What is Evergreen Content

Evergreen Content is a subject I talk about quite frequently on this blog, but it’s not something I’ve ever devoted a post to explaining. Hopefully this post will solve that problem.

Evergreen content is content written with the goal of driving traffic to a website for a long period of time. In some cases, such as when the content is historical and will never change (something like the presidency of Zachary Taylor), the content can live for the life of the website with little or no updating. In other cases, the content may have a long lifespan but must be updated every few years. An example of this would be something like “year end tax strategies for seniors”, which changes every few years as the tax laws change.

When planning/writing evergreen content, do your keyword research first and make sure your page/post/url’s are very keyword centric (see Keep Your Articles Narrowly Focused and Keyword Centric). You want to avoid catchy, cute, and witty titles as they will almost always drive less traffic. Your evergreen content generally will fall into two categories: high level reference/resource/research oriented pieces or flagship content. It is possible for them to be both. Some examples of evergreen content are as follows:

  • How to style posts like how to plan a kitchen
  • Historical posts about people places or things like the TWA terminal at JFK airport
  • Encyclopedic or reference style posts about things like saffron or 1955 Lincoln Futura
  • Informational posts like airline luggage fees

One of the subtleties of evergreen content is that it requires little if any updating. However, that’s not to say that evergreen content has to be about “old things”. For example, once the 2011 Ford Mustang goes on sale, it won’t change much and falls into the category of evergreen content.

Sometimes evergreen content only has a limited lifespan, such as “how to format a hard drive for windows 95“. When you are developing content like this, you need to factor that information into your page/post/URL structure. For example this would be a sub optimal choice:

How to Format A Hard Drive
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive/

When operating systems update to windows 98, windows xp, windows vista, and windows 7, you’ll have a problem. I suggest going with this arrangement:

How to Format a Hard Drive – Windows 95
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive-windows-95/

If you follow that format, when new operating systems come out you can create new content like:

How to Format a Hard Drive – Windows 98
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive-windows-98/

How to Format a Hard Drive – Windows XP
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive-windows-xp/

How to Format a Hard Drive – Windows Vista
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive-windows-vista/

How to Format a Hard Drive – Windows 7
example.com/how-to-format-hard-drive-windows-7/

What I would then do is have create a head piece entitled “How to Format Your Hard Drive” with links to each of the individual articles mentioned above (see Creating Head & Tail Content for more on this approach). Another issue to be aware of  is that sometimes it’s better to use a Living URL’s and Predictive SEO approach with evergreen content. Above I mentioned how the 2010 Ford Mustang would be considered evergreen content. What I would do is put that content on two URL’s

example.com/ford/mustang/
example.com/ford/mustang/2010/

Now, generally speaking, an SEO will advise you against creating duplicate content, but this is a special case. If you’ve done your internal linking properly, the (example.com/ford/mustang/) will have more link equity and be considered the ordinal URL for the duplicate content (please don’t try to do this with 301’s and the canonical tag because you will do more damage than good). Once the 2011 model comes out you will update the content on (example.com/ford/mustang/) and place the same content on (example.com/ford/mustang/2011/). The search engines will no longer see (example.com/ford/mustang/2010/) as dupe content and, with proper linking and anchor text from (example.com/ford/mustang/), you’ll be fine. One final aspect of this process is to link to (example.com/ford/mustang/) when you refer to the Ford Mustang in general but link to (example.com/ford/mustang/2010/) when referring to that model. You should make sure the model/year page does have some internal links.

So what are the takeaways here:
  • Research your topic and keywords to determine your evergreen content
  • Keep the evergreen articles narrowly focused
  • Determine if the evergreen content will be short term or long term and how you will do address updates if required
  • Look for ways to link new evergreen content via head & tail, living URL, and predictive SEO tactics

photo credit: Nicholas_T

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