A great majority of the blog content you read, you never read again.
When was the last time you went back and soaked in the glory of this article about Craft-Toberfest? What is “Craft-Toberfest” anyhow? Does anyone care?
Ok I confess, the Craft-Toberfest piece is mine. It might not be the best example of a disposable post. Someone could come back to it next October. But by then there will be newer articles about Oktoberfest.
How about this – by the end of this article I’ll come back to it and we’ll see if it meets any evergreen qualifications.
Why evergreen content?
There’s good reason why sites want to post new content all the time. It’s called SEO. According to Appnovation, new content with 2-3% keyword density will get the highest rating in Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
But what about authoritative posts? If an article isn’t authoritative, if it doesn’t have relevant information, the advice is for sites to take it down during redesign.
The old stuff is called ‘legacy content’. When a third party is linking to an article with “outdated information”, it’s a shoddy legacy for a host site. The host has incentive to take it down and make room for currently relevant content.
That’s why you should write evergreen posts. So your work stays up, so it stays useful to an audience and therefore, a website. Evergreen content maintains authority over time because it continues to be relevant.
But how do you go about writing evergreen posts?
Consider overall relevance
Whatever niche you’re working in, there are underlying topics of relevance. Let’s stay right here at home and consider the SEO niche.
Here’s an example of a piece that’s not evergreen – it’s an SEO trends piece that will only apply to 2016:
Yes, Google cares about quality. And this piece will be highly useful to look back to in the future as a reference point. We’ll be able to ask, ‘how have the SEO trends changed since this was published?’
But we won’t be able to say, ‘this is a stand-alone piece I look to for SEO info no matter what year it is’. It’s not meant to be.
This piece, on the other hand, deals with the underlying concept of SEO as we know it:
Note that the piece is keyed on content marketing – highly relevant for Jeff Bullas’ niche. It’s looking at the underlying topic of using your content to optimize for search engines.
It’s a tricky niche for evergreen content. Google is always changing. But the post gets at the underlying factors at hand:
- We create content as a marketing tool
- We can optimize that content for Google’s search engine
- We have to adapt our strategy to Google’s changes
- There are tools we can use to do this
From this, we learn:
- Evergreen content doesn’t limit itself to current trends
- Evergreen content keys in on a topic highly relevant to a site’s niche
- Evergreen content is addressed more to beginners than experts
Create staying power
Author Taylor Tomita posted the example above about six months ago. If the post is evergreen, it will continue garnering views, comments, likes, shares, and backlinks.
The post has the hallmarks of being evergreen, but is it evergreen? Six months isn’t long enough to tell. Let’s look at a certifiably evergreen post and analyze what gives it staying power.
One way to tell if content is evergreen is by looking at its backlinks. In terms of search engine rankings, backlinks are the third most important factor.
If I Google “content marketing” this article comes up first:
It’s no wonder this is first. If I go to Moz and enter the URL for this post in Open Site Explorer, I see it has 11,524 total backlinks, which earns the article a higher Page Authority than the domain it’s on:
This includes 386 links discovered in the last 60 days. So the article continues to maintain credibility. Why?
You might say, ‘it’s number one in Google for “content marketing” because the name of the site is contentmarketinginstitute.com.’ Duh. But the article wouldn’t still keep getting links purely because of the domain it’s on.
The article keeps getting links because:
- It offers definitive insights – gives us an authoritative definition
- It’s well-written – not many people want to link to a post with sloppy grammar, inaccessible language, or tons of typos
- It has been promoted on social channels, and it’s been shared more than four-thousand times – this increases visibility and increases likelihood of getting links
- It tackles a topic head-on – it poses a question and provides an answer
- It provides links to other helpful articles on the site
Truthfully, the clincher for the article is its clear and prominent definition of content marketing. A ton of the articles linking to it quote this definition.
What is value? Value is service. Value means a reader can return to the post again for information. Or, the reader returns because it’s just a gem of a post and they want to share it.
There are specific kinds of posts more equipped to provide value than others.
The How-To Post
Not all of these apply. If it’s a how-to about tech that will soon be outdated, or a ‘how to win at SEO this year’, it’s not evergreen. The how-to makes for great evergreen material because plenty of people Google ‘how to_______’.
Here’s an evergreen how-to:
Simple. The post has about twelve hundred words. It contains a good deal of information, detailing different options on how to pay for business school, with appropriate links. The subject matter is not likely to get old in the foreseeable future. Done and done.
The Tips-and-Tricks Post
Similar to the how-to, the ‘tips’ post aims to inform. It’s more suggestive and less comprehensive, which opens it up to a serial format. But the individual tips article stands on its own:
This offers the chance for visually-rich content.
Each tip should be unique.
Tips in the above post are highly focused on the subject matter, meant for beginners, and include tools.
Including suggestions on tools is a great way to add value.
The History Post
Posts about the history of something are a challenge. For one, you’re competing with a lot of definitive educational content (and Wikipedia). Two, you need to be comprehensive – to an extent.
If your focus is tight enough in your niche you can avoid a lot of lengthy exposition on a broad topic. Instead of a history of marketing, a history of content marketing. Both of these articles show up ahead of Wikipedia in the SERP:
Courtesy of Uberflip
Courtesy of TodayMade
Note both of these titles do two things:
- Include “history of” in the title – the Wiki page does not do this
- Make a claim towards uniqueness – the history is ‘not what you think’, or it is the ‘real’ history
The content in both the articles is easier to read than the Wiki, with more visuals.
The List Post
We’ve all seen these. To be evergreen, they need to offer a definitive list of resources:
Courtesy of Simplilearn
115 is so many, it’s tough to imagine more. Provide links to each resource. It doesn’t hurt to have a catchy title. The thing about lists, though, is that the links may expire, so make sure to go back and check them periodically.
In the example above, the author offers links to key articles on inbound marketing. Articles offering insights are great resources to link to, because site managers rarely remove them. Especially if they’re evergreen.
The FAQ Post
Frequently Asked Questions get at the root of your niche and directly reflect what people want to know.
Here’s an example from Problogger:
The formula is simple:
- Pay attention to the most frequently asked questions on your site
- Weed out the questions that are dated or part of a current trend in your niche
- Take the remaining top questions and turn them into blog posts
FAQ posts get at the heart of evergreen content as a beginner’s jumping-off point. They address what’s really important to your audience.
The Definition Post
The “What is Content Marketing” post I analyzed earlier is a good example of a definition post. Another option is to define an acronym in your niche, then analyze it.
A post defining ‘SERP’opens itself up to a discussion on the evolution of search engines, and how engines such as Google use algorithms.
A post defining CMS opens itself up to how sites use Content Management Systems, the benefits of open source, etc.
In any case, the difficult thing about definition posts is there are a ton out there already. When I put “Content Management System” into Google I get nearly 300 hundred million results. They aren’t all definition posts, but I’m contending with Wikipedia in the top three spots.
That’s why I go back to Taylor Tomita’s article on “How to Maximize Your Content Marketing Strategy with Search Engines”. Since it’s an evergreen article, I can look to it for lasting advice. I want to know how to make my hypothetical ‘What is CMS’ post rank in Google. Getting it to rank will drive brand awareness. An evergreen post on content marketing will definitely serve my purposes.
Here are some other ideas for evergreen posts:
- Personal Posts: it’s a risk because people might not care; but if you master your niche posts about you and your experience scream authority
- Biographies: a lively and detailed biography of an industry leader (especially one who’s passed away) is of use to everyone
- Interviews: like bios, interviews of industry leaders or up-and-comers (or Jane Doe if she’s interesting) help grant authority to your content
- Case studies: this is the bio of a brand’s success (or failure); people will refer back to these later on when they’re doing research
- Motivational: motivation, and the lack thereof, is timeless; make sure it relates to your niche
- Myth–buster: if you’re lucky enough to discover a myth in your industry, tear it down and your post will stand forever
- Humorous: good evergreen humor tells the truth and pokes fun at industry foibles
- Strategic: this is like a how-to or tips post, but more cerebral and philosophical; make sure to stay grounded
Do you have other ideas for evergreen posts? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Did the Craft-toberfest post at the beginning pass the evergreen test? Well, it does detail the history of Oktoberfest. But it’s not offering insights to beginners and it’s not necessarily at the core of the niche (craft brewing). An evergreen example would be ‘Best Ways to Celebrate Oktoberfest around the World’ or something like that.
Evergreen is what sticks. With that, the ultimate test is time. Develop a core of evergreen articles that nail the core of your niche. Then, your more timely articles can refer back to the evergreen daddies again and again.
Guest Author: Daniel Matthews is a writer, part-time social worker, and musician who loves to explore topics ranging from technology to business culture and psychology. He has written for Social Media Today, Triple Pundit, Smart Data Collective, and YFS Magazine, among others. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0