The continuing saga of Evergreen Content. Last weekend, I walked into a big-box store and was a few aisles deep before I realized I was humming along to “Pocketful of Sunshine.” Huh, I thought. Wonder whatever happened to Natasha Bedingfield. Nine years ago, you couldn’t avoid that song. But when it finally did fall out of rotation, it wasn’t long—a week, maybe—before we forgot about it entirely. Topical content follows the same trajectory, only it’s usually even shorter than the lifespan of “Pocketful of Sunshine.”
Content is king. We live in a day when our appetites for it are gluttonous and growing. What type works best is a rabbit hole you likely already fell down and, on your long climb back to the surface, formed some solid opinions about. That you’re reading this means that you’re partially invested in the long-form variety, or at least seriously considering it, so I’ll skip through all that and address the two main kinds of long-form content marketing: topical and evergreen. The latter is described as such because it’s basically always relevant. The former, as I just hit upon, is not. But that doesn’t mean your campaign should be exclusively evergreen. There’s a time and place for both.
Evergreen content is rarely described as engrossing (present company excluded), but it does need to be compelling enough to be sought and read. It remains relevant by playing to core (read: relatively stable) interests, like crafting content, without getting too deep into statistics or trends that could date it. The primary goal is to use it to draw a consistent flow of traffic to your site over several months, or even more. The head count’s likely to be fairly modest, but, as the tortoise proved, slow and steady wins the race.
Approach evergreen content like you’re developing a context for your brand and, in turn, an archive for your site. Frequently-asked questions, advice on navigating your industry, backstory on how your brand came into being, these all make for solid evergreen subjects. The challenge is, aside from the part that’s particular to you, a lot of this stuff’s been written about before—a lot. Craft it so that it’s unique enough to not be buried in the search engine rankings. You accomplish that in two ways: the narrative and the keywords. Pass over the obvious base terms and opt instead for more pointed long-tail keywords. You’re shrinking your audience in doing so, but those who are left are more likely to find their way to your site and stay there. (Think big fish, small pond.)
What’s the value, then, in a topical post? Catching lightning in a bottle. If you see an opportunity to jump in on a viral subject in a meaningful way, seize it. Yes, the post is going to have a very short shelf-life. Like, very short. But, for the week or two that it is viable, you’re going to draw a whole bunch of new eyes to your site and your brand. Many of them will probably fall away once the hot topic recedes from the mainstream consciousness, but you still added way more followers than you would have during a typical week.
If evergreen content helps you carve out your niche, topical content shows your relevancy to the world at large. So this isn’t an either-or equation. Their contrasts are what make topical and evergreen content so beautifully complementary. If you’re blogging on a weekly basis, aim for a monthly topical post and reserve the remainder for evergreen subjects. Once your archive has a bit of depth, experiment with a couple topical posts a month every so often, but don’t make it a habit. Sexy as the topical post can be—the urgency, the attention—it’s evergreen posts that are doing all of the heavy lifting long after you’ve forgotten about them.
[Also view our video on Creating Evergreen Content]