Evergreen Content and SEO
Years ago, one of my clients did a simple thing that is still powering their SEO efforts today: they had me write a niche article on a topic that was loosely related to their industry, and posted it on their website.
At the time it didn’t seem overly special. Just another article in a list of articles. It was maybe 900 words, and it broke down some differences in common industry tasks.
(I’m being purposely vague here as we don’t need more articles on the subject suddenly popping up.)
But this article was fun to read, took a dry topic and made it interesting (my specialty), and it was informative as well. As a result, it slowly but steadily rose in the rankings. People read it, and a few shared/bookmarked it. Over the years, some high-trust / high-authority industry domains eventually linked to it, and though it never “went viral”, within a few years it was a top result for its niche. It’s still a top result, bringing thousands of website visits a year.
Now, most of those visits have no immediate interest in my client’s services. They aren’t really prospects (although I’m sure a few are converted). But that’s not the point.
The larger payoff here is the overall SEO boost this article gives their website. Google absolutely loves content like this. Articles that people read, bookmark, and eventually get linked to by respected websites.
The article has been incredibly powerful for them over the years, and keeps on working and working, without complaint (or cost!)
This type of content is called “Evergreen Content”. It stays relevant and fresh year after year, like an evergreen tree.
There’s no way around it – Evergreen Content on your site that people read and bookmark is priceless.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of these articles, let me address one thing that’s the biggest roadblock to acquiring them: the willingness to actually do it.
Why is that a roadblock? Well, how willing are you to spend time or money on something that has no immediate payoff, and may never?
Remember, this isn’t an article meant to drive sales, and many companies won’t see beyond that. I can hear them now: Pay someone to write articles that aren’t going to directly produce sales? Please…
But again, sales are not the point. The point is what successful articles like this tell Google. It tells them you are an expert in that niche and industry. That people and other websites look to your site for information. That gives your entire website a powerful SEO boost that cannot be replicated any other way.
How to Get Effective Evergreen Articles for SEO
As you might guess, writing a good evergreen article that actually produces for you is not easy, and cannot be done on demand. There are several boxes that all need checking.
In my mind, here’s what it takes – it’s 50% quality (both website and the article itself), 25% industry/niche, and 25% luck. Let’s go over these:
1) Pick Your Niche Topic and Write the Article – No matter what you do, you are likely in many industries. For example, a manufacturer of hydraulic aviation parts is in the manufacturing industry, the aviation industry, the hydraulic industry, the travel industry, the parts industry, and probably a few others. Within each of these industries is an almost limitless number of niches that can be written about. The history of a certain type of aircraft, the flash point of hydraulic fluid in aircraft use, how various inventions affected the travel industry, etc.
The point is to pick something that loosely relates to your industry, but not be something where there’s already a billion pages on it (overall aircraft safety, for example). We’re looking for something that has both appeal and “industry expertise.” It does not have to exclusively target your core customers – remember, we’re not really looking for sales.
(That would be nice of course, but it’s exceedingly rare. Because topics that result in sales are more “obvious” and have been done to death).
Ok, here’s another good example – a baseball training school having an article on the history of left handed infielders, or maybe even a specific one. There are a few articles out there, but they start to peter out after 20 results or so. That’s a solid niche for the baseball industry.
A good article on that will probably draw decent interest over time. If people like it, it’ll also eventually draw links. Yes, most visitors probably won’t be interested in the school’s training, but who cares? It makes the site itself more authoritative for “baseball” in Google’s eyes, which is exactly what this baseball school wants.
2) Website and Article Quality – In what should be a shock to exactly nobody, this writer is going to say the quality of the article is going to matter most. That’s because in a lot of ways 1 and 3 are not fully controllable, but article (and website) quality 100% are.
The way articles become evergreen and powerful SEO pieces is if people actually read them and enjoy them, which eventually leads to authoritative outside links. Boring articles that don’t engage people don’t get read and linked. That can even hurt you – people quickly leaving a page is a negative to Google.
Besides quality, you also need content in quantity. One article on an island might get some play, but it’s far more likely to succeed if it’s surrounded by other articles/posts. People spending time clicking around your site and reading is noticed.
3) Dumb Luck – You will likely have to throw several things against the wall until one sticks. Like I mentioned, the topic has to be relevant enough that people will search for it, but not too popular that everyone else already chimed in. Plus, even though you may think you found the perfect niche, maybe there just isn’t enough interest in it to really grow the page.
Sometimes there’s no good way to know this until it happens. Nobody knew we liked yelling girls and a cat until someone made the meme. And my client (and I) had no idea this particular article would have legs until it did. I just wrote an article every month for them, and this one happened to strike gold.
A few more random tips on writing an evergreen SEO article:
Forget the sales message. We aren’t looking for this article to sell anything. In fact, one of my biggest business pet peeves is companies that must have a sales message everywhere. Trust me, people will figure out if they need you without having a sales message on every single piece of content or social media post. The very best websites have plenty of content that isn’t directly selling anything.
Don’t “try” to hit a home run – Take it from a writer: you can’t will this stuff to happen. Make it useful, make it interesting, and make it engaging. The rest happens on its own. If the article is good, you will eventually get SEO from it. Some more than others.
Don’t Stuff Keywords – Make the article about a certain thing (with the headline being the keyphrase / thought you wish to target), and the rest of the keywords will just naturally happen. Your articles should be 800-1,000+ words.
Promote it on your social media – Get it on your social media, and maybe hit it again annually in a “always liked this article” way. But don’t expect tons of comments or engagement – again, you can’t force this stuff, and people on social media are usually not that quick to engage with business content.
Have a bunch of articles – A blog or article page that consistently gets updated is very good (once or twice a month is fine). But again, make them useful to your industry and interesting (and fun) to readers, and not so much “here’s what we do” sales messaging – your website’s selling pages should handle the sales. The rest is support.
Not every post or piece of content need to be hard hitting either. A blog of funny industry terms is always neat. A story from your company’s early days, or maybe something on your local sports team… In other words, be human. It keeps people reading and interested.
Rank position is relative. You may never be top 10 or even top 20. They key is to outrank your competitors apples to apples. If you write an article, and in a year it averages position 52 for a search, and your direct/local competition is in the 100’s for the same query, guess what – you’re winning!
Keep at it – If you update your blog or article page twice a month, that’s 24 posts a year. Let’s call it 25 so I can say that after 4 years, you’ve got 100 pieces of content up there. That alone makes a website VERY strong. If just a few of those become strong “SEO evergreen” like I’m talking about, and you’ve got a bunch of other interesting posts to read, you’ve got a serious SEO boost and traffic magnet.
DO IT. Get planting your Evergreen SEO seeds. Sometimes the key is just doing it. Years are going to pass anyway. If you are interested in SEO, then letting them pass as you build Evergreen SEO content is far superior than doing nothing. You can’t go back in time four years ago to produce SEO content. And four years from now, you won’t be able to come back to today.