Smart business owners understand the value of great content. Not only does it serve as a way to attract new leads to your website, it also serves as a way to engage current customers, increase customer retention, grow an audience, and increase revenues.
But trying to churn out hundreds of pieces of content can be dangerous. Not only do you have to worry about scope creep, you also have to make sure that the content you're creating is actually valued by your audience.
And it can be a nightmare trying to rank for organic keywords with topics that are only relevant for a month or a single season.
The good news is that there's a useful strategy to augment short-lived topical content strategies: evergreen content.
As the name implies, evergreen content is content that's “green” year round (like evergreen fir trees) and will be relevant for years to come.
To help you identify content that will remain pertinent and useful over time, let's first start by identifying content types with the shortest life cycles.
Types of Short-Lived Content
Before we delve into some of my favorite types of evergreen content, I first wanted to take a moment to discuss content that almost always has a short life cycle. I'm sure you could think of exceptions to some of these examples if you really tried. But by and large, most of the following types of content are known to have short lifespans:
- News articles
- Current events
- Content related to viral videos
- Seasonal fads
- Content based on rapidly changing technology
- Content related to entertainment media (television programs, movies, music, etc.)
There are also some types of content that lie somewhere between ephemeral content and evergreen content. These types of articles will last for a long time (more than a year or two), but will likely require some form of maintenance to keep them updated and relevant. For instance, if I had a software review website, guides on how to use Microsoft Word won't really change too much.
But when the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Office is updated, I may need to update a guide or risk having out of date information.
At any rate, let's take a look at some content formats that lend themselves well to evergreen content.
How-To Types Posts
How-to types posts are a great source of evergreen content, and one of my favorite types of content since they stand better chances of capturing a featured snippet. These types of posts are great because you can provide your audience with simple, logically progressing, and actionable steps. The goal is to focus the post on something people in your industry will need to know for a very long time.
For example, in our Red Canoe Elite membership area, we have videos on how to add the Google Analytics code to your website. Since the code never (or rarely) changes, these videos will be valid for years to come, and we only had to make it once.
Remember that how-to posts can be further divided into those that target beginners, intermediary, and advanced users in any industry.
I would also lump checklists under this category, too.
Life-Hacks and Product Tips
Life-Hacks always get a great response from an audience as long as two things are true: the audience didn't know the hack already and it is easy to accomplish. I'll also lump product usage tips under this category, too, which show users how to take advantage of features of their product in unique and unexpected ways.
Basically, you're trying to help your audience get the most out of their products. Perhaps you know a convenient way to clean frustrating kitchen utensils, or perhaps you know a way to repurpose a product that your audience was going to throw away. Or maybe you know a better technique to use the product to maximize its impact, efficacy, usefulness, or simply a way to use the product that will save your audience time.
These types of posts aren't typically short-lived, and can last as long as the products you're using last.
For example, I've seen loads of life-hacks that were targeted at outdoors and camping audience that showed them safer ways to use knives, stow matches without getting them wet, and create compasses from scratch. These posts are certainly evergreen, because for the incredibly long term, it's highly unlikely that knives, matches, and compasses are going to undergo any amazing revolutions.
Industry Related Statistics, Data, Dictionaries, Explanations, and Charts
Each industry or school of thought seems to have its own jargon, terms, mathematics, and unique collections of data and ideas. If you can create content that demystifies cryptic terminology or provides useful information, you can create content that not only lasts for a long time, but generates organic back-links as well.
For example, the IT field is littered with terms that the average user doesn't understand. If I administered a technology or hardware/software review website, I could create content that explains terms like Ethernet, TCP/IP, IP address, URL, Domain Name, and tons of other terms that average users often come in contact with but have no idea what they actually mean.
Furthermore, I could create a reference table detailing the speeds of various interfaces, including fiber, WiFi, and Ethernet standards. Such a reference could serve as a buying guide for users looking to buy a new laptop.
In fact, I built a digital marketing glossary a good ten years ago, and without any updates it's still relevant. (Yeah, I probably need to update it, but that's just the point. Ten years and I probably should now go update it!)
Every industry has its own jargon, slang, and unique collections of knowledge. Try to find one that fits your industry and structure an evergreen post around it.
Even though it's still a good idea to inform your audience of the latest news and developments in your industry, it's also necessary to target evergreen content as part of a long term strategy. Evergreen topics provide an opportunity to capture more organic traffic in the long run that ephemeral posts do, and lend themselves well to higher rankings in the SERPs. Though everyone likes viral content, evergreen content is a much more sensible investment of time and resources. Try to identify topics your audience sees value in that will last longer than a year.