Semalt Explains What Evergreen Content Is
Let's say you've been given $1 million. Your job is to invest it as best you can, and if you do well there'll be a cut of the profits in it for you. You're given two options: a short-term, high risk yet potentially high reward strategy, or a far safer and long-term investment that will pay you back handsomely over time.
It's fair to say that all but the most ardent gamblers will choose the safer, longer-term option. With a far greater likelihood of success, and with rewards that could stretch long into the future, it's the wisest choice.
While they may not be dealing with large stacks of cash, any organisation that produces online content will be making a similar choice every day: one between contemporary and evergreen content.
The problem? This decision could decide the fate of your brand, and you might not even know you're making it. So today we're going to look at what evergreen content is, why it's important, and how to make the most of it.
What is evergreen content?
Just as evergreen trees continue to stand lush and strong all year round, evergreen content never goes out of date - it's as valuable today as it was when it was published, be that a month, a year or a decade ago.
Evergreen content isn't focused on current trends. It doesn't reference today's news or this year's pop culture. It instead offers the audience valuable advice about those unchanging issues that sit at the core of most subjects, industries and fields of expertise.
Evergreen content is that blog post that you bookmarked and continue to go back to for guidance. It's that how-to guide that you downloaded that has got you out of so many jams. Sure, this content might need to be updated from time to time as new information relating to the subject is revealed, but for the most part it will stay relevant without large-scale changes needing to be made.
On the other side you have contemporary or topical content: the sort that is crafted for a specific moment in time, like the articles on a news site, an industry blog that examines a current trend, or the answer to 'where to buy Easter eggs'.
Evergreen topics ≠ evergreen content
At this point we should take a moment to look at two seemingly similar - but for the purposes of this article, quite different - concepts: topics and content.
Evergreen topics are those that enjoy a sustained level of interest over time, no matter the year, the season or the day of the week. Evergreen topics include:
- Unblocking drains: No matter whether you live now or a century into the future, drains will exist, and will need to be unblocked from time to time.
- Losing weight: If we're honest, this is a topic that will probably only get more relevant into the future.
- Football scores: There's always a match going on somewhere in the world, and a high level of interest constantly surrounds the sport.
- Today's weather: People's fascination with weather is never-ending, with many of us checking it daily.
Evergreen content is a piece of content that is written about an evergreen topic. The difference here is that the content must be written in a way that ensures it will never go out of date. Let's make some content based on the topics above:
- 5 ways to unblock a drain: The strategies for unblocking a drain won't change much into the future, so this is a solid piece of evergreen content.
- 10 effective ways to lose weight: This is also a good piece of evergreen content, although it may need updating from time to time as science reveals new weight loss strategies.
- Football scores / today's weather… It's here where we can see the difference between evergreen topics and evergreen content. While these subjects are evergreen, the content you create, about last night's match or this morning's rain, will be topical - it will become less and less relevant as time goes on.
This means that you need to pick an evergreen topic that also lends itself to being the subject of evergreen content.
The next question is why?
Why do I need evergreen content?
Evergreen content is a more efficient and effective way to attract visitors to your site. Because a news site relies on topical content, their readership will plummet as soon as they stop creating it. If a weather site doesn't offer up new content every day, it will also cease to exist.
Most other organisations aren't so reliant on contemporary content though. By choosing to write an evergreen blog, you'll avoid that initial peak of readers that slowly fades to zero over time. In fact, a well-constructed piece of evergreen content results in just the opposite.
Google's job is to answer user queries as best it can. It does this by looking at how up-to-date, trustworthy and popular a particular result is before ranking it in a list. An evergreen piece of content is always up-to-date, and over time it can show itself to be trustworthy by earning backlinks from other sites. This creates a snowball effect of popularity - more people see it, more sites link to it, and it goes higher and higher up the rankings.
A quality piece of evergreen content earns you more and more traffic over time, without the need for much (if any) ongoing work - you simply need to ensure it stays up-to-date. A few such posts will often account for the majority of a website's traffic, and can be one of the most effective ways to get in front of relevant eyes.
How to create evergreen content
Now that we understand what evergreen content is and why it's important, the question becomes how? How do you create and maintain a top-notch piece of evergreen content?
Here are four (surprisingly simple) steps:
1. Brainstorm ideas and check search data
Get your team together for a brainstorm session. Consider the core questions that your customers tend to ask you, specifically the ones with answers that don't change over time. Once you've got a few ideas, identify key search terms that your audience would likely type into Google in search of answers (remember that your customers may use very different words to the ones that you use within your industry.)
Use a keyword tool to check which of these subjects and search terms are the most popular. Once you've identified the evergreen topics with the most potential, check for a positive trend over time. Look at the instances of those keywords being searched over the last year - if the line on the graph stays consistently strong over that period, or in a perfect world shows an increase in activity over time, you've got a solid evergreen topic on your hands.
2. Invest in creating a high-quality piece of content
It's time to write. Remember that evergreen content should stand the test of time; that it'll hopefully be representing you and your brand for years to come. As such, this shouldn't be something that is slapped together by an intern.
You should make a proper investment in this piece of content. This is something that your subject matter experts should be involved with. This is something that should be professionally written and made to look beautiful. This should be a long form piece that covers every angle of the subject at hand.
3. Avoid topical and time-related references
While you might feel like referencing a current TV show or news story might add a bit of colour, humour or impact to the piece, it's important to avoid anything that could anchor the content to a moment in time. This includes any time-indicative phrase that could potentially date your content, such as:
- Earlier this year
- Last week
Even there I've made it obvious that I'm writing this in the 2020s, which means it will need to be updated at the beginning of the 2030s.
4. Freshen up your content regularly
No matter how evergreen your topic is or how well you avoid placing it in a given time period, there will more than likely come a point when you need to update it. Perhaps best practice changed. Perhaps some new information came to light that you feel is worth including. Perhaps a stat is out of date or an external link no longer works. Even an evergreen tree needs to be watered from time to time.
Track the performance of your piece. If you see traffic falling it's a tell-tale sign that your content isn't as evergreen as you thought. This is often because stats, links, processes or language is out of date, so carefully comb through the content, updating where necessary. Depending on the content you may need to do this monthly or annually.
If you haven't already noticed, what you're reading right now is a piece of evergreen content. It's something that our SEO experts at Semalt created, and that we update when necessary. If you'd like some professional help in creating your own piece of evergreen content, our team is ready to lend a hand!
It's time to make that rewarding long-term investment. Contact us today to turn your company blog into an evergreen forest!