When it comes to the different types of content you can publish on a business blog, there is a world of possibilities. But among all those variations of blog content is a very important one that often gets overlooked.
That, my friend, is evergreen content, and every blog could use some. In this article, we'll dive into what evergreen content is (and isn't), why it's so important to the success of a blog, and how you can effectively leverage it for your business.
What is evergreen blog content?
Just like the name indicates, evergreen blog content 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. If you're wondering what makes blog content "evergreen," it typically encompasses the following three characteristics:
- Timeless: As mentioned, content that is evergreen stands the test of time. With the exception of sometimes needing a few tweaks here and there, evergreen content won't change much and is practically everlasting.
- Valuable and High Quality: In order to reap the true benefits of being evergreen (which we'll cover in the next section of this post), blog content must be valuable and high quality enough to get noticed. If a piece of blog content that you intended to be evergreen isn't valuable to your readers and doesn't attract substantial views when it's first published, it will never become evergreen.
- Canonical: Evergreen content is usually the canonical, or definitive, piece of content your business has on that given topic. It's in-depth, detailed, and it likely took you a lot longer to create than some of your other, non-evergreen blog content.
But we're talking about the web here, right? Where things change lightning fast? Depending on the speed at which your industry changes, it may be more or less difficult to create evergreen content. The important thing to remember is that, on the web, content that lasts even a year or two could be considered fairly evergreen for your particular industry.
Why Evergreen Content is Crucial
Okay, so now you have a better sense of what makes certain blog content 'evergreen,' but you're probably still wondering what all the fuss is about. Why is evergreen content so valuable to a business? There are three main benefits that evergreen content can provide for a blog:
- High Search Engine Rankings: Because of the quality and timelessness of evergreen blog content, it will typically rank very well in search engines over time. This makes it critical for bloggers to make sure evergreen content is well-optimized with the keywords for which they're trying to rank in search engines.
- High Traffic: Because evergreen content typically achieves high ranking positions in search engines, it gets found more, which means it contributes a steady, continuous amount of traffic into your blog and website, even long after it was initially published.
- Continues to Generate Leads: As a result of the continuous traffic it generates, evergreen content that is optimized for lead generation also has a powerful capacity to continually generate leads over time. The HubSpot Inbound Marketing blog, for example, which has published nearly 3,000 articles to date, can credit a lot of the day-to-day leads it generates to articles that were published months and even years ago.
In other words, the reason evergreen content is so valuable is because it continues to work for you long after you publish it. That's why a blog that incorporates evergreen content into its strategy is at an advantage. If you took a news-centric approach to your content creation and only published content about breaking industry news, your blog content would become outdated and irrelevant quickly, and it wouldn't generate long-lasting traffic.
Evergreen content, on the other hand, guarantees SEO, traffic, and leads over time. And in today's marketing world where regular and consistent content creation is a marketer's job, who wouldn't appreciate the timeless benefits of content that's evergreen?
Examples of Evergreen Blog Content
Still confused about what types of blog content you can consider evergreen?
Considering the three characteristics we discussed above, here are some examples of blog content with evergreen potential:
- Resource lists of curated content (e.g. 36 Awesome Social Media Blogs Everyone Should Read)
- Your business' everlasting stance on an industry issue (e.g. 6 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Blogging)
- Answers to frequently asked questions in your industry (e.g. When Lead Scoring is a Marketer's Waste of Time)
- Historical accounts (e.g. The History of Marketing: An Exhaustive Timeline [INFOGRAPHIC])
- How-to guides/tutorials on topics that don't change (e.g. How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps [With Video!])
With that in mind, here are some examples of content that wouldn't be considered evergreen:
- Date/time/situational-specific content (e.g. Brian Halligan's 2010 Marketing Wish List)
- Breaking news (e.g. BREAKING: Facebook Announces New Subscribe Button)
- Data and statistics (e.g. 25 Eye-Popping Internet Marketing Statistics for 2012)
- Speculative content/Opinions about news (e.g. How Path is Making 'Small' the New 'Big' in Social Media)
- Content about specific events (e.g. The FIFA World Cup: The Biggest Event in Social Media Yet?)
In general, topics that don't change (or change very little) over time are a good indication they'll have evergreen potential. The ultimate question to ask yourself when trying to decide: Will people still read this and think it's interesting a year from now?
4 Steps for Evergreen Content Maintenance
While content that is truly evergreen won't need very much maintenance over time, it's a good call to audit your evergreen content every once in a while (say, every 6 months) to look for opportunities for improvement. Because your evergreen content will continue to generate traffic and leads, you'll want it to stay as fresh as possible.
1. Identify your evergreen content.
The first thing to do is identify your existing evergreen content. For this, you'll need to consult your blog analytics . First, sort your articles by top views. This will help to eliminate the content that isn't evergreen. To narrow your list down even further, eliminate articles in that top views category whose topics aren't evergreen (e.g. news, event-specific, etc.).
Now, take a look at which of your remaining posts are still generating leads for your business. You can also look at your keyword metrics to determine if any of these top posts rank highly for specific keywords you're trying to rank for. From this exercise, you should be able to come up with a list of evergreen blog content that you should audit -- and add to -- over time.
2. Update your content.
Your next step should be to update the content you've identified as evergreen. Have there been any recent developments on the topic that would make a great addition to the post? Do any examples or statistics (maybe you have more compelling ones now) need updating since you last visited the post? Does anything that no longer applies need to be deleted from it? Make the appropriate adjustments.
The important thing to remember is that you want to update the existing post rather than create a completely new one. This is because you want to keep leveraging the SEO benefits the post has already built up, not start from scratch. If it's been a while since the post was originally published and you'd like to give it more attention than what it gets from search alone, consider republishing the post as new -- just use this tactic sparingly.
3. Keep your CTAs fresh.
When conducting your evergreen content audit, pay attention to each post's call-to-action (Each post does have one, right?). Is that CTA the best CTA for this particular post? If the post is already generating a lot of traffic, you want to serve people with the best possible CTA. Select your high-performing offers for the CTAs of these posts to get the most bang for that post's lead generation.
If it's been months since you updated the post, it's possible you've created a new ebook, webinar, or another relevant offer that is fresher that the CTA you used originally. Or perhaps you've just updated your CTA design since then, and you need to replace the stale one with your new design. For HubSpot customers, the CTA Module makes it very easy to update CTAs, allowing you to automatically replace an old CTA design with the new one for every blog post for which it was used.
4. Make sure your posts are search engine optimized.
If you're a regular and consistent content creator, chances are you probably aren't nitpicking every single blog post you publish for the best possible SEO. Search engine optimization takes time and careful consideration, so it's understandable that you might get lazy here. But when it comes to evergreen content, making these posts search engine optimized as best as possible is very valuable.
If a post is already generating a high level of traffic, you'll benefit from spending the time to help it rank for some other keywords that you also want to rank for. Read through your post and identify opportunities to include these keywords and link that anchor text to the pages you want to rank for that particular keyword.
5. Create new evergreen content.
Always look for new opportunities to create evergreen content. Is there a niche topic in your industry that has been written about very little which offers an opportunity for you to create a canonical, evergreen piece of blog content? Jump on it! Evergreen content is a powerful asset for your business, and being able to create more will only add to the everlasting benefits of your blog.
How to Leverage Evergreen Blog Content
Okay, so you've identified your existing evergreen content and you know how to start creating even more if it. But there are still a couple of other things you can do to maximize the benefits of your evergreen content.
- Link to Evergreen Blog Content in Other Content: Because your evergreen content is virtually timeless and also likely some of your best content, it behooves you to link to it in the other content you create (e.g. other blog posts, ebooks, web pages, etc.). This will drive even more traffic to it and help you leverage the power of internal linking , which is an overlooked yet important part of search engine optimization.
- Promote Evergreen Blog Content in Social Media: Evergreen content can be a great pool of content to fuel your social media promotion. It's some of your best content, and while search will naturally generate a lot of traffic for your evergreen content, social media can also help drive traffic. When HubSpot first started incorporating evergreen content into its social media strategy, our initial experiment more than doubled the amount of social media traffic we were sending to the blog. Today, the promotion of evergreen content is a regular part of HubSpot's social media strategy, and since we conducted our first evergreen promo experiment, we've seen even more tremendous growth in social media referral traffic to the blog.
Of course not all blog content you publish has to be evergreen. There are definitely benefits to having a healthy mix of both evergreen and newsworthy or timely content. Are you mixing evergreen content into your blogging strategy?
Image Credit: jonkriz