How to Create Evergreen Content for Your Website

January 09, 2014

Evergreen content contains information that remains useful, relevant and sought after for a long period of time. Showcasing evergreen content on your website has many benefits:

  1. Evergreen content reinforces your standing as a thought leader
  2. It drives unbranded search engine traffic year-in and year-out
  3. It attracts natural inbound links, since it's more likely to be cited on other niche sites
  4. It can support your sales effort by supplying persuasive responses to common buyer objections

Types of Evergreen Content

  • "How-to" articles provide step-by-step instructions for putting something together, accomplishing a task (such as creating evergreen content :)), solving a business problem, etc.
  • Glossary of terms articles give authoritative definitions for a comprehensive set of terms relating to a particular product, industry, academic discipline, etc.
  • "Do's and Don'ts" articles show readers the right way and the wrong way to do something.
  • Product reviews give readers detailed insights that help them make a buying decision. Automotive sites like Edmunds and Car and Driver live on this type of content.

What other examples of evergreen content can you think of?

How to Find Topics for Evergreen Content

  • Quiz your sales and customer service departments. What questions do they encounter on a regular basis? What terms or ideas do they continually have to explain? What kind of information are they always scrambling to find? The answers to questions like these can be shaped into an evergreen article.
  • Quiz your suppliers and stakeholders. Your suppliers, accounting firm and attorneys may be aware of critical areas of confusion in your industry -- areas you may not be thinking about a great deal.
  • What information are you always looking for? Back in 2011, our sales team was having trouble finding articles that explained the differences between mobile sites, mobile apps, and mobile display -- so we wrote one. It's still being used by our sales team and still draws good traffic.
  • Ask customers directly. If you have a monthly e-newsletter, why not ask customers what they'd like to see you write an article about? (You may want to provide a list of options to make it easier for them to respond.)
  • Brainstorming sessions can yield terrific results. Employee A may have the germ of a great idea, Employee B adds a critical piece to it, and Employee C adds on a seemingly minor tweak that transforms the idea into a timeless article.

What other ways of finding evergreen content can you think of?

How to Write Evergreen Content

It's not enough to come up with a great idea and title. For an article to reach true evergreen status, it must have two characteristics in particular: it must be authoritative and it must be readable. If you're not authoritative, nobody will believe you. If you're not readable, nobody will bother to read or share your content no matter how believable it is.

-- As a side note, notice I did not mention originality as a key characteristic of evergreen content.There's nothing wrong with being original, but almost by definition, evergreen content takes on a topic of wide interest and importance. The "secret sauce" of your evergreen content isn't necessarily an original idea, but instead, how clearly and thoroughly you explain the idea, and how well you synthesize or critique different points of view.

Tips for writing authoritatively

  • Attend to the basics. Use proper grammar and punctuation, and avoid jargon and slang. Misspellings and other errors needlessly undermine your credibility.
  • Do your research. Albert Einstein said, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." That's a great standard for evergreen writers to live up to.
  • Cite your sources. When you make an important assertion or state a fact or statistic, link to the source. Readers are more inclined to trust content that demonstrates a high level of research.
  • Establish author credibility. The Google Authorship program is an attempt to help searchers identify authoritative authors. Whether you participate or not, if the writer of your evergreen content has an impressive bio that appears in or links to the content, you've gone a long way toward establishing content credibility.

Tips for writing readably

  • Keep it simple. Remember the Einstein quote from the last section. No matter how sophisticated your target reader is, straightforward, plain language is always appreciated. That means simple words, simple sentences, clear meaning. But remember: simple is not easy. It takes talented writers to strip away complexity.
  • Use web typography best practices. Bullet points beat long paragraphs. Plain text is easier on the eyes than italics and bold. Descriptive subtitles assist in scanning and helping readers understand the flow of ideas. Looking for an evergreen post on web typography? Here's a good one from 2009 using the "Do's and Don'ts" approach.
  • Do substantive editing. Proofreaders edit for punctuation and grammar. Substantive editors edit for clarity, conciseness and accuracy. For content with evergreen aspirations, substantive editing is a must.

Which Content Format Should I Use?

  • Text articles are appropriate for most any type of evergreen content. From an SEO point of view, text articles (web pages or blog posts) usually draw the most search traffic, and probably appeal to the widest audience.
  • White papers make sense for extremely detailed material. If a text article gets to 2000-2500 words, you're definitely getting into white paper territory. Don't pad the story just to make it a white paper, though. Readers will see it as a marketing maneuver.
  • Infographics are well suited for complex ideas, step-by-step descriptions of a process, and for topics with lots of facts and figures.
  • Slide presentations are also useful for infographic situations, and also when a storytelling approach is employed.
  • Video is powerful for just about any topic, but production costs are high. Video can be used effectively and economically for "quick hit" evergreen ideas. You see this approach frequently in the tech world, with short videos about how to customize your Mac desktop, how to pair a Bluetooth device, etc.

SEO and Marketing Tips for Evergreen Content

  • Use relevant keyword phrases in the article's Meta title. Write a unique and persuasive Meta description -- it will help with social sharing.
  • Evergreen content need not be lengthy, but as of this writing, Google favors longer (1000+ words) over shorter, so keep that in mind.
  • Share evergreen content on your social media pages on a regular basis (e.g., one or twice a month).
  • Review Google Analytics stats to see trends in how content is performing, especially in terms of page views, length of time on the page and bounce rate.
  • Let bloggers in your niche know about your evergreen content -- they may want to mention it on their blogs and link to it.
  • Market your content to your customer and prospect base by featuring it in e-newsletters or on a "featured post" section of your blog's sidebar.

Over to You

What advice do you have for evergreen content creation? What's worked for you?

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