“Just create evergreen content and the customers will keep on coming.”
That’s the mindset we tend to have as content marketers—that evergreen content is “set it and forget it.”
As long as you choose the right topic to begin with, the piece will not become stale or outdated.
As long as the topic is evergreen, it will bring traffic and conversions forever and ever.
It’s debatable as to whether that was ever true to begin with, but it sure isn’t the case in 2021.
Evergreen doesn’t mean immortal; it just means lower maintenance than timely content.
Evergreen Content Isn’t “Set It and Forget It”
Let’s look at the origin of the phrase evergreen content: the plant world from which it came.
(I’ve kept a houseplant alive since the beginning of the pandemic, so I think I’m a gardening expert.)
When a plant is an evergreen, it doesn’t mean it’s immortal and can never die.
It doesn’t mean that the plant never needs water or sunlight and doesn’t require any care at all.
All it means is that all of that plant’s basic needs are met, it will stay green year-round.
However, that’s if – and only if – its needs are met.
If an evergreen plant doesn’t receive the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients from its soil, it will still wilt and die.
The same is true of your evergreen content.
Only in the case of your content marketing, the basic needs in question are a little different from food, water, and fertilizer.
So what are the equivalent survival mechanisms for a content marketing garden?
Let’s work it out.
Evergreen Content’s Survival Needs
Keeping your content alive means ensuring all elements of the content marketing process are revisited regularly for your most important content.
There are a few different systems for doing that:
Regular Content Updates
First of all, the content itself, whether a blog post or web page, must be updated regularly.
Other media such as videos and podcasts are more difficult to handle but elements like the description can be changed, if necessary.
You want to make sure that your best content puts your best foot forward. Or as Derek Gleason put it in his article What I Learned Publishing 200+ Blog Posts on CXL,
“Your brand isn’t what you just published; it’s what people see most often.”
Update your evergreen content to reflect the most up-to-date information.
This is particularly important in a rapidly changing industry like ours.
Updates are also a great opportunity to improve a piece of content wherever it’s lacking. Our own Danny Goodwin says, “improve or remove.”
For example, adding an infographic or other visuals to every blog post takes a lot of resources.
But adding them into posts once they prove themselves valuable and evergreen can be easier on bootstrapped content teams.
Content updates are also a chance to remove any outdated statistics or technical information and, if possible, to replace them with more recent versions.
This is especially important for any information about your own product, as we’ll get to in our next point.
And finally, content updates ensure that any best practices recommended are actually best practice.
If your industry was particularly impacted by the pandemic, for example, what worked before may not be relevant now.
For example, a finance blog I follow recently circulated a post from before the pandemic on ways to make extra money.
Some of the featured tips are no longer even possible, given the current conditions in which we live and do business.
Hours (and many reader objections) later, the brand apologized for recommending such out of touch tips.
They’ve now updated it and rewritten parts that are no longer applicable, giving it an evergreen edge over competitors who simply set and forget their content.
Regular Journey Optimizations
In addition to content updates that help attract and engage traffic, make sure your content converts.
It’s not uncommon to see the conversion rate for any given piece of older, evergreen content slow down even if traffic is increasing.
Often, the company’s customer journey has changed but their content kept pace.
Or worse, the content was never aligned to the customer journey to begin with.
As your company’s offers and the way you position them evolve, stay on top of testing calls-to-action in and around your content.
As your target customer shifts, you’ll want to tweak the language because even if you’re talking about the same thing, it’s to a different person.
And if you discuss your product or its features in your content (which you should!), make sure all product information, visuals, and videos are current.
Content marketers tend to be wary of product mentions or promotions, but done sparingly it’s what makes your content convert.
For example, this blog post from Podia could easily have focused only on the strategy of pre-selling digital products and why creators should consider it.
But since their product includes a dedicated pre-selling feature, they also have a section on how to use it that’s just as useful as the strategy information.
These updates and optimizations are a chance to add calls-to-actions and product mentions where you’ve danced around them before.
Regularly Recurring Promotion
“Since it’s getting consistent traffic from SEO, I don’t need to promote it anywhere else.”
The final piece of survival for evergreen content is promotion beyond its organic visibility from SEO.
If that piece of content is getting consistent traffic from search, it has proven its value and potential.
That means you’re missing out on a massive opportunity not to keep promoting the content on other marketing channels, too.
Whether you’re repromoting the content by pushing it to the top of your blog archive, adding it to a social media automation tool to share it on a profile multiple times, or using it in automated email sequences, continue promoting the content wherever relevant.
Consider repurposing it for other channels and formats, too, once you know the content resonates with the right people.
Plus, repurposed content can still drive traffic back to the original.
If you already know that an old piece of content’s topic, title, and information works for your brand, why try to reinvent the wheel?
After all, less content is better when you’re doing things strategically.
Tend to Your Evergreen Content Garden
Hopefully, now you see that “set it and forget it” evergreen content never really existed and especially doesn’t right now.
How much of your site traffic and conversions are coming from content written for a version of the world that no longer exists?
In 2020, it might have made sense to hold off changing that content to reflect the current reality.
We weren’t sure how much or how long it would last.
And while we still don’t, there are a lot of things that we know will not be relevant anytime soon.
If your so-called evergreen content doesn’t reflect that, it’s only a matter of time before that nutrient deficiency kills your content garden.
Start tending to it!
- Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know
- How to Repurpose 1 Blog Post into 80+ Pieces of Content
- Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
Screenshot taken by author, February 2021