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Evergreen Content: How to Choose the Best Blog Topics

shutterstock_189327413When selecting a blog post topic, there are generally two paths you can take. You can choose to write about trending topics — those that are popular right now, but have a limited lifespan.

Or, you can choose to write about evergreen topics — those that are popular now, and will continue to be useful for months or even years.

As content marketers, it is important that we understand how they differ.  In this post, I will first look at the difference between the two topic types and then show you how to capitalize on evergreen topics.

Trending Topics vs. Evergreen Topics

The easiest way to differentiate trending topics from evergreen topics is to use an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics. A blog post on a trending topic will get a high volume of social shares and traffic when published. As the topic becomes outdated, the traffic will decrease dramatically, as seen below.

GA 1

A blog post on an evergreen topic, on the other hand, will still get a high volume of social shares and traffic when published. But unlike a trending topic, an evergreen topic will not become outdated immediately. Thus, it will continue to attract traffic over time.

GA 2

This evergreen content will have long-term effects on your business. Instead of performing well for a small window of time, this post will provide months or even years of traffic and potential conversions for business.

How to Pick Evergreen Topics

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How do you pick the right evergreen topics for your blog? It’s as simple as answering three questions:

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What topics are your customers interested in?
  3. How can you make those topics stand the test of time?

Let’s look at an example of a business that sells project management software.

The business’ customers are project managers. They are going to be interested in topics about project management and productivity. Posts about how to be an effective project manager and how to boost productivity would be perfect evergreen topics aimed at their target audience.

But what about a business that offers social media management services? The first two questions can be answered easily. The business’ customers are social media managers. They are going to be interested in topics about social media. But, social media changes rapidly, so if you write a post about how to create a Facebook page today, it could easily be outdated tomorrow.

We must create topics that are even more basic, and in this case, based on social media fundamentals. This company should consider topics such as how to craft engaging updates, how to build fans, and the differences between profiles, pages, and groups. These would be perfect evergreen topics aimed at their target audience.

A recent post about content marketing traits from Curata features eight broad skills that content marketers should have (e.g. creativity, humor, writing skills). The writer could have focused on one skill that was particularly in demand at the time (e.g. SEO knowhow), but instead chose a broader topic that would lead to a successful, evergreen post.

Optimize Evergreen Posts for Search Engines

After the social sharing has died down for a post, most of the traffic will come from search engines. This is why you need to focus on optimizing evergreen posts for search engines.

Once the post has been written, start with basic on-page search optimization. Run some keywords that relate to the content of your post in Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

Select a keyword phrase that has strong search volume, and then add it to the post’s title, first paragraph, image file name and alt tag, and the meta description. The latter item won’t help with search rankings, but these 165 characters will show up in search engines. Use compelling language — this is the place to convince people to click.

Next, do some off-site search optimization, otherwise known as link building. A few ideas include sharing the post with other bloggers who write about the same topic or looking for questions throughout the web that you can answer by referencing your post. Read Curata’s post on SEO and link building for additional ways to bolster search engine rankings.

Consider Removing Dates from Evergreen Content

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If your blog will be home to mostly evergreen content, then think about removing the dates on all blog posts. Even though productivity tips do not go out of date, readers might skip over a post if they realize it is several years old.

In addition to removing the dates on all blog posts, consider removing the dates from blog comments. Similar to how readers might skip over a post if it is several years old, readers might decide not to participate in a discussion if they see that the last comment is several years old. But if there isn’t a date on the comments, they might be more inclined to contribute to the conversation or stir up a new debate.

Don’t Forget About Ongoing Promotion and Maintenance

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One of the great things about evergreen content is that you can continue to promote it on a regular basis because it never gets outdated. Look for opportunities to promote it on social channels, in emails, and on Q&A networks like Quora.

Evergreen posts can also be optimized for new conversions. Look for ways to increase the number of subscribers, leads, and customers generated from evergreen content. This could include moving the call to action from the bottom of the post to the middle of the post or updating the call to action with a new offer .

Also, remember that evergreen content is constantly generating traffic, so comments will continue to come in. To keep the comment section alive, moderate the comments to remove spam and reply to new legitimate comments. Particularly, look out for comments when the content gets renewed interest on social media or a new mention on another blog.

Evergreen in Action

While trending topics can drive a lot of immediate results, evergreen content can drive steady results for a longer period of time. This makes evergreen blog topics an essential part of any content marketing strategy. Here are a few examples of successful evergreen topics:

  • At When I Work, an employee scheduling software, we often struggle with finding new and “sexy” topics to write about. Instead, we stick to evergreen topics, such as recruiting, management and industry news. One post, The Pros and Cons of Raising Minimum Wage, was published in March 2014. It focuses on a very basic (and some may say unsexy) topic: minimum wage.|Because this topic is broad but still sparks debate, the post has received a steady stream of page views over time (as you can see in the Google Analytics screenshot below). To date, the post has generated over 67,000 page views, 34 comments and $25,000 in revenue.

GA 3

 

  • Curata, a content marketing software, has chosen to tackle the evergreen topic of marketing tools. There are always new, hot marketing best practices, but one fact remains the same: marketers need tools to streamline the process. This particular post, Content Marketing Tools: The Ultimate List, breaks down the tools universe into several categories and provides a brief description of each tool.This post receives steady page views each week (as seen below) and to date has generated over 40,000 page views, 31 comments and $22,000 in revenue.GA 4

For this post, upkeep and maintenance is particularly important. To ensure that it is optimized for new viewers, it is updated every six months to add new tools and reorganize the map to reflect emerging categories (e.g. domain asset management tools or competitive analytics tools).

Use these two posts as guidance when picking blog topics for the coming year. Although writing about the hottest trends has certain benefits, covering these evergreen topics will leave you destined for long-term success.

For more stellar examples of business blogs, blogging best practices and related benchmarks data, download Curata’s latest eBook, Business Blogging Secrets Revealed.

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Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel writes about business, marketing, and growth. He currently the VP of Marketing at When I Work, and previously founded Single Grain, a San Francisco-based digital marketing agency. He’s helped companies like Sales Force, TurboTax, Sony, Mint, and hundreds of others acquire more customers, build brand awareness, and grow their businesses.

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