This post is based on episode 136 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Back in 2007 I was asked a question:
“If you could only write one type of content on your blogs forever, what would it be?”
My answer then is the same as my answer now: evergreen content.
What is Evergreen Content, and Why is it Important?
Evergreen content is content that stays fresh for your readers. It doesn’t become dated, and is just as relevant years after you wrote it.
Now while a lot of blogs are very successful without writing evergreen content, I’ve definitely found it a great basis for my own blog’s success.
And I’m not the only blogger who thinks this. Here’s what Tim Ferriss said in a podcast episode back in 2015:
If you’re building an audience, the most labor efficient way to build an audience over time is to have evergreen content. I write long pieces that will be more valuable from an SEO real estate standpoint two years from the day I write it compared to the week it launches, if that makes sense.
Were you to look at my back catalog and the stats—I’m on WordPress VIP—or Google Analytics, you would see that my most popular post that each get hundreds of thousands of visits per month were written several years ago. That’s very much by design, I’m not upset by that because I fully expect that some of the articles I write this year, for instance my post on Practical Thoughts on Suicide which is a very intense post, I expect that will continue to gather steam and be spread around and shared and a year from now will be right in the Top 10 rankings which is very important to me.
So why write evergreen content? Because it’s a great way to:
- Help people: Evergreen content is a great investment because it serves your readers as much in the future as when you write it. The piece of content you publish today can potentially have a positive impact on people in ten years’ time. That’s a pretty amazing thing.
- Get ongoing traffic: In terms of traffic, evergreen content should cover a topic that will be searched for again and again. If you can choose a topic that’s a growing trend – something you think will be the next big thing in your niche – it can work out even better.
- Interlink your posts: Evergreen content is the type of content you can refer back to in future posts. Many of the examples I’ll give you later from Digital Photography School and ProBlogger are cornerstone pieces of content I continue to drive traffic to from my ongoing posts.
- Engage new readers: You can link to evergreen content from your navigation menu or sidebar. On ProBlogger, Make Money Blogging is piece of evergreen content that’s been live for years. I update it from time to time, and I continue to drive traffic to it from blog posts as well as from our navigation.
- Share repeatedly: Evergreen content can be shared again and again on social media. If I review a new camera, I can probably promote it on social media for a couple of months before it becomes less relevant. But with a blog post that won’t become dated, I could keep sharing it for ten years.
- Repurpose: Once you have evergreen content in one format, you can repurpose it into another. For example, some of my podcast episodes started out as pieces I’d already published on the blog. If you have a piece of evergreen content that’s performing well, ask yourself what other mediums you could repurpose it into.
- Gather backlinks: Evergreen content also tends to be the type of content other bloggers will want to link to, which can help you both direct traffic from that blog’s readers and boost your search engine rankings.
Examples of “Now” Content vs “Evergreen” Content
Now Content: Get Excited About the New Adobe Lightroom CC
Back in 2015 we published a post on Digital Photography School about Adobe’s new version of Lightroom – Lightroom CC. This is what I’d call “now” content. It was massive news in our community, as Lightroom is the most popular post-processing tool our readers use.
That post did really well for us. In the first week after it went life we had 12,000 page views. But then traffic tailed off. When I looked at the stats a year later, the post had just a handful of views – perhaps a thousand page views in that year. And most of those were in the second and third week after the post went live.
If your blog has mainly “now” content, you’ll probably see similar trends. You might be able to keep traffic coming in for a little while by re-sharing your post on social media a few times. But ultimately this type of content doesn’t attract much ongoing traffic.
Evergreen content looks very different.
Evergreen Content: ISO Settings in Digital Photography
This post was an introduction to a photography concept called ISO. If you’ve got a film camera at home, you’ll remember that film used to have an ISO of a certain number. So this post explains what ISO means – and in particular what it means for digital photography today.
The day that post when live, DPS was a smaller blog. The post got 100 page views in the first week and then it tapered off to 40 or 50 visitors a day over the second and third week – a similar pattern to the traffic for the Lightroom post.
But then things began to grow.
A year after the post was published it was getting 200 to 300 post views per day.
Two years after it was published it was getting 700 page views per day.
Three years after it was published it was getting 1,000 page views per day.
Since then it’s been getting 1,000–1,500 views per day, although it can be as high as 10,000 views on days when I reshare it on Facebook.
Although I wrote that post in 2007, it continues to be valuable from my readers. It gets traffic primarily from search engines, but also from social media when I (or our readers) share it. It’s also a post other people link to when they want to explain what ISO is, which continues to help it grow.
The Adobe Lightroom post and the ISO post both took no more than a couple of hours to write. But investing time and effort into the ISO post (the evergreen content) was worth much more than investing it into the Lightroom post (the “now” content).
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with writing about today’s issues knowing those posts will date. We have posts like that on both DPS and ProBlogger. But we focus our attention mostly on evergreen content.
More Examples of Evergreen Content
Whenever I bring up evergreen content, some people say, “I just can’t do evergreen content on my blog”. These examples will give you a sense of the possibilities, and hopefully stimulate some ideas for you.
Once we’ve been through the examples, I’ll give you some tips on how to identify opportunities for evergreen content – even on blogs where it’s not obvious.
With these examples, I went through the top five posts on both ProBlogger and Digital Photograph School in terms of traffic.
Example #1: Ten Ways to Take Stunning Portraits (DPS)
This post is typical of a lot of posts we have on Digital Photography School. It’s fairly introductory and focuses on portrait photography – probably the biggest category of posts we have on the blog.
It’s a longish post at about 1,400 words. I find search engines tend to like content that’s more than 1,000 words long.
The post has a list format. It covers ten points, and for each point I only really touch on the idea. I don’t go into great depth. But each one links to further reading, so hopefully readers will take a look at some of those, which increases the chances of them subscribing to the blog.
This post worked really well because it was an introductory post to a major category on the blog. I’ve done the same thing with other categories: Landscape Photography, Macro Photography and Wedding Photography. These posts are all designed to be actional and practical, and to apply just as much ten years from now as they do today.
I also published a follow-up post to this one – Ten More Tips for Stunning Portrait Photography. This drove traffic back to the first post, and when people link to that post they tend to link to the first one too.
The last reason this one worked well is because it was written in an accessible style. People like lists. And this post has lots of images so it’s easily scannable.
Example #2: Rule of Thirds (DPS)
This post is a bit different from the first example. It’s only 600 words long, and so it’s at the shorter end of posts we wrote on Digital Photography School. Evergreen content doesn’t have to be long form.
It’s not a “how to” post, either. Instead it’s a “what is” post that provides definitions. Many people will have come across the rule of thirds, which is a rule of composition. So while this post touches on how to apply the rule, it’s mostly about defining what the rule is.
In most niches, definition posts are a great way to create evergreen content. We often use terms or phrases that someone new to the topic won’t understand.
Most readers coming to this post over the years have typed something like “what is the rule of thirds?” into Google. We come up number one or two, depending on where Google’s ranking that post on a given day.
We do this type of post on ProBlogger as well. One piece we get a lot of traffic to is What is a Blog? You might think that’s a silly post to write, but it’s amazing how many people type it into Google.
Example #3: How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent (DPS)
This post from Digital Photography School is about 1,100 words long. It’s a classic step-by-step post that teaches people how to do something, with lots of images along the way.
This one worked for a number of reasons. It’s a teaching post, and these step-by-step guides tend to work well. It’s also a post a lot of readers come back to. They might bookmark it to return to later.
It’s also the type of post that tends to get shared. Even now see people sharing this post on Twitter with friends. It seems to be a memorable post, and one that readers refer to again and again.
Example #4: Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples (DPS)
I wanted to include this post because it’s only 200 words long (though the images do extend the length in some ways). It’s built around 15 inspirational images that illustrate a particular photography technique.
Your evergreen content doesn’t have to be a teaching post. It could be a post made up mainly of images. If you choose the right images they can live on as something that inspires people for years to come.
You could also see this post as a bit of a case study that says, “Here’s what other people have done with this technique”.
Example #5: Posing Guide – 21 Sample Posts to Get You Started With Photographing Women (DPS)
This post is 900 words long, and again has lots of images – 21 of them. It was part of a series of evergreen content that worked well to build a large collection of linked posts. We had eight or nine posts in this series covering photographing women, men, couples, kids and different situations.
This is another example of words and images together. It’s not so much a teaching post, but more of a “how I did it” or case study post. We also found that people often saved this post on their tablets or phones and take it with them when photographing women so they could show people the particular poses.
Creating a post that people will read more than once increases the evergreen nature of it, and the number of page views it will get.
Example #6: Can You Really Make Money Blogging [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging] (ProBlogger)
This is one of the most read posts we’ve ever done on ProBlogger. It’s about 2,000 words, so it’s fairly long-form content. It’s an example of using a frequently asked question to create an evergreen piece. I saw a lot of people saying, “You can’t really make money blogging,” and so this was my answer to that.
It’s a list post, and the type of post I link back to from other posts on ProBlogger and mention on the podcast. Sending people to a post again and again increases the evergreen nature of it. Every time you get people to read one of your evergreen posts it increases the chances it will be shared or linked to, which helps your SEO.
It’s also a bit of a myth-busting post. A myth in your industry that won’t go away is an ideal topic for an evergreen post.
Example #7: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program (ProBlogger)
This is a truly mega post at 7,700 words long. Because it’s so long, people tend to bookmark it for later. They often save it to Facebook, which is a signal to Facebook that it ranks well. It’s been linked to from a lot of different blogs (including Amazon itself). And it’s a post I link back to from time to time.
A few of the techniques I mentioned in that post have dated slightly, and so I’ve updated it (something we’ll come to in a moment).
Example #8: How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause (ProBlogger)
This post was an introduction to a series of posts I published over several weeks. It links to all the ten posts in the series. As I released each one I updated the introduction post to include the link, so it acted as a central hub for the rest of the series.
The ten things I mentioned in that post are as relevant today as they were back in 2008 when I published it. Not only has that post itself grown steadily in terms of traffic, it’s driven ongoing traffic to the ten posts in the series as well.
I link to this post from the portals around Problogger as well, so I’m sending traffic to it from the navigation areas on the blog rather than just relying on Google.
Example #9: How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World (ProBlogger)
This sounds like a bit of an aspirational post, and it is. It’s actually a guest post Jon Morrow wrote. I really recommend you go back and read it because it’s a story, which is another type of evergreen content. If you’ve got a great story to tell, it could work really well as a piece of content for your blog.
This post doesn’t date. It inspires people as much today as it did in 2011 when we first published it on ProBlogger.
Example #10: Ten David Ogilvy Quotes That Could Revolutionize Your Blogging (ProBlogger)
This post was a bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t realise it was still one of the most read posts on ProBlogger. Written in 2011, it’s just a collection of my favourite quotes from David Ogilvy, who’s like the original Ad Man.
It’s 1,500 words, so I did add in some of my own content. I guess people are still searching for quotes from David Ogilvy, which is where the traffic is coming from.
These are just ten examples of pieces of evergreen content that I’ve published on my blogs. If you want to take a look at some examples from other niches, here are some that ProBlogger readers have shared:
What if it Seems Like Evergreen Content Won’t Work for You?
At this point you might be thinking, “Evergreen content doesn’t really work for my niche”. I want to address that a bit.
Evergreen content can take various forms. The examples I’ve shared include:
- “How to” posts that give readers instructions on how to accomplish something.
- Definition posts that define a key term or principle related to your topic.
- Inspirational content such as the image collections and Jon Morrow’s story.
- Advice posts that make a recommendation or tell readers what they should do.
- Swipe files or templates, which are posts designed to be used again and again.
There are also different mediums you can use. Evergreen content can be text, audio or video. You’re not limited to blog posts.
For example, many of my podcast episodes are as relevant today as when I recorded them. And my YouTube video on Secrets of Making Money Online (which I published at the end of 2010) is still getting views today.
Coming Up With Ideas for Evergreen Content
So how do you find evergreen content ideas for your blog? Here are a few things to consider:
#1: What Questions Do You Get Asked Today That You’ve Been Asked for Years?
Are there any questions related to your topic that just don’t go away? With ProBlogger, a couple of these are “Can you really make money blogging?” and “How do you make money blogging?” Some of the best posts on ProBlogger just answer those types of questions.
#2: What Key Challenges Do People Have?
What challenges, obstacles or problems do people have related to your topic? On Problogger, one of these challenges is productivity. Readers want to know how to fit it all in and get it all done.
#3: What Are Your Readers Searching For?
You can also look at what people are searching for when they’re on your site, and what they’re searching for elsewhere about your topic. Google Trends is a good tool for looking into this.
#4: What “Cornerstones” Do People Need to Know?
Back in 2007 I wrote a series of posts on Digital Photography School about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I consider these three concepts to be cornerstone pieces of content. If you want to take a well-exposed photograph, you need to learn these three things.
Are there cornerstone things you constantly refer to on your blog? You might never have written a whole post about them because they seem so basic. But they can make great evergreen content, which you can then link back to any time you mention those concepts.
#5: What Could You Create That People Will Keep Coming Back To?
Is there something you could create that people would keep coming back to again and again? A good example is Carla and Emma’s post Paleo Salted Choc Caramel Slice Recipe. It’s such an amazing slice (I’ve tasted it) that I bet people constantly come back to again and again.
Another way to create something people will keep returning to is to create a swipe file. Brian Clark wrote Ten Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work back in 2008 or 2009, and that post has become iconic. People constantly refer to it, and I constantly go back to it.
#6: What Key Stories Could You Use from Your Life or Your Industry?
What key stories have there been in your life or your industry that continue to have relevance today?
I think most of us have moments in our lives that have been turning points for us. Think about one of those key moments in your own life, and write a story about it for your blog.
What if Your Content Dates Quickly?
As I mentioned before, some blogs are all about “now” content. Perhaps they’re news blogs, a politics blog you run during election season, or a blog that’s all about new gadgets. That’s okay. But look out for opportunities to write some evergreen content as well to mix things up a little.
The mix of evergreen vs now content will vary from blog to blog. Over on Digital Photography School, around 90 to 95% of what we publish is evergreen. We could write a lot more about new cameras coming out and new techniques for certain styles of post-processing, and we do a few of those types of things. But we generally leave that to other blogs.
On ProBlogger we have a bit more “now” content because techniques do change. In the past we’ve covered some emerging trends such as Snapchat and Facebook Live. Those posts are still reasonably evergreen, but maybe not so evergreen as some of the posts we do on Digital Photography School.
Updating Your Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is really a spectrum. Some pieces of content you write might still apply a hundred years from now. Others might be relevant for six months or so.
Of course, you can always update your content to make it more evergreen. If you published a post a few years ago that has become dated, you can go back and make changes.
A good example of this is my Make Money Blogging post. It’s about 2,900 words long, and I wrote it back in 2007 or 2008. Over the years I’ve updated and changed it. (You can see when it was last updated at the top of the post.) Probably very little of that original post now remains. I still consider it to be an evergreen piece of content because it’s still the same topic and the same URL. And it continues to rank well in Google.
If you’ve got a post that’s doing well in Google, or one that gets a lot of traffic for another blog, make updating it a high priority.
Even on blogs that focus on now content such as MacRumors, it’s still possible to have evergreen content.
Most of the posts on MacRumors could become obsolete the next day if a rumor is disproved or a new product comes out.
But they do have some evergreen content, such as their buyer’s guide to all Apple products. It gives you the latest information on each product, and they constantly update it. But it’s still an evergreen page because it fulfils a continual need from their readers: “Which product should I buy, and when?”
Another example of a post like this is Lifehacker’s post The Essential Mac Apps for 2018. If you look at that post you’ll see some of the comments are from 2013. It’s been live for a long time, but it’s updated regularly.
On Digital Photography School we have similar posts that list our most popular Digital SLRs, our most popular lenses, and our most popular compact cameras. I update these posts three or four times a year to show the current trends in those particular things.
One final example is from my wife Vanessa’s blog, Style and Shenanigans. She wrote a post called Where to Shop in Bali after we took a holiday there. It’s ranked pretty well in Google, and she updates it each time we go back to Bali.
Getting Traffic to Your Evergreen Content
Once you’ve written an evergreen piece of content, think how you’ll get readers to it. You want to aim for a steady stream of traffic over time.
Some things that will help are to:
#1: Optimise your post for SEO. You can find some great tips on that in this podcast episode with Jim Stewart: What New (and Old) Bloggers Need to Know about SEO.
#2: Highlight the post on your blog. If it’s an important piece of content, you’ll want to link to it from key places like your navigation areas such as your menu or sidebar.
#3: Link to the post from older posts on your blog. Go back through your archives and see if there are other relevant pieces of content you could link to your new evergreen content from. A trickle of traffic from ten different posts adds up over time.
#4: Re-share that content on social media. One simple thing I do pretty much every day is to go back and look at what I published on this day during previous years. If those posts are still relevant, I’ll reshare them.
#5: Look for opportunities to link back to the post. As you write new pieces of content, look out for opportunities to link back to your evergreen content. This doesn’t just apply to posts for your own blog. If you’re guest posting on someone else’s blog, don’t just link to your front page in your bio. Link to a piece of evergreen content.
#6: Consider contacting influencers who might be interested. If there’s a social media influencer in your niche who might like and share that piece of content, send it their way. (For more on building relationships with influencers, check out How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche: Twelve Crucial Tips.)
What’s the Point of Your Evergreen Content?
Finally, if you’re going to get a stream of steady traffic to your evergreen content then you’ll want to make the most of it. You don’t want visitors to read the content and then bounce straight off your site again.
To leverage that piece of content, you could:
- Create an email opt-in encouraging people to sign up for your email list.
- Prompt people to read a second piece of content – some further reading.
- Encourage them to follow you on social media.
It’s all about making sure your evergreen content is as “sticky” as possible. (For more on that, listen to Episode 35 of the podcast: How to Turn Surfers into Blog Readers by Building a Sticky Blog.)
Evergreen content is one of the best investments you’ll ever make in terms of creating content for your blog. Of course, not every piece of content needs to be evergreen, and not every piece of evergreen content you create is going to work. But the more evergreen content you create over time the better.
Earlier in this post we took a look at ten pieces of content that have done really well for me on Digital Photography School and ProBlogger. Some of those pieces of content have had millions of views. But none of them have made up more than 1% or 2% of my overall traffic.
The reality is that most of the hundreds of millions of page views I’ve had over the years have come from all the little pieces of evergreen content.
Evergreen content isn’t just about big posts that might go viral. It’s about all those little posts that might attract an extra ten, twenty, thirty visitors to your blog each month. They all add up over time.
Every piece of content you create is an investment that continues to increase the amount of overall traffic to your blog.
This week, make it your goal to create some evergreen content and identify other topics you might want to write about that are evergreen in nature. Schedule it in over the coming weeks and months, and you’ll soon see the difference evergreen content can make.
Image credit: Austin D