Evergreen content is, quite simply, content that is always relevant. It doesn’t matter if you created it five minutes or five years ago — it still has use for your reader today.
Evergreen content is also a huge help to you, the content creator, in that it has a long shelf life. You can reshare evergreen blog posts on your blog far past the date they were published. You can repackage evergreen content over and over, creating new content types and bringing in the traffic long after the original publication date.
Kevan Lee, from the Buffer blog does an excellent job of use a graph to illustrate the power of evergreen content. In the image below, as shown on the Buffer blog, you can see the traffic spike on the date of publication. In the following days, traffic dwindles.
In the graph below, we see how different evergreen content is. Traffic grows after publication instead of tapering off.
What are the qualities that make content evergreen? According to Lee, you need to:
- Be the definitive source.
- Write for beginners.
- Narrow your focus.
That’s a good foundation, but let’s delve a bit more into how to create evergreen content both in the actual creation and how it is packaged. Let’s look at some key questions to answer in order to create great evergreen content.
1. Does your blog post need to be dated?
Some bloggers prefer permalinks and blog templates that do not reveal the date of publication. They worry that readers will see the date on the post and not bother to read the article if it’s too old, even if the content is still relevant.
Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger, has had his own experience with readers rejecting valid content, just because of the date. Still, Rowse maintains dates on his posts. Why?
Because some blogs are in fast-moving industries and their readers expect to see a date. Rowse has a digital photography blog which he does not use dates on, due to the timeless nature of the content there.
And let’s not forget that dated posts also tell your readers that you are updating your blog. If they can see that the most recent post is of a recent date, then they know your blog is healthy and active.
If your readers complain about a lack of a date on your post (and they might, since blogs originally were based on dated, ordered entries), you can rectify the situation a few ways, providing a date without letting the date be the first thing readers see.
- Put the date at the bottom of the post. (The CoSchedule blog uses this method.)
- Use a smaller or lighter font for the date so it doesn’t stand out.
- Remove the date from the URL but keep it in the post.
2. What topics are always relevant in your niche?
If you are blogging about the travel industry, a blog post about this season’s hottest hotels is not evergreen. A blog post about what to pack when traveling to Thailand, though, is. Both posts might be relevant on your blog, but only one will stand the test of time. How do you know which is which?
Brainstorming a topic bank is a technique that can help you determine what is always relevant for your specific audience. Make a list of the topics that always seem to come up in conversations with customers or readers. Think of the questions you hear the most in your industry. There are so many possible evergreen content ideas (yes, that link will give you a list of 49 to get started with).
In general, evergreen content will not happen from topics that:
- Are date/season centered.
- Have anything to do with trends.
- Are breaking news.
- Are reliant on current data or statistics.
Evergreen content will come from posts that:
- Tell how to do something. (Though some tutorials, especially with software, will become dated when new versions come out.)
- Share the history of something. (Your story, your business, your biggest mistake, your amazing achievement. People want to know.)
- Are interviews. (Even if your interviewee changes opinions down the road, the interview is still a valid point of record.)
- Define terms and explain industry terms or ideas. (This is ideal newbie information, which is key to creating evergreen content.)
- Answer common reader questions (FAQ).
Who is your audience? Who are your customers? Which topics have they shown interest in? What do your traffic and social analytics tell you as far as the content readers like the most?
These are your evergreen topics.
3. How will you create evergreen content?
The longer the copy, the better, frankly.
But let’s look at Kevan Lee’s suggestion that evergreen content is often geared for beginners. That makes incredible sense. Lee is not the only one who agrees, with the Blog Tyrant going as far as saying that expert content is killing your blog.
Most people reading blogs are people eager to learn. They aren’t the expert. The experts, like you, already know what they know. So how do you write for beginners and build that evergreen content that they are so excited to share with other newbies?
- Narrow topics. Beginners aren’t able to process a wide scope just yet. They need information explained, in detail, piece by piece. Instead of a blog post about email content marketing, start with a post on how to format your email newsletter. Give these beginner readers the tools so that they can understand the next level in context.
- Series. Content created in an ordered series, and linked accordingly so readers can easily go from one to the next. This helps you keep your topics narrow, and it also helps your reader.
- Abandon pride. This is not the time to use undefined jargon or acronyms so you feel as if you are smart. Readers need to be able to understand. Your goal is clarity, not proving how smart you are.
4. Do you have a sharing and promotion plan in place?
Evergreen content that is not regularly brought back to the surface is completely wasted. You can’t expect your readers to find all of your evergreen content on their own.
- Social media. Create a comprehensive social sharing plan where you regularly share and reshare (not spam) your evergreen content — even your “old” stuff — with followers. Remember, you’re getting new followers every day. That old post might be new to many of them.
- Email course. Creating an email autoresponder course out of your evergreen content is an excellent way to share it with readers and get them to share it on their own social media accounts. Find evergreen content on a related topic, and create a series of emails that will arrive in their inbox each week based on that content.
- Feature on your blog. Regularly feature your evergreen posts in your sidebar or below your blog posts. Create a category in your blog just for these posts, and cycle them through a slider. Create a “top posts” section, or call them “training guides”. Make these older posts easily visible on your blog. In other words, make them prominent on your blog.
- Use them as base content. As you write posts, keep this evergreen content in mind. Regularly link to them in your new blog posts, or insert a “recommended reading” callout in the post. Because they are evergreen, they are likely an excellent resource and handy to reference, keeping you from having to explain everything repeatedly.
- Repurpose your content. If you’ve created an evergreen blog post with 2,000 words, you definitely have enough to be creating infographics, slide decks, social graphics, videos, and more. Reuse that evergreen content by turning it into something different, and give it new life.
Evergreen content that goes nowhere might still be evergreen, but it won’t get any traffic.
5. Are you maintaining your evergreen content?
Even the best evergreen content may need an update now and then. The best evergreen post may have one or two pieces of information that have become outdated. If this is the case, note at the top that the post was updated, and clearly mark in the post where and what the update was. That lets readers know you aren’t letting the information go stagnant, and it also ensures you’re providing the best information you can.
Additionally, keep an eye on your content in terms of SEO. How is it holding up in search? Are the keywords in shape? Are there new SEO considerations in the year or two since you wrote it?
Evergreen content is always relevant, but it still gets cobwebs once in a while. Dust them off.
6. Do you have a blog where evergreen is impossible?
Not every blog is a great fit for evergreen content. Content that is data-heavy — using current statistics — will have a short shelf-life. At most, it will only be useful after the immediate publishing date for bloggers who want to reference it for historical purposes (e.g. compare and contrast).
And, of course, if your blog is all about breaking news before everyone else, then do it well even if it is irrelevant in a week. Evergreen content is not your concern.
But, for other bloggers, a regular mix of evergreen content with timely pieces will serve you well. Make the effort to create evergreen content. When done well, it actually saves you time. Your one-time effort keeps doing work for you. Over time, according to HubSpot, evergreen content ranks well in search engines, bring in traffic to your site overall, and generate leads. That’s exactly what you want.
Have you published evergreen content on your blog? Share it below as a comment and let me know how it has performed!