Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
How To Make Every Single Page On Your Website Evergreen
How can you create content that garners traffic year after year? Contributor Neil Patel has some tips!
Web pages may not be meant to last forever, but I think that most web pages can do a lot better.
Many pages and articles published today lack evergreen qualities, which means that in a few months or years, they will be old and useless. They will join the billions of other pages littering the Internet with uselessness — unread, unindexed, and forgotten.
Sounds kinda sad. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. In this article, I want to show you how you make every single page on your website evergreen.
What Do I Mean By “Evergreen”?
Evergreen content is content that continues to gain search traffic and readers long after it has been published.
I want to point out a few features of evergreen content that are often overlooked, but still necessary to a successful content marketing strategy.
1. It’s About Search Traffic As Much As It Is Readers
The biggest misconception regarding evergreen content is that it’s all about readers as opposed to the search engines. Typically, when I preach about SEO, I’m telling people to create content for users, not search engines.
With evergreen content, I need to reverse this to make a single point. Evergreen content can’t be evergreen unless the search engines are indexing it and returning it in search results. What good is an “evergreen” article that’s not being returned in search results?
Unless the article is evergreen to the search engines, it’s not going to be evergreen for anyone else.
2. Evergreen Content Is Basically Relevant Content That means Different Things For Different People
The whole idea behind evergreen content is relevance. Relevancy is a slippery thing, because an old article might be relevant to a history-seeker, but irrelevant to someone looking for up-to-date information. Can you make pages relevant to both types of searchers?
Yes, you can; and I will explain how in the content below.
3. Some Types Of Content Just Can’t Be Evergreen & That’s Okay
The nature of some articles and topics refuses to be evergreened. Is that okay? Sure. Why? Because often, the upswell in search volume for these topics is worth the extra traffic it brings your way. It might not last long, but it’s good while it does last.
Articles of this nature might be something like “2014 Best Practices for Title Tags.” By 2015, this article will be viewed as obsolete.
4. It’s Not Just Articles
Don’t give in to the idea that “evergreen” applies only to articles. Actually, some of the most relevant kinds of content are videos and infographics. I encourage you to experiment with all kinds of content, not just articles.
What Kind Of Content Works Best For Evergreen?
Remember again that evergreen isn’t just for readers — it’s for search engines, too. There are specific types of content that are particularly capable of pulling in search traffic year after year. At the same time, this is the very type of content that readers will willingly devour.
Case Studies. Case studies seem pretty un-evergreen, but they’re actually awesome.
The term “case study” is an excellent search modifier for long-tail queries that get tons of traffic. Many of the best content producers in the business are publishing “case studies.” The content in these studies is often offered in PDF or report-style form.
Other researchers cite these studies and link to them, making them a powerful conduit for traffic and link building.
Definitions & Explanations. These are some of the most valuable sources of evergreen content for both readers and search engines. Have you noticed how Google pulls the most relevant answers for Knowledge Graph results on queries like this?
Definitions never go out of style. If you create helpful definitions of niche-specific long-tail terms, you will score major traffic almost forever.
A “definition” page doesn’t need to be short. The content should lead off with a succinct definition, like Google prefers. But you should back this up with plenty of additional content.
How-To Articles. The Internet has more how-to articles than anyone can count. That’s okay because Google still loves them and so do readers.
How-to articles are great because of their strong dwell times and practical benefit for readers. The more (and more relevant) how-to articles you can create, the better.
Reports. Like a case study, a report is a form of content that lives on long after its original publishing date. Many times, reports deal with a single year or timeframe.
In spite of this time-bound subject matter, reports are a gold mine for research. Again, this means that your reports will be a great source for garnering links and citations around the web.
Tips. Who doesn’t love tips? Give the tip article a try, and you’ll see traffic from it last a long time.
Non-Tech Articles Dealing With Behavior, Attitudes Or Other Personal Characteristics. If you’re in a techy niche (like I am), it can seem hard to create evergreen content.
In subjects like gardening, things can stay evergreen for a long time. (See what I did there?) The same is true for cooking, cleaning, child care, relationships, woodworking, and many other areas.
Tech is one area in which things are always changing, especially in the arena of digital marketing.
You can still create evergreen content that builds on the topic broadly, but retains evergreen status. For example, I wrote an article titled, “How to Be a Workaholic And Not Get Burned Out.” Broadly, it deals with my niche, but it will always have appeal. Even though my articles on Google Authorship may be dated, my workaholic article will never be.
Lists. Always popular, the list article is a great way to win evergreen style. We gravitate to lists, love reading them, and give them close attention.
How Do You Make Content Evergreen?
The most important components of creating evergreen content are, of course, relevance and quality. What is its subject matter, and how is it written? However, there are techniques that you can use that will make any page more evergreen.
Display The Date. First, show the date. There’s no good reason to hide the publish date of an article. When you hide the date, you are raising questions in the user’s mind as to the evergreen nature of your content. The user wants to know, Is this relevant to my interests right now?
Without a date, they may be left wondering — and simply leave rather than risk getting misled by outdated information.
When you display the publish date of article, you are creating an open admission of when the article was published and letting the user make a choice to stay or leave that page.
Update Your Content On A Routine Basis. Having an evergreen piece of content doesn’t mean that you never touch it again. Even evergreen pieces need an occasional spritz to keep them fresh.
Google’s “freshness factor” prefers pages that are updated frequently. To keep your content active in the index and the SERPs, touch it up now and then. The more content you change or move, the greater the freshness of the article in the search engines.
Explain That The Page Has Been Updated. Some content deals with subjects that are constantly changing. In this case, you can change your content, too. Simply adjust the content according to the changed subject, and place a note at the top of the article.
Here’s what you can write:
Note: This article has been changed to reflect the new publication that was released in November 2014.
State That The Page Deals With An Old Topic, then provide a link to a new article. If your content is truly outdated and can’t simply be spruced up, then you should add a section at the top that explains this.
At the top of the page, add a section stating that the information below has changed, then provide a link to a new page. Like this:
Note: The information below was relevant as of July, 2014. To find out about the latest changes, check out our infographic on “Data-Backed Tips to Improve Your Brand.”
If Google is still favoring an old article in the SERPs, this is essential. When a user clicks on that result, an old piece of content, you don’t want him or her to bounce. Instead, you can drive engagement and further dwell time with an open admission of the dated content, with a link to updated information.
Creating evergreen content is a mindset that can completely change the way you do digital marketing. By creating with evergreen in mind, you’ll position your content marketing efforts in such a way that they endure.
Keep in mind, of course, that evergreen content takes ongoing work. Like I mentioned, you can’t simply leave it and expect to always have first rank, 100% CTRs, and eternal dwell times. Evergreen is about freshening as much as it is about style, substance, and approach.
What do you do to keep your content evergreen?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.