Good evergreen content is always relevant to your target market.
It might not include information that’s new or trendy, but it should provide good advice, be entertaining or solve a problem for potential readers.
Whether it’s two months or two years old, the best content drives traffic on its own through organic means or ongoing social media sharing. As an example, here’s the traffic to one of our best evergreen blog posts:
Sometimes good content doesn’t rise to the top, it’s not optimized around the right keyword, or it’s hard to discover because it’s buried in your site. Good content that doesn’t catch on may still be relevant and informative, but its traffic over time probably looks more like this:
Though there’s no surefire formula for delivering high-performing evergreen material every time, a few best practices will improve your odds. This post will explore a few things you should ask yourself to make sure content that’s worthy gets the results it should:
- Is optimized for search?
- Does it deliver value to readers?
- Is it still relevant?
- Does it have a strong point of view?
If your evergreen content isn’t getting the traction you want, make sure you’re hitting all four of those points to give it new life.
Optimize it for search
After you publish a piece of content, you blast it on social media, you put it in an email, you feature it on your blog or website, and if it’s something big, you might even do some PR around it. What happens, though, when the content scrolls to page two of your blog and people stop tweeting about it?
Well, nothing happens if it’s not optimized for search. Maybe there’s some referral traffic or maybe people find it within your site, but the content won’t have any ability to drive traffic unless you make an effort to promote it.
The good news is that optimization of existing content doesn’t take much work. To quickly get a read on how you’re doing, take these two steps:
1. Keyword research
Enter the most important words that describe the content in your piece into Google’s Keyword Planner. Using this article as an example, I put the term “evergreen content” into the keyword planner, but didn’t find many interesting variants:
- The phrase “evergreen content” gets 590 monthly queries.
- The phrase “what is evergreen content” gets 110.
There were other related terms that got fewer than 40 queries per month, but it looks like the only chance this article has for consistently driving traffic is to rank for one of those two terms.
2. Competition check
Look to see whether the content that shows up in the search results is consistent with what your article is about-and make sure the content that’s ranking isn’t vastly superior to the content you’ve got. Here’s the top of the current search results:
These look like my content marketing peers, so I’m targeting the right audience. The trouble is that there’s a lot of competition from reputable sites with good authority. Nonetheless, I’ve got an interesting take and insights that aren’t in some of those articles, so I’m on the right track.
Next, make sure you’re using those verified keywords well. This image includes the basics for optimizing around your keyword and its variants (if your keyword is “chocolate doughnuts,” that is). It also includes technical elements you should build into your site, but if you use your keyword as “chocolate doughnuts” is used here, you’re well on the way to winning the battle:
Deliver value in your evergreen content
If your content isn’t performing, you also want to look in the mirror and ask yourself whether it’s any good. Be honest with yourself. If it reads like a poor man’s Wikipedia article, it’s probably not something your audience (or Google) is likely to dig.
For example, it would have been easy for me to write this article like this:
What is evergreen content?
It’s content that’s perpetually relevant to its readers.
Why do I need evergreen content?
Because it makes you more efficient. You can create the content once and reap the benefits forever!
And so on.
That article would’ve met the requirements of the perfectly optimized page infographic above, but would it have been useful for the reader? Bottom line, content will never be successful if it doesn’t inform, entertain or help solve a problem.
When people Google something, they’re looking for an answer. Google’s goal is to give people that answer without having to click around much. Thus, your job when you create evergreen content is to deliver the best answer possible.
If you wouldn’t want to read the content you’re creating, it’s likely that nobody else will either.
“Quality content is stuff that your audience actually wants to consume and share,” Michele Linn, vice president of content at Content Marketing Institute, says in an interview with Scripted.com. “Quality content is whatever drives the business for your organization.”
Make sure your content is still relevant
Say you’ve created a blog post called “Top Social Media Sites.” You did a bunch of research, you optimized it right, and you delivered value to your reader, but then you let it sit around a few years. This is what you’d have:
A page like this is going to fall out of the rankings because it’s simply not valuable (except as a time capsule—where’s Friendster, by the way?).
Often, refreshing a post like this won’t take a lot of work and-especially with a post that has had some success and a bunch of backlinks—it can be a quick win to bring it up to date.
Develop a point of view
Finally, evergreen content tends to do better if it has a point of view. That is an extension of making sure it’s both valuable and relevant. When you include your unique perspective, you’re going to set yourself apart from people who produce similar content.
Your perspective (and the way you share it) can be the value your readers are looking for. Having a strong point of view will also get people commenting and sharing.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Visually blog.