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Creating Evergreen Content

Key Metrics:
Number of evergreen posts published per month.

Why it Matters:
Evergreen content that is optimized for search engines will drive consistent, focused traffic to your site. This allows you to generate more predictable traffic compared to spiky content.

Final Result:
Predictable, high-converting traffic to your site.

What is evergreen content?

Evergreen content is designed to rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs), thus attracting traffic from search engines over a long period of time. This content aims to be timeless, useful, search engine optimized, and regularly updated as information changes.

While spiky content (covered later in this course) helps drive a lot of awareness in a short period of time, most of this traffic is fleeting. Evergreen content doesn’t typically come out of the gate with a big bang, but traffic to each evergreen article grows over time as your site builds up domain authority and you get more backlinks.

Evergreen content will drive significantly more focused and predictable traffic for your business, so you should start investing in it early. As mentioned before, especially for evergreen content, consistency is key.

Spiky vs. evergreen content

To see the effect of spiky vs. evergreen traffic, here’s a graph showing unique users visiting a blog. We can clearly see when articles were published that created traffic spikes:

Spiky content in Google Analytics

There were a few spikes in the given time frame, but especially successful ones were created mid-January 2020 and at the end of September 2020 (with the September blog post reaping in over 9,000 unique visitors on two consecutive days). That big September spike drove over 20,000 unique visitors in less than three days, but as you can see, the traffic to this article quickly died off.

On the other hand, here’s a graph of a piece of evergreen content from the same blog that was created with SEO best practices in mind:

Evergreen content in Google Analytics

Ever since the article was published in July 2020, its organic traffic has grown, and in March 2021, it consistently brought in around 200 unique visitors per month. These visitors are very engaged with the article (as seen by the average time on page of 5 minutes and 40 seconds).

Now imagine having 20, 50, or 100 such articles, and you can see how the numbers add up. A consistent traffic source to your blog is great for driving awareness for your business, but it also provides you with a predictable top of the funnel.

If you had 20 blog posts bringing in 200 unique visitors per week, that’s 16,000 unique visitors per month! These 16,000 visitors see your calls-to-action, and a subset will convert into deeper stages of the funnel.

The beauty of evergreen content is that once these blog posts are live and consistently generating organic traffic, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or time on them.

Of course, spending time building backlinks, attracting social media traffic, and investing in other promotional tactics will help drive more traffic to your evergreen content.

Evergreen publishing frequency

The value of each piece of evergreen content compounds over time as you add more content, so you should be publishing it much more frequently than spiky content.

Early on, try to publish an evergreen article every two weeks, but increase that cadence to once per week (or more) if you can. Remember though, you need to maintain a buffer of content that’s ready to publish, have the capacity to work on more topic discovery, and have enough time to publish and promote each piece of content.

Recall the screenshot of the Trello content calendar shown earlier in this course:

Calendar view of a content calendar

In this calendar, the team is prepared to publish three to four articles per week. Don’t expect to get to that kind of output early on - it takes time to build a buffer like this - but the predictability and peace of mind it provides are well worth it.

Keeping evergreen content evergreen

Over time, even your best pieces of evergreen content will start to lose traffic. Usually, you can fix this by updating them when information becomes outdated or incorrect. Doing regular content audits of your existing content can help you identify articles that need to be updated, content interlinking opportunities available, and new gated assets that could be a good fit for a specific article.

Learn more about our process for content audits in our dedicated module on “Content Audits and Refreshes.”

Evergreen topic discovery

Creating evergreen content involves multiple stages of research: from content discovery via internal interviews to keyword audits that help you recognize topics that go well together to defining specific content clusters.

Just like with everything else we talk about in this course, content discovery is a science, not an art. To discover suitable content ideas, look at keyword volume, keyword difficulty, content that competitors or other relevant players in your space published, and more.

Content discovery is a huge topic, so we cover it in more detail in our dedicated course module about “Keyword Audits and Content Clusters.”

Creating content clusters

“Content clusters” are packages of articles that are produced in a specific way to help you achieve strong SERP (search engine results pages) placements for your most important keywords. They are composed of an “umbrella article” and multiple “sub-articles.”

Each of these evergreen articles can link to all other articles in the content cluster (the “sub-articles”), while your main piece (the “umbrella article”) will be the overview that links “down” to all other sub-articles. These, in turn, link back to the umbrella article.

Content clusters and an umbrella article

This system of intentionally interlinking articles helps readers discover more of your content and move further down the funnel. It also helps search engines understand how content on your site is related and can help improve each article’s rank on SERPs.

Production of evergreen content

Because evergreen content generally covers “awareness-type” content (which we’ll explain later in this course), it can often be outsourced to a third party. If you don’t have internal content contributors available or lack the specialized expertise to produce specific content, working with freelance writers or a content agency is a good option. Some agencies like specialize very narrowly on content for software developers, so you should be able to find similar agencies to help you cover any niche.

Your team may want to cover certain key pieces, but many businesses lean on freelance writers for the bulk of their evergreen content.

Implementing basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best-practices

While search engine optimization is another big topic, there are a few basics you should pay attention to when producing and publishing evergreen content:

  • Your post must not be too short. Very short articles (less than 500 words) are seen as “low-quality content” by Google and will typically not be ranked highly.
  • Your main headline and sub-headlines should be keyword optimized.
  • Your focus keyword should be mentioned in the first paragraph.
  • Include an image in the first third of your article (here are some places for free stock photos).
  • Use “alt” tags on images to help search engines understand them.
  • Make sure your article is readable (paragraph structure, emphasis, bold, headlines, etc.).
  • Link to helpful, external resources that are not on your domain.
  • Utilize meta-tags that can help Google’s crawler better understand what your page is about.

By regularly publishing SEO-friendly content and following the above best practices, search engines will start to see your site as a reliable source of information.

For a more detailed look at the finer points of SEO, sign up for our dedicated course module on “Preparing your Blog Content for Optimal Search Engine Performance.”

Evergreen traffic brings readers with intent

Evergreen content is targeted to specific search terms, so when a visitor finds a piece of evergreen content, they are likely proactively searching for that topic. Such visitors are, therefore, more likely to be part of your target market than visitors drawn in from spiky posts.

Take the spiky traffic example from earlier in this course. Is it possible that the business got some new customers out of the 20,000 unique visitors in less than two days? Sure, it’s possible, but they probably get much higher conversion rates from users that use search terms specific to their product or problem space.

With evergreen content, your call to action can be much more direct. You can push readers to start a free trial, schedule a sales call, or download an ebook. Because these users are actively searching for something and your article answers that query, it is much easier to connect the content to the actual product or service you are selling. We will be talking more about steering your readers through the content funnel and nudging them further “down” towards your product in the next section.

Evergreen content helps you manage your funnel

Evergreen content also helps you manage your content funnel and content mix better than spiky content.

When starting with content creation, you might focus on producing awareness-level evergreen content that brings people into the top of your content funnel. Let’s assume you are working for a business in the data warehouse space. Your awareness-level articles will likely be high-level overviews and definitions of key industry terms like:

  • “What are system integrations?”
  • “What is a data warehouse?”

Next, you might focus on consideration-level evergreen content. This type of content represents the middle of your content funnel and can be described as content that makes your readers realize they actually might have a problem they were not aware of that warrants solving. This could be content like:

  • “How data warehouses help you run your business more efficiently”
  • “How connecting information from different data sources helps you understand your users better”

Last, you could focus on longer-tail keywords by writing decision-level evergreen content. These pieces will help guide customers who are already aware of the problem and have decided they’d like to resolve it, so they represent the bottom of your content funnel. Examples might include:

  • “How to integrate Salesforce with <our product>”
  • “Setting up your first data pipeline using <our product>”

Content funnel

When looking at these three stages, you might realize that generating a significant volume of traffic is harder the deeper you are into the content funnel. Getting lots of readers for awareness pieces is easier because the content covered is more “generic” - the topics relate to a multitude of audiences - but the more specific our content gets, the fewer people are searching for it.

This is why having a good content mix is key. You should regularly monitor the performance of your content (especially traffic and time on page) in its respective funnel stages by running content audits to identify “gaps” in your funnel. This also means you need to be able to define where each piece you publish falls in the content funnel.

To learn more about how you can do this, check out our module on “Content Audits and Refreshes.”

Analyze your created content and your content mix

Let’s revisit the example of the data warehouse company mentioned earlier. After auditing your published content and seeing where it fits in the buyer’s journey, you might realize that you are lacking content aimed at the consideration phase (the middle of the funnel).

You brainstorm a few ideas that fit into that stage, run a keyword audit, define headlines for a few articles, and start writing and optimizing these pieces for your target keywords. This leads you to create middle-of-funnel content like:

  • “Why your traditional data warehouse is not good enough anymore”
  • “Why Reverse ETL is taking over”

You publish these pieces, and now you have a way to move customers through the consideration phase of the funnel.

This process works, even with completely anonymous visitors, because you know that a reader has “dropped into your funnel” at a specific stage with a specific intent in mind. They entered a search term into their search engine of choice and ended up on one of your blog posts. You know which stage of the funnel that blog post is in, you have other relevant content pieces that you link to from it (ideally pushing the reader further down the funnel), and you can use those pieces to teach users about your product and eventually help them convert into a paying user.

As mentioned earlier in this course, creating a content engine is a science, not an art. Each piece of content you create should be aimed at a specific stage in the funnel. You have the power to orchestrate the journey your readers take and meet them with links to other content pieces and the best calls to action (CTAs).

Creating evergreen content helps you maintain consistent output, establish your authority around a set of specific keywords, and gives you a collection of articles that can be transformed into your first gated asset. This process of content audit, keyword audit, strategic content creation, internal backlinks, and intentional CTAs allows you to create a predictable content engine for your business.

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