Online marketer and SEO expert Jason Acidre explains why producing evergreen content should be the foundation of your content marketing efforts, and offers detailed tips for creating, optimizing, and distributing it effectively.
Content marketing is a marketing practice that has been recently embraced by a lot of online marketers, especially people in the SEO industry.
Although the principle has existed for decades, continual changes in the online marketing landscape have substantiated the immense weight content marketing can contribute to today’s businesses. Given that it allows small to large brands to be more competitive in their respective industries, this channel enables companies to empower both sales and marketing efforts.
Now that you have a brief background of what content marketing is, let’s head on to the one approach in content marketing that can grow your business in so many ways — pushing out evergreen content on a massive scale. Why? Because this methodology for content strategy can touch several aspects of online marketing (particularly the important ones) in one go, such as:
- Scalable link acquisition
- Achieving high search rankings for industry terms
- Continuous social sharing of content
- Constant traffic generation from different sources (referring sites, social, and search)
- Helping the site’s online conversions in terms of lead and revenue generation
- Uncovering more opportunities for the site (links, relationships, coverage, partnerships, etc.)
- Supporting and giving more visibility to the other important pages of the site
- Growing subscribers, social followers, and brand advocates as the content consistently draws traffic to itself
- Brand strengthening
We’ll go into more detail on how to optimize content for each listed aspects below. But before everything else, I just want to share that this post was heavily inspired by Nick Eubanks’ case study of my blog (which will be out soon).
Creating Evergreen Content that will Create Impact for Your Business
Evergreen content, as the term defines itself, is a piece of content that never relies on current trends and is simply an informational or reference material that somehow never goes out of date (as explained by WiseGeek).
Content marketers commonly use this type of content with the intention to drive consistent web traffic for a long period of time, since this type of content discusses generally searched information (such as guides and historical information).
So how do you create it? Here are few tips on creating robust evergreen content that will influence your overall online marketing campaign:
- Build content based on keywords that a specific segment of your target audience/customers generally seek for (ex. “learn SEO” or “advanced SEO tips”). Use Google’s Keyword Tool to identify topics that are being constantly searched and appeal to your market.
- Make your content as in-depth as it can be. Look at how the content is presented on Wikipedia. Their pages are cited as a reference mainly because of the extensiveness of their content.
- Use visualizations, like rich images, to generate more interest from your readers/viewers.
- Explore other content formats in presenting content, such as videos, slide presentations, and/or data visualizations.
- Aim to have the best content about that certain subject in your industry’s online sphere. Research your competitors’ similar content. This principle will help you create better copy and will also be its unique selling point in continuously attracting traffic and activity.
Scalable Link Acquisition
Getting voluntary and editorial links to a piece of evergreen content is almost always certain to happen. It will likely continuously acquire natural links to itself over time, as long as people can find it and as long as the content provides useful/relevant information by the time they see it.
Making your evergreen content very comprehensive is very important, because that’s the element that will entice people, especially content creators in your field, to use it as a reference (whether on blog posts, forum threads, or other community discussions).
For instance, the link growth for an evergreen post I published last March 16, 2011 about Ecommerce SEO strategies has been increasing for the past 17 months.
That post also received a link from SEOmoz recently (May 2012, 14 months after it was published). One reason why the amount of new links acquired on that month increased is because of the sites that have scraped the linking content from SEOmoz.
How to optimize your content for linking:
- Make sure that your content will be found by people who are specifically searching for it. This will involve optimizing the page/content for several possible search terms that are used when researching for information (both short and long-tail keywords).
- Build internal contextual links to the content to improve its visibility through search rankings and referred page visits. A useful piece of advice for this method is to use longer strings of anchor texts, as they are more receptive to readers and can also allow the destination content to target multiple keywords that they can rank for.
- Build incoming links to the content from other websites through outreach or content distribution (contextually linking to them through your guest blogs). This will increase the chances of getting more traffic to the page, which can also encourage more people in your industry to reference the content.
Basically, the key to making your content a scalable link-building machine is to build channels that will consistently send traffic to it, whether from search, social, or links. The more new visitors the page can get over time, the better the chances of getting people who might find and use the content as a resource for their work.
Better Search Rankings for Industry Keywords
Solid content that’s meant to last a lifetime (or close to it) has higher potential of getting good SERP rankings, as it has most of the factors that search engines tend to look for in terms of quality of information/content, page activity, user engagement, and ability to continuously attract natural links.
Having good rankings for your content can stretch possibilities for your business’ marketing and sales efforts, ensuring highly targeted traffic to the page that may lead to further actions (sharing, linking, subscribing, and even purchasing).
As soon as your content is capable of generating search-traffic, the likelihood of getting natural links, continuous social shares, followers, and potential customers will be higher.
How to get higher search rankings for your evergreen content:
- Optimize content for search, especially in making the content absolutely relevant to the keywords it’s aiming to rank for.
- Build more exposure and authority to the content through both internal linking and content-based link building.
- Utilize social media marketing techniques to send out more positive signals from the content and make the content more visible on personalized search results.
Continuous Social Sharing
One of the most awesome things that you can get from your evergreen content is its ability to create a recurring cycle of social sharing.
In social media, even if your content is already months or years old, it can still work for you as long as the content has proven to offer value to its audience.
For example, the “SEO for ecommerce” post I’ve shared earlier is still generating social shares even though its publication date was a year and half ago.
These instances can be tremendously helpful in keeping your content alive, as it can generate traffic, possible linkers, subscribers/followers, and leads to the site.
Being able to get social shares to already existing content can also generate sudden traffic spikes, depending on the authority/influence of the sharer.
How to optimize your content for social sharing
- Make the social buttons serve as the secondary call-to-action of the content by making them very visible to your visitors. Place it above the fold and right after the content.
- Use awesome titles for your posts that aren’t limited by trends (extensive tips, guides, and lists are usually effective in this type of content). Check out Dan Shure’s guide on writing effective titles.
- Implement the “unexpected hook” element when creating content, where you try to exceed the readers’ expectations for the content. This will increase the likelihood of the content of being shared on social networks.
- Build more channels to draw new traffic from (sites/pages linking to them or keywords they are ranking for). The more new visitors the page can get, the more social shares it can eventually generate.
Evergreen Content Generates Constant Traffic
A special feature of strong evergreen content is its capability to consistently draw traffic from different sources, particularly from the first three areas I’ve mentioned above: natural links, search rankings, and social shares.
Using this approach for your content strategy is like building a marketing army that will promote your brand on autopilot, because it will continuously bring traffic to your site that may:
- Link to your content
- Share your content
- Subscribe to your feed/newsletter
- Follow you on social networks
Just imagine the power this method can lend to your site if you have tens or hundreds of pieces of this kind of high-performing content hosted in your domain.
How to drive constant traffic to your evergreen content:
- Improve its search rankings by optimizing the content for its targeted keyword(s), building internal links to it, and acquiring links that will generate traffic (editorial, contextual, and links from relevant discussions from pages/threads that are also getting constant traffic).
- Update content if necessary to make sure that new visitors will be satisfied with the content they’ll be landing on. This will increase the chances of the established content of being shared.
- Share your old content on social networks once in a while to notify your new followers who might have missed the content.
Grow Conversions (lead and revenue generation)
Given that your content will be continuously driving traffic to itself, getting potential customers/clients will not be impossible, since the content strongly exemplifies your expertise in your field.
Just like what I mentioned on my guest post on Kikolani, I got my past and current clients mostly because of my blog posts, not through rankings. And this can certainly work for any size of businesses.
Evergreen content usually acts as a middle-of-the-funnel element that can stimulate the buyer’s decision process.
For instance, the ecommerce post I’ve mentioned as a sample above has generated several client inquiries through my blog’s SEO consulting services page and contact page over the months it’s been live (approximately 14 potential clients out of 443 highly-engaged readers – a 3.16% conversion rate).
How to optimize content for conversions:
- Improve the page’s loading speed. You can use tools like Page Speed Online or Pingdom to see how the page is performing in terms of speed and the areas you’ll need to optimize to enhance load time.
- Include strong CTAs right after the content to attract leads. Look at how Hubspot attracts specifically targeted leads at the end of every blog post:
- Internally link to other useful or high-converting pages of your site to improve visitor as well as brand retention, and to move them further down through your conversion funnel.
- Identify the content’s keywords that are sending converted visitors through Google Analytics. Optimize the content for those keywords for posts to generate more traffic that have high chances of converting.
Grow Subscriptions and Social Following
Bringing continual traffic to evergreen content can also successively increase and grow your subscribers (feed or newsletter) and social followers. You can make these aspects part of or goals of your conversion optimization by simply adding them to your content’s calls-to-action (placing them on parts of the page where readers can easily see them).
Support and Lend Visibility to Other Important Pages (through internal linking)
Your evergreen content will continually improve its page authority, due to various activities that will occur within the content over time. It will eventually be a strong asset that you can utilize to support your other important pages (useful content, transactional pages, etc.) through internal linking.
These internal links can funnel your content’s new visitors though to your other important pages, and most importantly, the internal links can also pass link value to the internally linked pages, which can help them improve their search rankings as well.
Scale Link Opportunity Discovery and Relationship Building via Social Shares
Once your content is already well-established (constantly receives traffic and new social shares), you can start tracking those who have shared your content, as it can lead you to finding more opportunities and easier-to-acquire links.
Monitoring these can also help you build relationships and alliances in your community, which can benefit your brand and future content marketing efforts (through social outreach).
How to do Social Reverse Engineering:
For Twitter, you can use Topsy. Monitor and make a list of those who have recently shared your old content, especially those who run or have websites/blogs.
You can also use Google Search in finding people who have shared your content on Facebook.
Identify the audience members who own websites (from the search results) and start engaging them.
Initiate conversations by simply thanking them for sharing your old post/content. Building a good rapport will help you get easier – but higher value – link acquisitions and higher response rates once you start pitching for guest blogs and/or link requests.
Online Brand Strengthening
Serving high value content that’s meant to attract traffic over a long period of time – and being consistent with production – can definitely be a solid approach to creating advocates/loyalists/evangelists for your brand.
Another factor that helps in shaping a unique identity for your brand as a thought-leader, aside from the expertly-done content you provide, reliess on the industry keywords that your site is ranking for and your brand’s search share in its specific niche.
For instance, I’ve been kind of popular in the link building scene, and have been mentioned on several blog posts that mainly discuss link building:
- 79 Link Building Resources – 2011 Edition
- 79 Link Building Resources – 2012 Edition
- The Best Link Building Blogs, Experts and their Tutorials
- Top 10 Link Building Blogs for 2012
- 17 Experts Weigh in on How to do Quality Link Building in Volume
- 30 Link Building Experts you need to Follow on Twitter
Why? Because I’ve created dozens of remarkable posts about it.
A lot of people also know me as an SEO strategist because I’ve been ranking for this keyword for over a year now:
Creating evergreen content that appeals to a large audience, which people can also easily find (through search engines), can instantly build perceptions about you as a brand.
If you’re in the SEO industry and you know who Jon Cooper is, then I’m sure the words “link building strategies” are already playing around your head.
That’s how evergreen content can strengthen and expand your brand presence as well as the perceived value that people see in your business.
Making this content approach the foundation of your online marketing strategy will help scale and even automate your business’ marketing and sales efforts.
And the best thing about this approach is that even if your evergreen content fails to attract massive traffic/links on its initial launch, it can still survive and eventually attract people to share/link/consume it — because it’s evergreen.