The magazine industry has long used “evergreen” features to fill out its pages. These stories are ones that have no time element to them; they’re not tied to Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day or July 4. They’re about things that remain relevant in our daily lives no matter how many months or years go by, like tips for saving money at the grocery store or cleaning the house faster. The beauty of these evergreen features is they can be written long in advance and used to patch a hole whenever the need should arise.
Now the web has begun to embrace evergreen content as well. The trend right now is toward high-quality, longer-form content that offers real value to readers, and evergreen content fits that bill perfectly. There’s no expiration date on the topic or the information contained within the post, and so it can continue to gain traffic long after you’ve published.
Here are a few expert tips on how to craft the best evergreen posts. Use these ideas to write posts that will remain fresh and relevant on your blog for years to come.
1. Determine the Shelf Life of Your Topic
The most important thing to remember in crafting evergreen copy is making sure that it will still be helpful information not just two weeks but two years down the road. Approach it as you would writing a book. You want the information to stand the test of time.
For instance, a topic for a blog for an SEO company might be “how to write great content.” The importance of high-quality content never wanes, and the guidelines for producing it are always the same. The writing should be clear and concise, and the topic should be relevant to the blog’s audience. This sort of post could be referenced for years to come, because the hints and information don’t expire.
2. Don’t Jump on Something Trendy
By that same token, if you want your post to stand the test of time, don’t write about something super trendy in SEO or content marketing or any other area your blog might touch on. It’s kind of like looking back at pictures of yourself from the 1990s. You can laugh about all that flannel, but no one would trust you to make their fashion choices after seeing those shots. Same goes for the web.
Though you can craft fun and interesting posts on trendy topics, they are not fodder for evergreen content because the information will be old news within a matter of weeks or months. Same goes for cute, trendy references in your writing. It may have felt very au courant to reference Miley Cyrus and twerking in the fall 2013, but by spring 2014 that reference will be embarrassingly dated. You don’t want anything on your evergreen posts that might tag them as out of touch and make people wonder if your information is also outdated.
3. Embrace Controversy
Even in the world of evergreen content, there is room for controversy, and as web analytics will tell you, controversy results in greater traffic. You don’t have to stake out a radical opinion. You just have to inform people about the root cause of the controversy and give a fair and balanced discussion of each side’s argument.
When you do this, people will flock to your page to post comments. Oftentimes both sides will be firing off so many comments that the page will continue to get views long after the post has been published. The key is to find an enduring topic where there is no right or wrong, only strong opinions on both sides. Don’t choose a topic that could be disproven by research or a change in Google algorithms somewhere down the line. A couple ideas: Internet privacy or the value of pop-up ads.
4. Write a How-To
The web is the No. 1 resource for people searching for how to do something. Whether they explain how to change a tire, fix a lawnmower or unclog a sink, articles on how to accomplish everyday tasks are some of the most dependable evergreen topics, because there is always a need for this information.
These ideas can be applied to business blogging as well. You can write a detailed breakdown of how to read Google Analytics or structuring an SEO-friendly site.
5. Look at the Big Picture
There are certain things that will always be important to people. Look on Google to see what the ‘top searches from year to year have in common, and write a post that’s aimed at attracting those people. Or think about your industry and the things that have held true about it for years and years. Center your article on those long-lasting truths and it will never go out of date.
6. Don’t Date Yourself
It’s tempting to write about “next month,” “last year” or “the upcoming holiday season.” But be careful not to date yourself. You want people to be reading this post well into the future, and making references to an upcoming date or event will be confusing to someone who reads it six months from now.
7. Make It Valuable
All of your evergreen posts should be providing something of high value to readers. This should represent some of your best work, because you want it to be attracting traffic well into the future. As a bonus, as the post picks up traffic, it will rise in search rankings because of the timelessness and importance of the information.
Follow these tips and you’ll have a great starting point to writing evergreen posts. They’ll form a great backbone for your blog and help generate traffic and leads for years to come.