Have you ever noticed that pine trees never lose their leaves? Come rain or shine, in any season, the leaves of a pine tree are always there. That’s because pine trees are ‘evergreen’, in that they’re always green.
I won’t bore you with the science because unlike some people, I did biology at school and never looked back (nor do I ever plan to). I also have whatever the opposite of a green thumb is.
The evergreen I'm talking about is the content marketing kind.
So what is evergreen content?
In the context of content marketing, evergreen relates to the longevity of a piece of content, which in this case is something that will stand the test of time. In pure digital marketing terms, it’s the type of content that’ll get ranked on search engines and continue to generate traffic, so long as there’s an interest in the topic at hand.
In fact, this post you’re reading right now is a perfect example of evergreen content, as it’ll still be relevant in a year's time. (See what I did there?)
To illustrate, I wrote an article about the difference between topical and evergreen content back in November 2018, and thanks to a little SEO magic and occasional tweaks, traffic to the post has grown more or less constantly since then.
Topical content, on the other hand, focuses on current or recent events (e.g. news items). Any topical content you create will no longer be relevant in a few weeks or months unless you manage to it added as a reference on Wikipedia!
So, it’s all very well knowing what evergreen content is, but how can you actually create it yourself? What does an evergreen post even look like?
The different types of evergreen content
There’s a variety of evergreen content that you can create, including:
I can almost guarantee that you’ve seen these on social media at least once in your internet-browsing lifetime.
They were pioneered by clickbait publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy in the mid-2010s, and have slowly made their way onto independent blogs and company news sections. If you haven’t, have you been living under a rock?
Here are some examples of evergreen content listicles that you’ll see on the likes of Buzzfeed:
- 10 Things Australia Has Stolen From New Zealand And Claimed As Their Own (Buzzfeed)
- 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity (Buzzfeed)
- 7 of the worst listicle headlines of all time (Daily Edge)
However, if you want to be taken seriously as a content writer, you should focus on more value-driven content, such as:
- The 4 Best Practices of Healthcare Social Media Marketing for 2020 (Convince and Convert)
- These 7 Impactful Business Books Will Change Your Business This Year (Jeff Bullas)
- 5 Reasons Why Your Website Isn’t Ranking on Google (Social Media Explorer)
‘Definitive’, ‘Ultimate’, or ‘deep dive’ guides
These guides are usually a big piece of content that goes into every little detail about a particular topic. You can expect to rack up anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words on these behemoths, with no stone left unturned.
For example, I recently published a guide to LinkedIn Premium, which will still be relevant in a few years, assuming Premium is still around.
Here are some pieces that I’d recommend checking out:
- The Ultimate Guide to Landing Pages (Hubspot)
- The complete guide to online social listening (Sprout Social)
- 404 Errors: What Happens When Your Web Page Is Broken [Infographic] (Marketing Profs)
Creating a how-to article is a similar undertaking to the definitive/ultimate/deep-dive guides I covered earlier. Thee pieces of content marketing are generally written as a way to solve a problem that’s common amongst your target audience.
The following are examples of evergreen how-to content:
- How to Get Genuine and Totally Real Followers on Pinterest (Hubspot)
- A No-Nonsense Guide to Getting a Job in Social Media: Part 1 (Tristan Bacon)
- How Executives Can Build a Side Career in Teaching (Harvard Business Review)
Advice on best practice
These are typically a bit more clickbait-y than other evergreen posts, and sometimes include a pain point that your audience is almost guaranteed to want to solve.
Here are some good examples of best practice articles that I’ve read recently:
- Reddit Marketing Strategies for Those Who Don’t Have Time for Reddit Marketing (Buffer)
- Social Media Etiquette: 12 Dos and Don'ts for a Successful Marketing Strategy (Social Media Today)
- Should You Use Your Industry’s Most Popular Hashtags or Get Creative? (Agorapulse)
Histories, progress reports or visions of the future
Interestingly, these aren’t so much about giving immediate, actionable advice, but are more of wide-angle lens view of certain topics and are commonly deep-dives, similar to the ones I covered earlier:
- Infographic: A Brief History of Content Marketing (Contently.com)
- A Brief History of Pulses (Pulses.org and yes, as in the vegetable)
- The future of voice search: 2020 and beyond (Econsultancy)
Now, the last example is an exception to the evergreen rule, as it may not be as relevant after 2020. However, they have more longevity than standard topical content, so those types of posts are widely regarded as being more evergreen.
How to create evergreen content yourself
Now that you know what evergreen content is, and have an idea of what it looks like in the wild, how do you start creating it yourself?
Here are some ideas on how you can research and write your own.
Use frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Do your customers and followers regularly ask the same questions? Perhaps there’s a common query that you find yourself addressing over and over again.
As an example, one of the universities I work with, Berlin School of Business & Innovation, was regularly asked by prospective students whether it was better to study economics or business. After sitting down with their academic team, the marketing team wrote a post that answered that question to the letter: Is it better to study business or economics?
In the post’s conclusion, they provided a link to the course page for their Bachelor's in Economics and Business Administration - it turns out it’s better to study both at the same time! This is a great example of linking content marketing activities directly to revenue.
Create a round-up post
After reading this, you may have realised that you’ve already published some evergreen content and just didn’t know it! If that’s the case, see if you can find 2-3 that are closely related (e.g. they’re all about salmon fishing), and write a new post that includes a round-up of those articles.
If you don’t have any content that you can use in a round-up, look at other blogs and pick interesting content from theirs. Your readers will appreciate the variety of content, and the authors may even appreciate the back-link as well!
Round-up posts are a good example of something called cornerstone content. It’s a valuable way to boost your SEO ranking, with the added bonus of providing your readers with a ‘hub post’ for particular topics.
Look for inspiration elsewhere
Whilst you’re looking for round-up content as I suggested above, have a poke around on their blogs and your competitors' blog to get inspiration for your own.
See what others in your space are writing about, and see if there’s an area that hasn’t been covered in as much detail as you think it should’ve been.
While you’re there, I’d recommend reposting some of their content on your social media, to add variety to your social media content calendar. Read my article on content curation if you’d like to find out more about that.
Find recurring trends/niches
There are plenty of events that happen every year that you cover, like Valentine’s Day (14th February), International Women’s Day (8th March), Social Media Day (30th June) and World Tourism Day (27th September).
Most digital marketing publications release a holiday calendar each year as a downloadable resource. Here’s an excerpt from Hubspot’s 2019 holiday calendar, which helpfully includes the main hashtag:
There’s even an International Bacon Day on 31st August, which makes me incredibly happy. I made a “Bacon Is My Spirit Animal” t-shirt to commemorate!
Plus, every industry will have a variety of annual conferences that you can talk about. If you’re in a especially small or new niche, you could create a list of recommended conferences. In a similar vein, you could compile a list of niche-specific Facebook Groups that you find useful.
Over to you
So there you have it, a big list of ideas and tips on how to get started with content marketing yourself.