7 Strategies for Developing Evergreen Content

St. Patrick's Day Parade

Here’s the question: In the dizzying, ever changing world of content creation and marketing is it still possible to create evergreen content that is relevant, engaging and stands the test of time?

Here’s my answer: Yes!

There are seven key types of evergreen content that every content marketer needs to know and use as part of their content marketing strategy. The first four in this list are evergreen human experiences, the last three provide an evergreen knowledge base.

  1. Origin Story. The origin story connects you to your audience in two important ways: It lets them see how you got started and it should also tell them why you got started. What drove you to creating the company, product or service you now offer? What value do you hope it brings to the market? The origin story provides a compelling glimpse behind the scenes that few readers can resist.
  2. Journey Story. The journey story highlights the ups, downs, bumps, bruises and exhilaration of the path you are took to get where you are today. It travels from where you started (the origin story) to where you are now, and even points to where you are going. It connects to the audience through the shared experience of the journey. It promotes trust, authenticity and appreciation of your brand.
  3. Biggest Mistake. This type of content also plays to the shared experience of the audience. Everyone remembers their biggest mistakes. Depending on content goals, this could be people-focused and talk about your team or be directly related to your product or brand. If that’s too close to home, choose a company or brand in your industry that made a mistake and talk about how you would do it differently.
  4. Highest Achievement. Another riff on the journey story, this shines a light on that moment when it all came together. It could be the date the product launched, achieved a specific milestone, received industry recognition or won an award. The difference between the news angle (we won the award) and the evergreen approach (the achievement moment) is the context or setting provided. Evergreen content focuses on the experience more than the event.
  5. The How to. How-to articles work best for those fields and industries that are always attracting new people. They are great for introducing rookies to industry skills, history and jargon that will increase their experience. Less used (but often more valued) is the “How-to” article aimed at the experienced reader who is not yet a true expert but is striving to get there.
  6. Top Ten List. This is a perennial favorite across all industries from technology to entertainment. Keep the lists evergreen with regular updates. Tie them to annual award shows or seasonal events for longer, better reach each time that event rolls around.
  7. Best Practices. As with the how-to, best practices articles are actively used and searched regularly. One strategy for keeping a best practices article evergreen is to highlight changes in best practices over time, say annually. Linking back to the previous year keeps the topic evergreen by extending the shelf life of both the old and new article.

Making Evergreen Content Work for You

Evergreen content on the Web requires more than just a good core topic like those above. It needs to attract both the human audience and search engines. To do that, it should be:

  1. Highly searchable. Use a key word tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Wordstream, Wordtracker or Moz to see what people are searching for over time. If you are truly trying to be evergreen, search for that term over at least two years and evaluate the trend.
  2. Of general interest. Certain topics like healthy eating, pro sports, travel and investment advice are naturally evergreen because they are of continuous interest to a wide population.
  3. Of specific interest. The opposite is also true. Very niche topics – especially how to and best practices articles – are evergreen, albeit to a smaller (yet typically more dedicated) audience.
  4. Produce consistent traffic over time. The point of most content is to drive traffic to a Website, landing page or offer. Most good content will create a traffic spike when published and then fade away. Evergreen content should continue to provide traffic over a long period of time.
  5. Universally applicable across generations, geographies and languages. Extend the evergreen quality of your general interest content by considering generational, language and location differences and similarities. Breaking down language and cultural barriers is a major advantage of evergreen content.
  6. Timeless. Where possible avoid references to specific dates and times to give your content that timeless feel. If evergreen content is a key part of your content strategy, consider leaving dates off your blog or post to avoid a time/date association.
  7. High quality. The bottom line is, and always will be, quality. Even if all the other strategies listed here are followed, if the content is not well-researched, well-written and engaging, it will not stand the test of time.

With these strategies in mind, evergreen content can become a core part of your content marketing program.