Does your content strategy use the “lucky” of the green?
If you publish evergreen content, it does.
Evergreen content feels like a lucky strike – reaching a person at the exact moment they need it. Devoting some percentage of the content you produce to evergreen topics helps you get the most from your content marketing investment. It also can generate growth in subscribers, followers, or customers by serving go-to help and guidance website visitors want.
Think of including evergreen content in your strategy as seeding a forest of opportunities for your brand’s content marketing.
What is evergreen content?
By definition, evergreen content stays “fresh” and has no expiration date. The term derives from trees and bushes that keep their green needles regardless of the season (they never go dormant). Similarly, evergreen content maintains or increases its value during a long (sometimes infinite) shelf life because it’s relevant – but not necessarily timely.
Content marketing is all about delivering the right content to the right person at the right time. But zeroing in on the exact moment a specific person needs a particular content piece isn’t easy.
Including evergreen content (blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, etc.) as part of your marketing strategy helps. Think of your evergreen pieces as the canned goods in your content arsenal. A well-stocked content pantry means visitors will always find something worth consuming.
1. Choose an evergreen topic (and make it timeless)
You probably already have a lot of evergreen content – or potential evergreen content – in your library. They’re the timeless pieces (often SEO champions) that attract visitors month after month.
Here’s an example. Betty Crocker sells cake mixes and frosting, so articles that explain how to decorate a cake make sense for the company’s content marketing strategy. The brand’s evergreen article It’s the Perfect Time To Try These 5 Surprisingly Easy Cake Decorating Techniques appears high on the search result page for “how to decorate a cake.”
What makes this piece evergreen? First, notice that the headline doesn’t tie the article to any event or holiday, even though cakes figure prominently in birthdays and seasonal celebrations.
Even though the publish date (March 19, 2020) appears at the top of the page, most readers won’t care even if they notice. After all, basic cake decorating tips don’t expire or change drastically.
Notice, too, that the multiple cakes on display offer enough variety to avoid limiting their appeal. (The pastel pink cakes might bring to mind Valentine’s Day, Easter, or a birthday, but the chocolate cakes keep the image applicable to more than just those events.)
TIP: Avoid trendy or seasonal images in evergreen articles. Timeless images send the signal that the content remains relevant today.
Now, let’s look at the first paragraph:
If you’ve got time and energy, we’ve got the techniques you need to make beautifully decorated cakes. And don’t worry, there’s no experience required. Despite their impressive looks, these techniques are beginner-friendly!
That paragraph could have been written yesterday or 30 years ago. Regardless, someone who wants to know how to decorate a cake – a member of Betty Crocker’s target audience – would still find the helpful advice.
2. Create evergreen content about timely topics
Although evergreen pieces should be timeless, you can write about timely topics in an evergreen way.
For example, I wrote an article called Should the News Disrupt Your Content Calendar? Here’s How To Decide two years ago. Look at the publish date: March 17, 2020.
You can guess which “news” I was thinking about when I wrote it. But I didn’t mention the pandemic or COVID-19 in the article. The topic – news disrupting your planned content – felt timely, but I wrote it in an evergreen style by not focusing specifically on the news of that moment.
Tip: Before creating content about a timely topic, brainstorm all the related possibilities. Then, ask yourself which ideas would serve your audience well now and in the future. Prioritize the development of these ideas.
3. Turn existing content into evergreen pieces
You can modify existing content to create an evergreen version – even if you hadn’t planned the piece as evergreen from the start.
Let’s look at how the process could work using this article from NerdWallet: How To Find the Best Tax Preparer or Tax Advisor Near You. It’s dated Jan. 21, 2022 – timely for the current tax season. The article covers seven fairly timeless tips for finding a good local tax preparer. But the fourth tip includes dated information – a statistic about the average fees in 2020 – that makes the article already feel a little less than fresh.
To create an evergreen version of that article, NerdWallet could simply remove that sentence. This minor edit would have little impact on the article’s usefulness – it’s a nice-to-have detail that’s not necessary to the piece’s value.
Think about how you can modify sections of your timely content to create evergreen versions of them. It may be as simple as writing a new intro to take out seasonal or dated references and publishing a new version.
The work needed to republish evergreen versions of your content would likely take fewer hours than creating an entirely new piece.
4. Link out to timely info
Evergreen content can still encompass a timely element without mentioning the time in the actual article. Let’s go back to the NerdWallet example. It includes a bullet (and link) that reads, “Find a local tax preparer for free: See who’s available to help with your taxes in your area.”
That list will change every year. But the article remains evergreen (but still helpful) because it doesn’t include the frequently changing details – it simply points readers to a page where the (presumably frequently updated) information lives.
5. Plan to create evergreen content
You probably create evergreen content without giving a second thought to its “evergreen-ness.” But taking a deliberate approach to planning and creating evergreen content will bring you more luck, prosperity, and growth.
Follow these tips to ensure evergreen content is part of your content planning:
- Think about each content piece’s topic and purpose. Which ones would do as well as evergreen content?
- Schedule a minimum number of evergreen pieces. You might decide to designate a percentage of total expected content creation to evergreen topics. Or you might plan to publish on evergreen topics two times a month, three times a week, or on some other interval. The point is to create it purposefully.
- Highlight evergreen pieces on your content calendar (in green, maybe?). Noting evergreen content helps when you need to adjust the calendar to accommodate timely topics that pop up.
- Choose goals for evergreen content performance that are appropriate to a long lifespan. For example, you may expect evergreen pieces to do well over six months or a year rather than within a single month or quarter.
And with that, your evergreen content should help your brand see green from its content marketing.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute