As a consumer (or a prospect), I don’t respond to sales calls well.
Intrusive advertisement is a lot less effective than educational content, answering questions to problems I’m realistically struggling with, and leading me through a journey I find easier to pass through than doing all of the due diligence myself.
This is why I’d rather educate and inform and let customers make their own minds.
As a result, our sales pipeline has been entirely inbound-farmed for over 5 years now. This includes business for my core company, my consulting business, and two other ventures I’ve been working on.
Content marketing takes a while to pick up. But it’s a pretty solid long-term investment for three reasons:
- Once published, your content is yours and stays online (unlike temporary ads or sales calls you need to keep making).
- It supports your brand building across multiple ventures at the same time. You can’t sell Coca Cola over the phone and expect your food delivery business to inherit this brand awareness otherwise.
- New content grows stronger with time. The longer you keep posting, the more backlinks you collect, a higher domain authority, and a better chance to rank new content soon. This automatically opens opportunities for new business verticals or micro-startups that you can monetize separately.
But over the years, you can optimize your content marketing process by aiming for evergreen content.
What Is Evergreen Content?
In a survey of publisher executives last February 2019, Digiday found out that almost 7 out of 10 news publishers plan to produce more evergreen content.
If you have been around for some time now, you already know about evergreen content and how you can leverage this type of content to your advantage. Nevertheless, let’s have a quick review about what evergreen content means.
Evergreen Content: Definition
According to the Digital Marketing Institute:
“Evergreen content is search-optimized content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers over a long period of time – as the name implies. You may think that all online content is sustainable; after all, a blog post doesn’t just disappear after you publish it. But evergreen content is different. It continues to be relevant long past its publication date, with search traffic growing over time.”
I’ve started my first blog back in 2006. While most of my old content is truly outdated, I still have hundreds of valuable articles that are evergreen (or require little effort to update).
And I’ve got a list of articles I share frequently with my staff, leads, partners of mine.
Evergreen content is designed to last for years.
Though even the most traditional topics evolve with time (albeit slowly).
This is one of the leading reasons why professional marketers invest in updating evergreen content. There’s always a new strategy, an interesting technique, a new tool that gets the job done better, faster, cheaper.
Of course, Google loves a copy that’s up to date. Consider two blog posts with relatively similar lengths and key headlines listed in the content body. One updated last month and the other published 2 years ago.
Which one would you expect Google to push higher in the SERP?
By conducting a content review and analyzing reader habits, Ebner, a German publishing powerhouse that has about 80 magazines and several websites, found out that 85% of their web traffic was only due to a tiny portion of their content. They plan to repurpose news into evergreen content and a huge part of their content writing process involves updating their evergreen content with new developments.
Updated content tends to answer additional questions in a better manner, increasing time on site and decreasing bounce rate. These signals are also recognized by Google’s algorithm when prioritizing ranking order AND additional long-tail keywords around the main title.
And, since you’re updating your posts on a regular basis, you can inject the corresponding long-tails on purpose, hinting Google that your content is applicable for other tangible topics as well.
That’s why upgrading to evergreen content works so well.
Evergreen Content Writing Ideas
Content production revolves around solving problems for the corresponding target audience. As a result, your best bet is analyzing your buyer persona as much as possible and identifying common problems you can help with (that happen to frequently come up over time).
There are common pain points you can start with across most audiences: generating revenue (or finding new business), identifying new business opportunities, time management, recruitment.
Freelancers always look for new ways to generate recurring revenue or high-profile customers.
Larger organizations always try to scale recruitment, increase retention, and build a better culture.
Small businesses always try to compete for talent with large corporations paying big bucks and offering top tier perks on the job.
The further you dive into the core problems of a business, the easier it is to generate evergreen ideas. Once you’ve pinpointed the core pillars, break them down into smaller chunks and get on writing.
Evergreen Content Formats
Wordstream lists down some of the most popular evergreen content formats. Here it is:
- Top Tips
- Instructional “How To” Tutorials (Guides)
- Encyclopedia-esque Entries
- Product Reviews
I love working with videos first. It’s easier to split into smaller chunks, use audio for a podcast, generate transcription for post chunks and even social.
Let me give you some examples of each of these evergreen content format.
- 5 Key Components to Tick Off Your Checklist When Starting A Business
- 16 Reasons Why I Don’t Pick Up My Phone
Instructional “How To” Tutorials (Guides)
- How to Build a Marketing Team In a Startup?
- How to Conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis For Career Advancements?
- WT:Social And The New Age Of Social Networks
- Top Challenges When Using Slack For Managing Projects And Clients
Organizing Content Under Content Pillars
What would also lead to a better result is quality content organized under content pillars. Topic clusters that wrap several topics under a header one, indicating that your blog pays special attention to specific subjects.
Assuming you’re already producing long-form content (over 1,800 words), following this approach would result in loads of content around several main chapters, each leading to a pillar post that ranks really well.
It resembles the process of creating mini-courses on your site, each around a niche topic, with a proper landing page answering the most pressing questions (and pointing to each chapter separately).
Let me share with you how I was able to create a pretty comprehensive business guide in only a few weeks last year.
It’s a massive project and I intended for it to become one of the largest digital guides for business and management advice out there.
Since this is a key pillar of my inbound marketing strategy, here’s how I structured it. Feel free to apply in your own content and business strategy efforts.
1. Pain point discovery — putting up a guide with 31 common challenges in our field.
2. Categorization — breaking this down into key categories (in my case, strategy, recruitment, management, marketing, sales, tech, finances).
3. Mapping — adapting and connecting existing content to the guide for relevancy.
4. Repurposing — gathering interview quotes, guest posts, Quora answers, LinkedIn posts into long-form content, relevant to the guide.
5. Ongoing production — building and combining new content complementing the guide.
It took 4 weeks to rank several long-tail keywords. Over the next 6 months, I expected at least 20 long-tail keywords making it to SERP top 20, and 2-4 strategic ones into the first 5-7 results in Google.
SEO is all about content quality and how Google users perceive that. Click-through rates in SERP results, bounce rate, time spent on site — clear indications showing that readers determine what ranks well and what doesn’t.
I love BuzzSumo – it’s one of the top 3 tools I use for content and search engine marketing on a weekly basis.
It helps me understand the readers’ behavior. Audiences behave differently – some are attracted by catchy and viral headlines, enterprises look for hot keywords and corporate brands. Finding strategic topics to cover (or expand on through long-tail keywords) is often a good excuse to pick BuzzSumo and take it from there.
Here’s a content marketing guide put together by DevriX, which you can take a look into to find techniques on using BuzzSumo.
Tips on Updating Evergreen Content
Websites that update their existing content regularly see a positive impact on their ranking results.
There are billions of outdated blog posts online. If you’ve been blogging for years, chances are, there are loads of articles authored in 2015 that haven’t been up to date for years.
Even a 2019 piece may be outdated now (unless you’re producing evergreen content for a stalled industry).
Updating existing content solves two important problems for SEO: authority (age) and relevancy (up to date).
New content pieces don’t automatically rank on top of competitive keywords (even for high domain authority websites). It takes a while to pick up, connect the pieces between a new story and other posts in the same category, measure user engagement on search results, etc.
Older content stories have already ranked somewhere which gives them a head start.
Then again, relevancy matters.
And if we compare three posts published in three different sites with relatively similar domain authority (all things equal), one new, one old, and one posted a while back but updated recently, the last one can rank pretty well.
Slightly updating a word or two won’t be highly impactful, but adding a couple of paragraphs plus some cleanup every time would suffice. While you’re editing, you can also revise and update:
- Existing statistics that may have changed since last time
- Dates (references to previous years if they are applicable now)
- Broken links
- Adding an explainer video or a chart somewhere
- Complementing existing paragraphs with stats or interview quotes
There is no clear formula about the recommended update cycle you should follow. Going through different post batches every couple of weeks is a common exercise larger magazines utilize for SEO purposes.
Key Points to Focus on When Updating Evergreen Content
In order to establish a reliable process when it comes to upgrading evergreen content, focus on the following key points:
- Create a plan for recurring content updates. 20 to 30 pieces a month could be a realistic goal if you manage to design a solid process. Smaller blogs can make use of 5-10 updates a month, though if you have over a thousand articles live, you probably have the resources to maintain close to a hundred monthly updates.
- Research for emerging (and related) keywords you can rank for. This would enable you to reword different chunks and include sections that cover the specific business problem.
- Include new data and information which was not included at first. Looking up Google Search Console or SEMrush can help you identify potential long-tail keywords that you can rank for higher.
- Keep monitoring reader engagement.
- Delete outdated content sections. Evergreen content is designed to last, but this doesn’t mean that all of your content can be relevant forever.
Ideas for Promoting Old Evergreen Content
Evergreen content can follow all best practices of distribution that you would otherwise utilize for new content, for example:
- Social media shares across every network
- Email blasts for new content
- Possible webinars or live streaming
- Repurposing content into different formats (like audio or presentations)
- Paid ads
Certain channels make it easier to keep pushing old content repetitively.
We use RecurPost to republish evergreen content and interviews/podcasts I participated in. The lifespan of a story on social is short, and sharing multiple times can reach a broader audience without hitting the same people far too often.
Plus, evergreen content can serve as a good reminder over time.
Upgrading evergreen content regularly may yield new opportunities for promotion.
If you quote news, statistics, or other influencers for whatever reason, you can email them and let them know how useful their advice is. This occasionally results in different forms of reciprocity (such as social shares).
Also, if you haven’t republished content across Medium, LinkedIn, or other content networks before, consider doing this after upgrading your evergreen content.
Now, if you upgrade evergreen content in a “skyscraper” way, i.e. building an extensive list, you can redo all forms of repurposing once again as your content is more valuable than ever. For instance, if your former guide discussed the “top 10 tools for…” and you upgraded it to “top 20 tools for…”, this can be turned into a series of 5 tools across 4 videos or a long-form video (or even a short email course listing 3 tools at a time).
Figure out which channels matter to your audience and aim for maximizing them the best way possible.
Final Notes on Evergreen Copy
In content writing, there are a couple of popular approaches you can use so you know how your content performs – evergreen or not.
The first one is preparing a checklist, a blueprint or anything else that is super helpful for anyone reading your content. Referencing this in a prominent manner with a link to another page you can track will give you some insights regarding the percentage of readers jumping to this resource while reading.
The second one is using a tool like HotJar or CrazyEgg for heatmaps or recording screencasts of your audience.
Both will indicate how readers engage with your content, how far they go in the journey, and where do most of them bounce.
Some valuable data is available in Google Analytics but not as granular (time on page and bounce rate).
If you want more content marketing tips and insights, check out the following articles next:
Website Optimization: Ranking Higher On Google With Less Content
Content Marketing And The Future Of Audio/Video (2020 Predictions)