Blogging is hard work. It takes time to think through topics that will resonate with your readers, write articles that will not only get read but also shared, and optimize each post with links, images, tags and titles that will maximize search engine rankings. …and you’re supposed to do this several times each week.
If you’re creating content with a short shelf life, a lot of this time and energy could go to waste. Posts that lose their relevance in just a few days or weeks have an extremely low ROI. Evergreen content, in contrast, can generate returns for many months – even years – after your initial investment.
First things first. What does it mean to be evergreen? As HubSpot defines Evergreen content, it “stays useful season to season, year to year with little or no need for upkeep. It can be referenced long after it was originally published, and even then, it’s still valuable to the reader”. In contrast to posts related to events, new product announcements or technology reviews that will expire, evergreen content retains its value over time.
The Neverending Value of Evergreen Content and Your Indianapolis Digital Marketing Strategy
Lead Generation: First and foremost, when done well, evergreen content included in your Indianapolis digital marketing strategy can continue to generate leads for months and years after it’s posted. Just how many leads could your evergreen content generate for you? HubSpot’s “Historical Optimization” project set out to answer that very question. It found that 76% of its monthly blog views came from posts that were at least one month old. Additionally, 92% of the leads generated through HubSpot’s blog each month also came from these “old” posts. In other words, HubSpot’s “old posts” were generating the vast majority of the traffic and leads generated by the blog.
Just think of what this could do for you. If you have already been producing content for a while, there’s a chance that your business is already experiencing this phenomenon – and you may not even realize it. It might be worth taking a few minutes to run an analysis in HubSpot or Google Analytics to find out, eh?
Improved SEO: High-quality evergreen content that is optimized for maximum search engine rankings can perform really well, particularly as more time goes by. Why? Because great content that strategically applies SEO best practices will appear in more and more searches over time. As it does, it will continue to be found and linked to by other sites and posts. These two factors will continue to compound as time to goes by, leading to improved SEO and higher search engine rankings for your content.
It’s So Easy Being Evergreen
Creating evergreen content isn’t any harder than creating any other form of content. You just have to focus on topics that are going to provide value to readers over long periods of time.
It may also be helpful to be clear about what content is NOT evergreen:
- Reports about research or data that will change over time
- Articles about a specific event, season or news announcement
- Posts or reviews about new or updated products
As you approach evergreen content creation, aim to create pieces that will be valuable to your readers for many months – even years – to come. Here are some tips to help you do it:
Shoot for Sustainability: Deliver information that will retain its relevance without a lot (or any) updates on your part. The goal is to publish a piece of content that will drive value for readers for a long period of time. This means you’ve got to focus on topics that won’t change with a product update or a new industry trend. Create content that provides information your readers can use in relation to a timeless tactic, challenge, need or process.
For example, while a post entitled “The Top 5 Facebook Tools Every Marketer Should Use” will eventually expire as Facebook cycles through new features and products, a post entitled “Why Focusing On Your Consumers is Always Good for Business” is likely to have a very long shelf life.
Focus on Your Foundation: The purpose of evergreen content is to provide value to your readers and generate leads for your business for a long period of time. For this reason, be sure that the evergreen content you create focuses on topics that you want your business to be known for. Stick to your foundational subject matter expertise.
Using myself as an example, a strong area of focus for me is content marketing. So while I may dabble in other areas of marketing, such as SEO or Google Analytics, it probably wouldn’t be in my best interest to invest a lot of my time creating evergreen content about these things. I want prospective clients to find my content and then ultimately reach out to me for more information or a potential partnership. And if they find content that doesn’t closely align with what I do, we’re both going to end up disappointed.
Write To Your Target Audience: As marketers, we all know that one of the foundational principles of marketing, and actually business in general, is knowing your audience. After all, the greatest way to serve your customers is to know what they want. So as you create any content at all, but particularly evergreen content, it’s important to write directly to your target audience.
Use a style and tone that will appeal to them. Approach the piece from a perspective and thought level they will understand and relate to. Answer their frequently asked questions and help them overcome the challenges they face time and time again.
Why is this particularly important for evergreen content? Because as it continues to generate traffic for your site and leads for your business over time, you want it to be the right traffic and the right leads. …right?
Use Your Words: The most successful pieces of evergreen content tend to be rather long; typically 1500 to 2500 words. Why? Well, for one, they perform better as far as SEO is concerned. Much better. According to a study by serpIQ, the domains that rank on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) all have a minimum of at least 2,000 words of content.
Why does this matter? Because Google’s web crawler looks at every piece of content on a page and, frankly, the more you have, the more likely it is that you’re going to use more relevant keywords and, therefore, provide more value to Google’s search engine users. And that, my friends, means you’ll rank higher than the competition.
Evergreen Roots Run Deep: So we know that longer posts perform better with search engines, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should stretch a 750-word post into a 2000-word post with a lot of fluff. Instead, strive to create content that dives deep into the topic you’re covering. Get as in-depth as possible.
Seem easier said than done? Here’s a little trick you may want to try to help take your relatively basic blog post and drive it deeper with rich content.
First, write your blog post; get your story in writing from beginning to end. If this means you end up with just 500 words, no problem. Just be sure you have all the basics covered.
Next, read through your post – slowly. As you do, take notes of any and all questions your readers might ask as they read it. Jot down these questions, along with additional ideas, tips, insights, examples, statistics, and anything else that could be good additions to the piece.
Now, go in and answer those questions. Provide the examples and statistics that would support your position. Deliver extra ideas and insights. As you fill in the gaps with rich bits of content here and there, you’ll see that your short, pithy blog post will quickly become a nice, long, valuable (keyword being valuable) piece of content.
Integrating Evergreen into Your Content Strategy
Once you start creating evergreen content, just how should you wrap it into your overall content marketing strategy? Great question. Here are the answers.
Don’t Forget About It
Because a lot – if not all – of the effort you put toward your evergreen content will be invested up front, it might be easy to forget about it. But don’t let that happen! Get into your web analytics tool regularly and watch what content is performing well. Once you see what content is generating traffic, even months or years after it was published, see what you can do to optimize it and make it perform even better.
In contrast, if you see that a piece of evergreen content from the past isn’t performing as well as you had hoped, dig in to see how you could generate more traffic to it or improve conversion opportunities within the post so it drives more leads.
Don’t go Exclusively Evergreen
While this article has taken a close look at the benefits of evergreen content, it’s certainly not the best or only content you should be using. Just imagine if there were no articles about how to use the latest social media platform or reviews of Apple’s latest gadget. The rapidly evolving world of technology, media and current events simply won’t allow that to happen.
It’s perfectly fine – in fact it’s highly encouraged – to create time-sensitive content. Doing so will help your business appear in searches about those new trends and announcements. So share your timely ideas. Publish great blog posts even if they have a short shelf life. Provide how-tos and step-by-step guides that will be obsolete at some point. This “deciduous” content is every bit as important as the evergreen variety.
Just be sure you have a nice blend of evergreen content mixed with content that will eventually expire – maybe shoot for a 50/50 balance. This way, you’ll have both long-term and short-term content strategies in the bag.
When you’ve got a great piece of content that continues to perform well over time, keep on promoting it. Sure, the hope is that it will be found organically through search, thanks to your strategic SEO tactics, but if you’ve got content that your audience will find valuable today, tomorrow and long into the future, the last thing you should do is stop promoting it.
Continue to link to it in your newer blog posts. Post about it on social media from time to time. Leverage new opportunities as they arise to help people find that evergreen content you worked so hard to create.
Create Content from Cuttings
In the gardening world, those blessed with a “green thumb” know that with many types of plants, it’s possible to cut off one of its branches or shoots and plant it to get an entirely separate, thriving plant. This practice is called “cutting” and it’s applicable to how you can use evergreen content in your overall content strategy.
When you’ve got a great piece of evergreen content, take a closer look at it to see what opportunities exist to cut out a piece of it and create a new piece of content. For example, perhaps you could create a shorter, more timely piece of content focusing on one of the bits of information covered in the evergreen article. Or maybe it would be possible to use the information covered in your evergreen piece to create a different type of content, such as a SlideShare, infographic, guide or video.
The idea here is that you’ve already created a great piece of content, why not invest just a little more time into using it to spin out even more great, high-performing content, too?
Evergreen content should have a place in your overall content marketing strategy. If it doesn’t, you may have just pinpointed a reason that your strategy isn’t performing as well as you think it should. Take a moment and try your hand at creating some timeless content today. Give it some time and as the leaves begin to fall on the more time-sensitive content, watch and see what happens to those evergreen pieces. I bet you’ll see that they’re worth the effort.