One of the most important rules of content creation is that you should include a strong amount of short, long-form, visual, and, what’s known as evergreen content.
Evergreen content is, in essence, content that lasts for years and years. To me, it is the crème de la crème of content marketing.
You write it to answer your clients’, or your audience’s, biggest questions. It’s the content you should be taking the most time over. And Google loves it because it’s typically long-form, published as a blog type of content (although it can also be a landing page), and it often contains long-tail keywords, which are easy winners (they are often low competition with a good search volume). Win, win, win.
So just how can you create evergreen content for your brand? Keep reading!
What Exactly is Evergreen Content?
To start our guide on how you can create evergreen content, let’s begin with defining evergreen content.
A few examples of evergreen content are:
- In-depth analysis or facts that continue to garner interest in the general public or in your niche, commonly published as a blog or landing page. Topics like World War II, fashion in 1920s America, the discovery of certain ingredients in today’s cuisine, or cases of supposed UFO abductions are difficult to make time-sensitive because of their lasting impact on the world. This lasting impact places them in the hearts of many people around the world and will surely continue to drive those wishing to learn more to your content. The difficulty with some of these topics is that the well has been run seemingly dry for the broad scope. You’ll need to dig deep to find a way to put a new spin on them. BuzzSumo’s study on 600,000 posts analyzing how to answer customer questions is a great example.
- Ideas – The ability to exchange ideas is something that makes humanity unique from the animal kingdom. Needless to say, the marketplace of ideas is brimming and constantly being added to, evolving, and being made a reference point. If you don’t think the exchange of ideas is an evergreen topic, then you’ve clearly never been inside a philosophy, political science, or art history class. Those venues are lively with debate and novel ideas based on thinkers throughout written history. A Huffington Post author’s article on responses to people talking about her son with autism is a good example.
- How-to guides, tips and tricks – Certain types of guides, such as “How to install this specific graphics card into this specific computer” aren’t exactly evergreen. It will probably go out of date in a year or two. Other types of guides, such as “How to bake the perfect cake” or “How to tie a tie” are sure to receive attention and hits for as long as you need them to. Our evergreen content guide right here is an example! These are often published as a blog or a landing page.
- Industry resources – Shout outs to some of the top people in the business or niche are great ways to create evergreen content. Find established names that have been around for quite some time and are sure to be around for several more years can mean a great deal for your content. We did this in our post on top 60 content marketers to follow on Twitter.
- Glossaries – Does your industry or niche have specific jargon that the general public doesn’t get, but the layperson with an interest would need to know? Glossaries or guides to your niche are wonderful resources for anyone interested in learning about your specialty without needing an advanced degree in what you do. We’ve done this in our post on 50 weak words and phrases to avoid.
What Evergreen Content is Not
On the other hand, evergreen content is not:
- Media reviews – Some people can get away with reviewing older books, movies, video games, or music as their content of choice but they do two things. First, they target a specific niche with that content. Second, they have other content that is either timeless or involving more recent events. Any movie/critic review site is an example of this.
- Current events – This should be obvious but current events that aren’t necessarily going to change the world aren’t going to garner much interest in the coming years. This is absolutely necessary for almost any content creator, but for the most part you’ll want to throw in evergreen content in between current events. The entire news category on Huffington Post is an example of this.
- Recent studies or statistics – Citing a study that recently came out in Nature isn’t evergreen content… yet. While recent studies and statistics are subject to change, old studies (even faulty ones) can become evergreen content. In the world of marketing, a case study from last year is subject to refinement or change and not evergreen content: in contrast, the analysis of Howard Moskowitz’ study into the types of spaghetti sauce people wanted, and didn’t know they wanted, can be considered evergreen.
- Technology – Anything that doesn’t involve the history of technology should be considered extremely time sensitive and pretty much obsolete within two years. This is because of the breakneck pace at which technology evolves over time. For proof of this, consider how quickly your mobile device or computer because an ancient relic. Any CNet tech review is an example of this.
Why Do I Want Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content is extremely reliable and stable. It is content that lasts for years.
Lasting content is also important to maintain relevancy. You don’t want your visitors wading through old and out of date content when they could be finding things they may consider fascinating even years after you’ve created it.
This type of content also gives you a sense of authority in your field. Rather than giving off the appearance of rattling off what the most recent papers have said, it presents you as someone who has thought deeply about your niche and have considered the most recent developments with past events and is able to critically think about the world of your realm of content creation.
With a great amount of evergreen content that is relevant and insightful years down the road, you’ll likely find spikes in hits as your content is discovered and rediscovered over time. This will lead to immense amounts of sharing over the lifetime of the content, which is ideally forever, and that translates into more and more people viewing your content.
Because of the constant sharing, revisiting, and people subscribing to your content, you’ll find your rankings skyrocket the more evergreen content you mix into your repertoire. Not only will your ranking continue to move upwards, evergreen content will help you avoid plummeting, so long as you continue writing. This upward mobility will soon allow you to be one of the envied 10% in your industry or niche.
If you write updatable content, about an event that comes around once a year for example, then you’ll still find it to be evergreen in a way and will be able to count on regular spikes in your content. The difficulty with that type of content is that it needs to be maintained or it will quickly become time sensitive and obsolete.
Evergreen content also gives you, as a content creator, the ability to relax if necessary. Since you’ll get continued and maybe increasing hits on your content, if something comes up and you’ll need, or want, to put off your regular schedule, you can without too much sacrifice.
9 Rules on How to Craft Evergreen Content
Evergreen content usually won’t just come to you on a silver platter. Oftentimes it’s something you’ll have to work at and brainstorm for. But there are some surefire tips that will keep you creating original and evergreen content for years to come.
1. Keep an idea book handy
With an idea book, you’ll be able to keep a hold on possibly fleeting genius thoughts for evergreen content. In fact, many of your ideas will be evergreen pieces due to the fact that you likely won’t be reading the latest news during most of your inspirational moments.
It’s also a nice way to look back at previous ideas you wanted to, but simply couldn’t, flesh out. Come back to those great ideas later and sooner or later you’ll be able to tackle them.
My “idea book” is a live Google doc. I share it with my team (see #2).
2. Brainstorm (With Your Team)
Every now and again you’ll want to simply brainstorm. Do this once a week for a certain amount of time. The amount of time you spend on brainstorming is completely up to you.
When you start brainstorming, write the ideas down in your idea book without judgment. Whatever comes into your head is worth putting down at this point, even if it sounds ridiculous at the time.
If you have a team, brainstorm with them. Pull an office board meeting. I’ve done this, and have been thrilled with some of the concepts for long-lasting content topics that my staff have come up with. You can very commonly pull clients’ questions as some of your biggest evergreen content piece topics.
Don’t use the ideas immediately after you put them on paper. Let them simmer for a while and see what makes the bigger impact on you in the coming weeks. When you figure out what sticks with you, you’ve figured out what will likely stick with your audience.
3. Hone Down & Choose an Idea
Some ideas may seem ludicrous when they’re first written down. Maybe they’re goofy. Maybe they seem too lofty. Maybe they seem too difficult to tackle. Whatever the case may be, it’s still important to keep them around for your moments of clarity and insight.
Take a look at your ideas every few days to find inspiration. Maybe it’s an idea directly from the book or maybe it’s an idea triggered by the book. Regardless, you’ll want to have a few ready to go in order to write ahead of your schedule.
4. Research Further
Once you have your stellar idea down for your piece of evergreen content, delve into the idea further. First of all, find out if anyone else has covered the topic. If they have, you may want to modify your content or dig a little deeper in order to make it original and evergreen. Tools like BuzzSumo are great for researching.
After you know that your idea is original and incredible, research the surrounding topics for anything that you’ll be able to reference or draw from in your piece. Most likely your idea won’t occur in a vacuum. Find articles, books, websites, blogs, and other pieces of content that support your position.
5. Plan Your Piece
At this point you’ll likely have assorted, disorganized pieces of a puzzle. Now it’s time to put them together into a cohesive, organized whole.
As cliché as it is, it’s usually best to start at the beginning. Introduce concepts, characters, events, and other important facts into the beginning of your content.
With certain ideas that don’t contain a timeline, it may be of use to start from a broad perspective, focus on your key points, and bring them together. With concepts that have a temporal frame of reference it can be useful to take the events in order, one by one. Obviously these guidelines can be eschewed or modified if necessary, but they’re good rules of thumb if you’re stuck on where to begin or what to write next.
6. Write Your Content
This step should be obvious. In order to be a content creator, you have to create content.
Within writing content, there are a few steps that you’ll want to be mindful of.
First of all, write your content using your outline as a guide. Don’t worry about the details and don’t worry about editing. Simply write and follow the outline as much as possible.
Next, go through and organize your thoughts further. Ensure that each point blends seamlessly into the next point and that it all makes logical sense from beginning to end.
Finally, labor over every word, comma, phrase, and period. Make sure that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are exactly how they should be.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Post WITH a Date, Just Not in the Title
Part of writing evergreen content is its timelessness. BUT, you might upset your reader if you don’t have a timestamp on your content.
Here’s what I mean:
- You DO want to have the date of your evergreen content piece show up if it’s posted as a blog, I.E. my Top 60 Content Marketers shows a posting date of October 27, 2015, but is forever relevant
- You DON’T want a year, season, or date addressed in the title itself. I.E. one of my #ContentWritingChat Recaps has a date in the title and therefore is “dated” content, which is fine; it’s just a recap of a dated event for SEO/reading purposes
8. Share On Social Media
Don’t be shy; promote yourself! Tell your friends about your grand ideas and let them share the content with their friends and so on.
Shares on social media directly correlate to visitors and more shares, which means a better ranking for your site and a wider audience for your future posts. Once people see the value in the piece of evergreen content you’ve made, they’ll continue to come back and find more useful, evergreen content that they can use in their daily lives.
9. Update & Audit
Even the most timeless pieces of content need love from time to time. This is especially true of blogs and articles.
If you’re doing your seasonal web content audits like you should, you may find that some of your information is outdated, that links are dead, and that new developments have been made. Take the time every now and again to update and repost your content with fresh links, more information, or expanded ideas. This will make sure your evergreen content really does stay evergreen.
Key Tips to Optimize & Create Your Best Evergreen Content
When you’re creating your evergreen content it’s important to keep in mind several rules that you’ll generally want to abide by. These will ensure that your content stays relevant and fresh forever.
- Optimize your content with keywords: Don’t write FOR the keyword, but be sure to include it. The good thing of evergreen content is that it’s often long-tail keyword friendly, and long-tail keywords are easy to rank for. So, if you want your content to be viewed and continue to get hits long after you’ve written it, make sure that people can find it even when you’re not actively promoting it. Ensure that keywords are scattered throughout, your metadata is searchable, and that your title is punchy and to the point. Let your viewer know exactly what they’re getting when they come to view your content.
- Make it what you want to be known for: You never know what piece of content is going to elevate you from an unknown to a household name. Make sure that it’s something you’ll want to be known for, because that will follow your name for years and years. Moreover, don’t let your evergreen content be outside of your niche. You don’t want to suddenly be known for something totally outside your realm of expertise because you won’t be able to deliver that kind of content on a regular basis. What you can do is deliver expert content within your niche on a regular basis. Make sure people are flocking to you for that.
- Don’t push products: It’s easier not to push products if your product is your content. For those of you who do have goods and services, it may be much more difficult to avoid product placement. Your blogs, videos, and articles aren’t the time to push your products or services. That type of content is much more useful as an honest, interesting, and useful guide that will help people gain perspective, gather information, or become interested in your field. By all means, put a link to your website near the content or have it hosted on your website, but don’t put your business or its wares in the content itself. Let your audience find out why you’re the authority and people will find their way to you.
- Fill the needs of the audience: When creating your content, think about why you’re creating it. What is the audience going to gain from being exposed to your content? Why should they care? Considering these questions in an objective and honest way is how you’ll make excellent evergreen content. After all, if it doesn’t provide any service in and of itself, why should anyone care to give it more than a passing glance?
- Stir emotions: Make sure to engage your audience as well as give them something useful. If you don’t create a world within your content then it may as well not be there at all. Your content may be the most informative, authoritative, definitive piece on the Internet but only a few people are going to bother to read it if it doesn’t tap into something deep inside the reader or viewer, people will pass it by. Of those that do read it, very few will be inclined to share it, even if they find it useful. Why? Because their friends won’t get any feeling from it and they might worry it won’t be interesting to their friends.
- Keep it long: Contrary to the popular belief thrust upon us by the sound byte culture we sometimes live in, authority still lies in the details. Details and nuance are important aspects of well thought out, informative, inspiriting, and interesting content. This is especially true if you want your content to be original and evergreen. Dive deeper into the details your customer may already know. Support your claims with facts from the experts. Provide a unique spin on an old topic. Any of those options will necessitate a lot more than a measly 300 or 500 words.
- Include custom visuals: If your content is strictly written, consider providing visuals as a supplement to your written work, whether it is through pictures or videos. These cues will aid a reader in deciphering a point you’ve made, give the reader a stopping point if necessary, or even simply give an interesting illustration of the topic at hand.
- Write for your audience: Remember, you’re the expert, speaking to the audience in your niche. Know what they know already, and don’t insult anyone’s intelligence: but start from the beginning of your expertise, and be thorough. All in all, it’s good to assume your reader has no, or a small amount, of understanding about what it is you’d like to tell them, since you’re talking from your area of expertise. This ensures that your content isn’t just evergreen to experts, but that more people can access it and find it useful for their lives. Which translates to more shares and more views in the long run.
Overall, evergreen content is some of the more difficult, but more rewarding, content that can be written for any brand. It will expose your brand to a wide audience years after you’ve completed it and will establish you as an authoritative voice in your niche.