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If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? It may be cliché, but that quote truly applies to evergreen content. Seriously—if you create content and nobody reads it, does it even make an impression?

Timely vs. Evergreen Content

I often have discussions with clients on the various values content can have on their marketing efforts. Are we looking to build brand awareness through top of funnel, educational content? Are we looking to generate leads with mid-funnel content? Are we trying to close competitor gaps by ranking higher in search for a particular keyword?

It’s important to keep in mind the goals or purpose of every content piece you’re spending time (and/or money) to create. For instance, not all content needs to have organic search value; if it’s extremely targeted it may prove most, or only, valuable when amplified properly across email and social channels to relevant audiences. Or for an innovative B2B technology, search may not exist around the service they offer, so the content we create is intended to be shared and acts as more of a sales enablement tool.

One problem with novel and timely content, as well as content that isn’t written with SEO in mind, is that its traffic and engagement peaks high and fast when it’s shared, but then trails off to nothing. This type of content has its place—especially due to its often sharable nature—but there’s a lot of pressure to stay relevant and maintain engagement if you’re not a news outlet and this is all you’re producing.

It’s also the reason why sites like Vox, Buzzfeed and Refinery29 are cutting back their content teams. There’s no long-term value.

What is Evergreen Content?

On the other side of the coin is evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that’s always relevant (like how evergreen trees are always green and don’t die in the winter).

Evergreen content often lives in a resource center vs. a blog from a content organization and user experience perspective; however, blog posts can also be evergreen. Content intended to educate or inform people is one of the most common types of evergreen content—think “how-to’s” or FAQs. Evergreen content allows you to essentially set it and forget it. It is always relevant and requires little to no updating year-over-year.

Seasonal content can also be evergreen content in that it’s relevant year-over-year. It may not be relevant all year, but when the time comes, seasonal content can maintain its evergreen nature.

Stories tied to pop-culture or current events lose their relevance and luster once the next big thing comes along.

The Value of Evergreen Content

If it isn’t clear already, the true value of evergreen content is that it’s always relevant and provides long-term value. This is because it is (or should be) created with search in mind. Before it’s amplified, or even if it’s not amplified at all, good evergreen content will drive consistent traffic after it’s published.

An Example of Evergreen Content

For instance, this blog post, originally published in 2016, on Applying to Law School with a High LSAT Score and Low GPA serves as a guide to law students. Although it’s posted on a blog (vs. a resource center), you can see that it drives consistent traffic year over year.

*We recently made a strategic decision to refresh this post, resulting in an increased organic footprint and coinciding increase in traffic (but that’s a topic for another blog post).

An Example of Timely Content

Let’s take a look at a piece of time-sensitive content on the same brand’s blog. This post, A Look at the June 2017 LSAT: Logic Games, was extremely timely. It provided great value as a recap in July 2017 when it was posted; however, its value was short lived. Shortly after it was initially shared, it no longer had relevance as evidenced by the sharp dive in traffic month-over-month immediately following its initial publishing.

Evergreen Content Works Harder AND Smarter

With all of this in mind, evergreen content can act as a pillar, or hub of sorts, to internally link to and from related articles. If the piece of content consistently drives traffic, you should leverage it to its fullest potential by incorporating links to related content visitors might find valuable. Download our Keyword Research & Content Pillar Guide to learn more about this concept.

Examples of Evergreen Content

Evergreen content can come in a variety of forms (just like evergreen trees!). A handful of examples of evergreen content include:

  • FAQs
  • “How To” Articles
  • Listicles or Resource Round-Ups
  • Glossaries
  • Educational Guides
  • Best Practice White Papers
  • Case Studies

Data is important to include in content, but it’s important to note that any evergreen content that mentions trending statistics may need to be updated more regularly. To cover your bases, you should always reference the year a stat comes from and link to the data source. This way your content can maintain integrity over time. Updates to the data source link may redirect for the person consuming your content to the most recent numbers.

Ready to start creating evergreen content?  Check out our anatomy of an ideal blog strategy post to dig into additional content types you should consider creating and how amplification should play into your content strategy.

Want some help? Let us know and we’ll provide the content marketing expertise to get you going.

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