In the world of e-commerce sites and digital media, content is crucial to gaining an organic foothold in search engine result pages (SERPs). While large corporations with huge budgets can simply buy ad-placements for various keywords, this route is not an option for many independent writers and entrepreneurs.
So how does a company without the funds for a robust AdWords campaign compete?
Simple. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
What is Evergreen Content?
As anyone who has attempted to get a blog or online business off the ground can attest, writing for the web is in essence writing for search engines. The majority of Internet users access information through search engines, rarely venturing past the first page of the SERPs.
If your content doesn’t show up in Google, your traffic will be sluggish and depressing.
While it is not an impossible feat for a writer to read up on SEO best practices and create content that ranks well in Google, maintaining those rankings can be cumbersome and time intensive.
Ideally, you’d like to create content that ranks well in the SERPs and does not require much maintenance. Of course, this is not always the objective. For instance, news and other content based off trendy topics are intended to produce large numbers of views in a short amount of time, but will quickly lose relevance. This is not a problem for news sites because the next day will always bring more news. It’s a different game.
But, for small businesses and digital media companies, where news is a smaller portion of the content strategy, content that remains relevant to a site’s audience and requires little maintenance is a content marketer’s best friend.
The buzzword used to denote such content is Evergreen content.
As the blog 90octance succinctly states, “Evergreen content is to online breaking news, as books are to newspapers.”
How to Create Evergreen Content
Understanding Your Audience
The first step in creating a successful piece of evergreen content is audience analysis. Who is your audience? What are their needs? What are their desires? What are their demographics? What’s the best voice to use?
Many of these questions can be deduced through simple thought experiments and meditating on the subject, while the rest can be confirmed through tools such as Google Analytics.
Remember: When selecting a topic for your Evergreen Content, you want to choose something that will remain useful and posses a high utility independent of time.
Once you have some ideas about what types of information would be useful to your audience, the next step is to decide on a content framework.
Popular Evergreen Content Frameworks
Content frameworks are the forms articles take. Common types of content frameworks used for Evergreen Content are: how to’s, definitive guides, resource lists, FAQs, glossaries, tips, histories of, product reviews, and opinion pieces on omnipresent industry issues – in short, anything educational.
Writing your Content
Before writing your article, search Google for all articles on the same subject and read them. Understand your competition’s content and capitalize on their content’s weakness.
Did they leave something out? Do you have a differing opinion on a crucial matter that you can argue? Do they offer 10 tips when you can think of 20?
Any way that you can make your content more definitive than the competition’s is something you need to do. You want your content to truly be the best piece of content on the given subject. You want to be the authority on the subject.
More authority = more trust = higher returning visitors and more social shares.
During the actual writing process, make sure to include references to other high-ranking pages and internal links if possible.
Also – and this is key to high utility educational content – make sure to avoid being vague and include plenty of actionable techniques and items. Readers want answers and advice they can use in their lives. That’s the whole reason they entered the search query that brought them to your content in the first place!
Maintaining your Evergreen Content
While a major benefit of Evergreen Content is that it requires little upkeep, some maintenance is still required.
You’ll want to check on your content every other month or so to make sure everything is still relevant and true. All content should be fact-checked on occasion.
Also, you’ll want to re-promote your content to keep it alive. If your posts have a “Published on” date that remains the same regardless of updates, I’d suggest changing that copy to “Last Updated On” and alter the date every time you make edits. This way your audience knows that the content is current and up to date.
Also, I’d add a “Top Posts” widget to your site and feature your content there every so often.
All of these tactics will avoid letting your content drown in your news feed.
The Value of Evergreen Content
The benefits of a successful piece of evergreen content are numerous and important. Some of the most notable benefits are:
• SEO value, high ranking content is a passive lead generator
• Doesn’t date, i.e., remains relevant
• Requires little editorial maintenance, thus cutting down on labor costs
• Traffic curve has potential to continually grow, opposed to trendy news which has a short burst and then falls
• Saves money on SEM
• Evergreen content is likely to be longer than trending news. Longer content does better on social media.
• Generates backlinks: more likely to be seen as authoritative and linked to as a resource
• Can be repeatedly promoted over time
• Can be used as a component of a series
I’d like to spend a moment discussing the last point mentioned. The great part about an educational resource is that it can easily be incorporated into a series.
For example, let’s say you run a digital media company on urban economies. You initially create an article examining the Finance Industry in New York City. The article is a success and you decide to then publish an article on the Pharmaceutical Industry in Philadelphia. This article too is a success and you continue the series, crafting an Industry Spotlight for every major city in America. Afterwards, once the series is complete, you can then create a static resource page on your website that contains thumbnail links to each of the articles in the series.
The resource page for the series is a low-cost added benefit of already completed work. The page will be of high value to your readers and comprehensive in its coverage. After you optimize the on-page copy for the resource page, this page too will rank well for you in the SERPs. Also, given the definitive nature of the resource page, it is highly shareable.
Given the plethora of benefits that evergreen content can offer, it is imperative that you incorporate some evergreen articles into your content marketing strategy. Just remember that while the evergreen is great, it is just one part of your content mix and timely pieces hold the benefits of gaining quick clicks and demonstrating expertise on current events and the pulse of a given niche.