What Is Evergreen Content?
More and more, online publications look to publish evergreen content that is always applicable to reader interests and less likely to become immediately dated. The idea behind this type of content is to write compelling stories that are easily found by search engines while making sure they always fresh (i.e., forever green) without having to be updated.
How Evergreen Content Works
The word evergreen is most often used by editors to describe certain kinds of stories that are always of interest to readers. Evergreen content is content that is always relevant—much like the way evergreen trees retain their leaves all year round.
Interesting and relevant content that does not become dated is necessary in order to be found online by search engines. Evergreen content can help deliver traffic to your website and hold a valuable position in search engine rankings for months or even years from when it was first published.
Evergreen Content and Search Engine Optimization
To better understand why evergreen content is so powerful, it's important to understand how search engine optimization (SEO) works.
Search engines work in the following three stages:
- Crawling (discovery of content)
- Indexing (analysis of keywords and storage of content)
- Retrieval (where user query fetches a list of relevant pages matching indexed keywords)
Search engines constantly use spiders (software robots) to crawl hundreds of millions of existing web pages for keywords that best match a user's search query.
Part of the algorithm for indexing web pages includes data regarding dated or expired content that has not had a lot of views or traffic in recent history. For example, if it's a story about dentists' pay in a certain year, then the spiders will index that page accordingly.
But a more general query to find out the "average salary of a dentist" will not put the content from that past year at the top of search engine results.
Since evergreen content really has no expiration date and usually uses keywords that can be searched over and over again, then depending on the query, search engines are more likely to consistently pull up a particular piece of evergreen content.
Keywords and Evergreen Content
Writing evergreen content around keywords that bring value to your website will help search engines direct readers to your page. For example, if your website is about health and fitness, then writing content using the keywords such as "best leg exercises" may be considered a smart evergreen topic, since your audience is probably always searching for the best leg exercises, no matter the season.
What Evergreen Content is Not
To fully grasp how to produce perpetually relevant content, you need to understand what types of stories and pieces are not evergreen.
Articles that include numerical reports and statistics that may change or become out of date obviously have a limited window of usefulness. If you are publishing a piece of content like this, it's best to be specific, because someone may search for information from a given year for comparative purposes. But don't expect it to get a lot of steady web traffic.
Reports on current clothing styles or fashion trends become dated very quickly, as will pop culture references and fads.
Holiday or seasonal articles are not usually evergreen. However, if the content is general enough, searches for information about annual holidays like Christmas, Halloween, and Easter may find your website during those times of the year.
And by their nature, news reports aren't generally evergreen but have importance for historical context and for creating a public record.
Best Practices for Creating Evergreen Content
Below are some common tricks to stretch the lifespan of an article.
- Answering reader FAQs (frequently asked questions)
- Providing industry tips, "how-to" articles, or advice
- Explaining common concepts in your industry for your readers
- Feature testimonials and product reviews (but these can be tricky since products are often replaced with newer models).
Making the effort to create evergreen pieces for your website while keeping SEO in mind will help you provide your readers with useful content that they can refer back to for months or even years to come.