Many people have heard of Porsche, but only the die-hard enthusiasts reflect on the history of its most famous product, the 911. The nameplate has been redesigned 5 times in its storied history – a new one was introduced for 2012. But each time a redesign was announced, car enthusiasts understood what kind of vehicle to anticipate – a sports car with a rear-mounted 6 cylinder engine in a rounded rear body, 2+2 seating, and headlamps pronounced above the hood and fenders.
Now what does an automobile have to do with blogs? Well, a 911 is an example of an evolutionary updates that retain favorite aspects and gain enhancement with new ones. You can take the same approach with evergreen content, articles that consistently attract traffic for your site.
First, what is the benefit, besides drawing traffic?
Evergreen posts can give an indicator for new content, by implying what topics can be repeated. Using the Porsche example, you may have a popular evergreen post on driving a Porsche 911; A potential follow-up post could be on a driving comparison of the 911 against other Porsche models, like a Boxster, or an older model, like a 924 (We’ll skip the 914 to avoid hurt feelings of the Porsche sport car club arguments in the 1970s). The choice can give an opportunity to build content that can keep you audience browsing on your site a bit longer.
An evergreen post can also provide an ease in brainstorming new post ideas, refreshing the mind by allowing a focus on topics that require few thinking steps to extend. If your post is a year old, for example, find an aspect of the topic that has been updated. I did a post on Microsoft’s first store, then did a follow up when Microsoft announced its plans a year later. These kinds of updates can save you time behind the laptop because some of the structure is already there.
Even posts from bloggers or sharing from readers can also give new branches from an evergreen topic. This is particularly useful for topics such as sports, politics, entertainment, and neighborhood events.
Here are a few ideas for creating and managing evergreen content:
Use analytics tools to first identity evergreen content
To determine an evergreen content, look at the content report in your web analytics solution and examine the average time on site and visits. You should have an idea of when posts were made. Many blog URLs can be set to include the date.
When you look at the content report, you can then see a post and its date, then sort by time on site or exit rate. An ordered comparison can be done, but for examining a sort based on multiple dimensions you would have to export into a spreadsheet.
Use site search to determine topics that visitors may be looking for
Sometimes search results from the site search reports can give ideas on what people are generally looking for and not finding (If you are not sure, this is an activated feature on many analytics tools such as Google Analytics – A quick refresher will be posted soon). Those ideas can influence your evergreen topic due to their degree of relativity to the topic. For example, let’s say you find results that indicate that visitors are looking for Porsche repairs. Your blog may be on Porsche history, so post on repair history may be a good topic to build upon past historical views and develop an intro into repair topics that may be closer to what people are looking for. The best approach is to use your experience on the topic when reviewing site search
To date or not to date?
Consider what naming the date in the title can do — Dates can, er, “date” the material, but I have seen blogs receive traffic for a post written more than a few years ago. Try to keep dates naturally in the post, rather than in the title.
Retweet evergreen posts with updates
In addition to making a new post, you can update the evergreen post with additional material or a few comments regarding what is new. Consider also sharing evergreen posts in a your email distribution as well
Consider a video version of your evergreen topics
A video version of your evergreen content can give a different spin on the topic and can be another augment.
Consider giveaways of related plans and how-tos
Giveaways become great evergreen topics that continue to attract traffic. White paper downloads can be giveaways, as are how-to charts or informative graphs.
Consider contrarian views
A friend of mine sent me a post about a filter bubble online – how the scope of internet information can become narrow due to a dependency of an algorithm matching search usage, and was sent as help to a post I was writing on the spread of information. Most evergreen posts are usually about a utilitarian topics, but some reasonable debate can infuse life into even the most pedestrian of topics. An article on planning holiday marketing can be a debate about whether holiday catalogs are really useful, for example.