Everyone wants to talk about viral content. And while there’s certainly something to be said for creating a viral piece of content that ricochets around cyberspace and gets seen by millions of people, viral content isn’t sustainable.
In other words, you can’t count on something going viral. And you certainly can’t count on the virality of a post lasting for more than a few days or weeks.
If you’re building your content strategy around viral content, you’re setting yourself up for long-term failure. (You might experience a big initial boost, as well as the occasional spike, but that will eventually fizzle out.)
The key to a successful and sustainable content strategy is a healthy blend of evergreen content that continues to add value week after week, month after month, and year after year.
Evergreen content is content that doesn’t have an expiration date. In other words, it adds just as much value in a year as it does today. It’s focused on a topic that will always be relevant and enticing, regardless of trends, seasonality, or the current 24-hour news cycle.
This term comes from the world of landscaping and agriculture, where evergreen plants and trees retain their lush green leaves year-round. They don’t die off or need to be replanted. They continue to nourish and provide all year round.
Examples of non-evergreen topics:
Examples of evergreen topics:
The article you’re reading right now is another example of an evergreen topic. While some elements will change over time – such as the best places to publish content, tips for writing high-conversion copy, and different elements – the overall subject will continue to be relevant in three, five, or even 10 years. (We might have to come in and update a few things in several years, but the majority of the copy and framework will stay the same.)
Unlike newsworthy or viral content that provides a quick surge of activity followed by a steady decline, the value of evergreen content is multiple. Here are some of the top benefits:
When you multiply these benefits together, it’s clear why evergreen content is the best long-term investment for your content strategy. The key, however, is to identify the right topics and then execute in such a way that your content is compelling enough to connect with the right people in the right way.
Now that you understand what evergreen content is and why it’s important, let’s dig into the approach for finding good evergreen topics. Here are a few helpful tips:
Unless you have a massive audience that you’re super in-tune with and already know what they want, you should begin this process with in-depth keyword research.
When researching keywords, search terms that you know your audience connects with. Then look for related terms that have a high volume spread out over many months (or even years). This indicates longevity and shows you that the topic isn’t just a flash in the proverbial pan.
In addition to studying keyword search volume and competitiveness, it’s a good idea to see what type of content already exists. Comb through the first page of Google and see what other people are doing. Your goal is to write a post that’s not just equal or better, but 10X better.
You want your content to totally blow the existing content out of the water. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to usurp a search result that’s been on the first SERP for a while.
Remember that the purpose of evergreen content is to continue adding value over time. Sometimes you need to look ahead and consider whether a piece that’s evergreen now will still be evergreen in 12-36 months. It’s also possible that you’ll stumble upon a content idea that isn’t overwhelmingly popular right now, but is likely to have some evergreen value down the road.
For example, topics like cannabis, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, etc. are all hot topics right now, but haven’t previously been considered evergreen. They likely will be in the future, so now is a great time to get ahead of the curve and produce relevant resources. (These topics are just examples. You’ll have to find ones that are relevant to your content strategy and target audience.)
Finally, you’ll need to home in on a specific format that allows your evergreen content to shine. This process goes hand-in-hand with topic selection. Common examples of evergreen formats include:
There are plenty of examples of each of these types online. You’ve likely interacted with a few of them over the past couple of days. Play around with different ideas until you find one that’s a good fit.
Once you have an idea of what you’re going to write about, it’s time to create the content. This is where you roll up your sleeves and get to work.
If you’re a skilled copywriter or have a way with words, you might tackle this on your own. But if you’re short on time and/or don’t have a polished writing voice, you can always hire it out to a copywriter or content service.
With that being said, here are some tangible suggestions to help you create killer evergreen content that drives traffic, authority and – ultimately – dollars back to your business:
Headlines play an integral role in the success of your content. Far more people read your headline than will ever read your blog post, so make it good!
The best headlines are specific and evoke curiosity. The objective is to use things like real numbers and descriptive language that makes people want to click. Specificity sells – generalities tank!
Bad Headline: Types of Lawnmowers Homeowners Should Consider
Good Headline: The Ultimate Guide to Lawnmowers: 4 Models for ‘Yard of the Month’
Do you see the difference? The first headline is vague. The second one is specific and evokes emotion/curiosity. (You can win yard of the month just by purchasing a better lawnmower?!)
You should spend at least 10 minutes brainstorming headlines for every hour it takes you to write the post. So if it takes you three hours to write a piece of evergreen content, devote at least 30 minutes to headlines.
The goal of the headline is to get people to click.
The goal of the first sentence is to get people to read the second sentence.
The goal of the second sentence is to get people to read the third sentence.
You get the picture…
Make sure you’re grabbing attention right away. Don’t lead with something generic. You’re not building up momentum – lead with it! (Otherwise people will drop off before giving the rest of your content a chance.)
Quality is certainly more important than quantity, but you’ll discover that most high-performing evergreen content has some girth to it.
You’ll rarely find a valuable piece of content that’s just 500 words in length. You should aim for at least 1,000 words, and more like 2,000 to 3,000 words. Not only does this add more value to readers, but it gives you more real estate to include keywords and prove your authority on the subject matter.
Remember that the goal of evergreen is to continue adding value for years. Thus you should never tie yourself down with statements or phrases that limit the piece’s long-term efficacy.
Examples of words you should avoid:
If you are going to use specific dates, you’ll need to remember this so that you can go back and edit it every year. (But if your goal is to be totally hands-off after publishing, just avoid it in the first place.)
With long content, the risk is always that you lose a reader before they get to the end (which is presumably where the big CTA is). One way to avoid this is by mixing up your content mediums to stimulate multiple senses and create some visual variety. Examples include:
Google also pays attention to content mediums and will give you a nudge if it notices video and other formats that keep people on the page.
Always keep the focus of an evergreen content piece to just one or two CTAs. However, feel free to intersperse them throughout the piece so that people are more likely to see it as they read. Every few hundred words is a good rule of thumb.
While we encourage you to use CTAs in your evergreen content, remember that the main emphasis is on adding value to the reader – not making a sale.
CTAs should be soft and non-intimidating. For example, you might ask people to opt-in to your email list to get more quality content delivered to their inbox on a regular basis. Or you may encourage people to download a PDF report or white paper. These approaches work much better than trying to close a sale.
It can take several weeks or months for a piece of evergreen content to gain prominence in the search rankings. The key is to identify and track the right key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you can gauge how you’re doing.
Over time, you’ll be able to see which pieces of content perform best and which promotional activities move the needle.
Finally, while you really shouldn’t have to ever rewrite or replace a piece of evergreen content, there may come a time when you need to refresh a piece. This may happen every few years as big trends change and new movements occur.
We’d recommend skimming through each of your evergreen pieces every year or two to identify any areas that need to be addressed. This should only take several minutes.
Once you have an impressive piece of evergreen content sitting in your marketing vault, it’s time to maximize value through strategic promotion. And while this article is mainly focused on creating content, we’ll give you a few helpful promotional tips to get started:
You can only do so much self-promotion on your own. The real key to having your evergreen content be a successful source of exposure and lead generation is to get other people, blogs, and companies to share your content as a helpful resource. And you can set yourself up for this by making your content easy to share.
The easiest way to do this is by including social links and calls-to-action to share the post on specific platforms. Almost every blogging platform has a feature where you can include social media icons at the top or bottom of your post.
The great thing about evergreen content is that it doesn’t go out of style. So unlike a newsworthy piece of content that you have to publish right away, evergreen content can be published now and later.
You don’t want to overshare a piece of content and turn people off, but there’s something to be said for getting into a sharing cadence. With a scheduling tool like Buffer, you can set up a post to share multiple times. For example, you might set it up to where the system automatically shares each evergreen piece on a rotating six-month basis. This removes some of the heavy lifting on your part and gives you a streamlined, hands-off social media strategy.
As you know, your blog is a running feed of content. And as soon as you post a new piece of content, it pushes the next one down a notch. Eventually, your blog content gets buried, which makes it difficult for people to see it when they visit the blog.
One way to circumvent this problem is to create “feature” posts that will permanently display in the header or sidebar of your blog. You can also set it to where these posts are featured in other areas of your site – like on the homepage.
How many emails do you send on a weekly basis? For most people, the answer is somewhere in the hundreds. And if you’re actively pursuing growth in your business, many of these are outbound emails going to people outside of your organization. Why not leverage some of this valuable real estate?
One option is to include links to your two or three best evergreen content pieces in your email signature. This will help you generate some traffic and build trust with people.
While your evergreen content should have a pretty good SEO structure to it already, you can supercharge your results by driving backlinks to the page.
Link building can be time-consuming and costly, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the upfront expense. Not only will you boost your search rankings and gain exposure, but you’ll also develop some solid networking relationships along the way.
Did you know that you can re-publish a blog post on LinkedIn and Medium without getting hit with a duplicate content penalty? This is a highly-effective way to leverage the authority that these platforms have and get your content in front of more eyeballs.
While you should be able to copy and paste your post word-for-word without penalty, we’d encourage a different approach:
This strategy ensures you’re able to get people onto your site, which Google likes. (It also increases your chances of being able to collect a lead or opt-in.)
Looking to scale up your website traffic, but don’t have the internal time, expertise, or resources to invest in content at scale?
Consider SEO.co your scalable, done-for-you content solution. We make it our mission to develop the highest quality content (including white label agency partners) for our clients, with an emphasis on ethical, white hat link placement that enhances SEO and drives traffic.
To learn more about our link building or content marketing services, please get in touch with us today!