pros and cons of evergreen content

The Pros and Cons of “Evergreen” (And What It Means for Your Content)

Amanda Milligan 0 Comments

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pros and cons of evergreen content
The concept of evergreen content is nothing new, and it’s talked about for good reason. Content that lasts longer has long-term value, which is a great benefit for your audience. However, despite this major advantage, focusing too much on making something evergreen could be detrimental to its promotional success if the focus is on long-lasting content and not content that is relevant and valuable to audiences now (which is what publishers are interested in).

While the intricacies of the definition of evergreen may vary slightly from person to person, for the purposes of this post, we’re going to define it as:

evergreen definition

Our “Barbie Body” campaign, which addressed the sensitive but always timely issue of body image, is a great example of evergreen content.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of evergreen content and how to make it work for your marketing initiatives.

Advantages and Disadvantages

When you create something, you don’t want to think it’s only going to be useful for a few months and then fall out of the public eye. Making something evergreen has an inherent appeal – it helps lengthen the life of the content you create, making it feel like the effort you put into it was worth the payout – but there are other benefits as well.

  1. Having content that constantly provides value can really bolster your brand’s authority and reputation. Evergreen content positions your company as one that cares about its customers/readers and wants to provide them with something that isn’t just for the here and now.
  2. If the content lives on your website, it also increases the chances that users will go back to your site to reference it – helping you increase traffic and overall authority of your brand. This is especially true for how-to guides.
  3. There’s an easy way to get even more mileage out of evergreen content, and that is to update it periodically with the newest information available and then re-promote it.
  4. Because the content remains timely, you can also relaunch promotional efforts down the road to earn more placements – particularly when relevant events happen that complement the story you’ve told with your data.
  5. If you take the time to occasionally revamp evergreen guides with new tips, you can influence your rankings.
  6. Evergreen content can have significant link-worthiness. For example, Moz’s SEO guide earned about 1,700 backlinks from 375 referring domains.

However, the natural appeal of evergreen content can leave some marketers craving only evergreen content. After all, why not only produce content that’s going to last forever – or at least for several months to a few years?

But here’s the truth:

not all content should be evergreen

Evergreen content typically can’t be too focused on an individual event, topic, or dataset, because the information will eventually become outdated. In other words, broadening a campaign’s focus just because you want to make it evergreen isn’t always a great strategy and can be detrimental to your goals.

For instance, if you make your content too general, it’s no longer as poignant (i.e. it lacks specific details and current facts). Even though something may not hold true in the future, it’s true right now – and for a lot of people, that’s just as important.

Which Ideas are Optimal for Evergreen Content?

If only some content topics can be evergreen, how can you tell which ones to choose? There are a few key points to look for when considering whether to take an evergreen approach.

Is the idea addressing a universal truth/trend rather than a here-and-now truth/trend?

This may sound a bit bizarre without context, but ultimately the point is this: What are you trying to say? Is the objective of your campaign to list the best places to visit this year, or is it to explain why you should spend your money on experiences instead of things?

The first of these two examples is based on current insights into places worth visiting this year. It offers a current, here-and-now truth that can be very useful to travel enthusiasts (i.e. it’s not evergreen). This list could be more valuable, though, if you want to target a niche audience that is looking for more than the most popular places to visit every year – something that has already been posted about many times on travel sites.

In the second example, the content is based on the science behind why one choice is better than the other. While we can’t say results will never change – studies on the benefits of travel are released regularly – this piece reflects an overall concept rather than something that only applies now, which makes it evergreen. This approach worked and really resonated with readers, receiving more than 1.8 million total shares, according to BuzzSumo.

key takeway 1

Is the idea tool- or resource-based?

If you’re going to take the time, money, and effort to develop a tool or calculator for readers, making something that’s only relevant for the next few months may not be worth the resources you put into its creation.

key takeaway 2

In what way is your idea newsworthy?

There are several elements of newsworthiness. Depending on which ones apply to your idea, you may be able to get a glimpse into what kind of content you should be producing (whether it’s timely or evergreen).

 

timely elements

evergreen elements

 

Without going into the definitions of these elements, the general way to think of this is that evergreen content should function like a feature story rather than a hard news story.
Feature stories explore concepts, trends, and information that doesn’t have an immediacy to it, which is why elements like human interest and consequence fall into the “evergreen” category. Imagine your idea is going to be turned into a news article – would you cut right to the chase in the first paragraph, or would you build up to a conclusion?

key takeaway 3

Another important consideration to keep in mind when figuring out whether your content strategy should be evergreen is to see if you have the resources to continue promoting a campaign in a year’s time or even several years’ time. Sure, organic traffic can continue as a result of a strong initial performance, but you’ll most likely need to be ready to re-promote the content way down the line to get more links. If you can’t do this, consider sticking with timely content you can heavily promote when it’s at its peak relevance.

Best of Both Worlds: A Strategy That Includes Timely and Evergreen Content

You’re not going to be able to have a million ideas that are both timely and evergreen, but you can outline a strategy that includes both timely and evergreen content so you can reap the benefits of each type.

The most important factor in achieving this is to have efficient ideation. When you begin brainstorming different ideas that provide value to your audience, make sure to ask yourself the following:

timely and evergreen ideas

If you can answer these questions, you’re on your way to having a campaign idea with both timely and evergreen assets that tell the full story.

The next important step in ensuring your strategy features both evergreen and timely elements is to allocate time to developing a content plan. Once you have an idea you’re confident will work, consider the following:

What are the timely aspects of this campaign, and how can they best be illustrated in an emotionally compelling way?

Once you’ve identified the timely aspects, consider what kind of content will best communicate the emotion and urgency of those key insights while also making sure the content is easily shareable. A good rule of thumb? If it’s timely, create a compact visual asset that is straightforward – it can be shared quickly and easily across platforms and publishers. Some examples include infographics, slideshows, videos, and other assorted images.

What are the evergreen aspects of this campaign, and how can these insights be illustrated in an emotionally compelling way?

Now it’s time to identify those universal truths your campaign is trying to explore and contemplate how to communicate these themes to your audience.

One of the best ways to create the evergreen portion of a campaign is to generate a landing page that highlights these ideas. The benefits include:

landing page benefitsHow long will production take, and will this length of time exceed the timeliness of the topic?

This is extremely important to think about before you get started on your content. Consider the topic you’re exploring and how newsworthy it is now, and predict how long it’ll remain newsworthy. Here are some tips on how to estimate this.

  • On average, there is a 26-day window surrounding each event where the bulk of publishing happens.
  • In some cases, the days before (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day) or after an event (Academy Awards, Grammys) are bigger publishing dates than the actual event date.

For more detail on our findings, you can explore the campaign we created for Alexa about this very topic.

Then work with your content team to estimate how long it’ll take to develop the assets you’ve chosen to create. Articles and basic graphics won’t take more than a month, while interactive content and videos can be in production for several months.

If your content timeline surpasses the end of the newsworthiness of the topic, you will need to re-evaluate your tactics. At this point, you can either:

content timeline tips

content timeline tips 2

However, if the timelines work out, get production started and make sure to have a buffer added so you don’t end up struggling to get content promoted at the last minute due to a delayed production schedule.

A landing page and static asset combination is a great overall approach to consider when an idea is chosen. The evergreen content can live on the landing page so people can reference it in the future, and the shareable assets can highlight the timely elements, as they’ll be published and talked about now, when the information is most relevant.

Being mindful about the purpose of your content and how timely it is will allow you to determine the best way to proceed with creating it. By outlining a strategy that includes both timely and evergreen content, you can maximize the positive results of each type and gain both short- and long-term traction.

To learn more and discover how we executed a mixed-strategy for our client Fanatics, check out the case study here.

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Amanda Milligan

As the Branded Content Manager for Fractl, Amanda's responsible for all on-site content, working to improve our brand engagement and enhance the agency's organic traffic growth strategy. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Content Marketing Institute, CMO, and more. When she's not obsessing over the comma placement in blog posts, she's probably out singing karaoke or waiting for "Westworld" to come back (curse you, 2017).

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