a well-executed evergreen page will grow with time, as more and more people find out about the page.
When looking at inbound link growth, a similar trend emerges emphasizing the sustainable power of high quality evergreen content. If you publish a topical blog post you might get a few links shortly following publication and none thereafter. Yet, when you publish an evergreen post you’ll see sustainable inbound link growth throughout the lifespan of the post. Sustainable link growth will in turn lead to better search engine rankings and a further increase in the number of visitors who find the site organically. A stable flow of website visitors will lead to improved brand awareness and better engagement which will ultimately help you generate more leads and conversions.
To get a better understanding of how this works in practice, I recommend reading this case study by Chris Fielden on his experiment with evergreen content.
Tips for Creating Evergreen Content
Now that you know what evergreen content is, the different forms it can take and the benefits it offers, you must be eager to start creating some of your own evergreen content. Here are few tips to help get you on your way to building your own:
- Make it as comprehensive as possible - To create a quality piece of content that would stand the test of time, you must make it as comprehensive and detailed as possible. Try looking at content that was successful on other websites and do it better.
- Make content targeted at beginners - Some of the best forms of evergreen content are how-to guides, tutorials and resource lists that are naturally aimed at beginners. Keep it simple and try not to overwhelm your audience with jargon or complex elements.
- Spread the word - One of the most important parts of content marketing is outreach. It’s not enough to just create a great piece of content and hope that people will find it eventually. You must actively reach out to your existing audience (newsletter or email) as well as your prospective audience (social media and message boards) to let them know about the content you’ve published. If the content is good, people will tell each other about it and it will spread like wildfire in King’s Landing. There’s no ‘shame’ in hoping it’s good enough to go viral.
- Update when necessary - With resource lists, histories and case studies there may come a time when some of the information or links contained in your posts will become outdated as a result of some new developments. When that time comes you must be diligent and make sure your content remains “evergreen”.
- Make it visible - You should be proud of the content you create so show it off. Make sure it’s clearly visible on your website. You can do that with a “start here” page or a most popular posts section in the sidebar.
Your industry or niche will dictate the type of content you’ll create, but regardless of whether you choose to do a how-to guide or a case study you should never forget the three pillars of evergreen content: make it useful, keep it relevant to your audience, and most importantly, keep it “fresh”.