Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of content in this world. First, there’s your topical content. Topical content (which is definitely not to be confused with tropical content) deals with topics that are – you guessed it – topical. Big news stories, Facebook fads, whatever’s trending on Twitter…topical content rides on the coattails of these hip, happening stories and capitalises on their social reach, using them to spread a message to a wider audience. It’s a bit like hanging around with the popular kids in school to try and improve your own social standing.
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And while carrying a lot of topical content will make your brand seem edgy, relevant, and on-the-ball, it’s also true that topical content, by its very nature, loses relevance pretty quickly. And if you get too bogged down in the present by carrying only topical content, you can, paradoxically, run the risk of never seeming relevant at all. That’s why you also need to stock up on content that will stand the test of time, content that will stay relevant and searchable for countless aeons (or a couple of years, at least) to come. Which brings us rather neatly to topical content’s older, wiser, more mature sibling: evergreen content.
Green with awesome
Why ‘evergreen’? Well, just as an evergreen tree retains its foliage throughout the seasons, evergreen content remains relevant in the long term (and it sounds a lot better than ‘hardy perennial content’). It achieves this by dealing with subjects that are timeless, rather than current affairs or viral trends. Topical content may be great for immediate shares and engagement, but evergreen content plays the organic search long game.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s like a shrewd investment that keeps on ticking over, providing steady returns year after year. In content marketing terms, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
The long game: Evergreen content is a marathon not a sprint, as illustrated by this marathon here (Image credit: By Martineric from Lille, France (Marathon de New York : Verrazano Bridge) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Let’s look at an example. Have you ever been stumped by a household problem and ended up resorting to Google for help? Say, for unblocking a sink – or worse, a toilet? You’re not alone. That’s why this blog post from Dyno-Rod makes a superb example of evergreen content. Like all great evergreen content…
- It’s timeless – As long as there are toilets, there will always be people around to…uh…block them. And these days, what’s the first thing most of us do when a household object malfunctions? We google it. Search for ‘how to unblock a toilet’, and our Dyno-Rod example is the fourth organic result. Just think of the scores of people who will have seen that article since it was first published back in 2012, and how many more will see it in years to come.
- It’s universal – Everybody – with the possible exception of the Queen – uses the toilet. And the sad fact is that, sooner or later, everybody will be faced with a blocked one.
- It’s well-targeted – Everybody loves cake. Especially the Queen. But let’s say Dyno-Rod decide to carry a cake recipe on their site. Sure, it might generate a lot of traffic – recipes are another great example of evergreen content, after all – but people who google ‘Victoria sponge recipe’ are unlikely to be interested in plumbing services. That’s why you should always make sure that your content – evergreen or otherwise – is at least tangentially related to your products and services.
- It’s valuable – How-to guides like this are intrinsically valuable because they offer readers a solution to a problem. High-value content is what makes readers engage, share, and keep on coming back for more. And what makes this piece so valuable is the fact that it’s authoritative, imparting insider knowledge that your average Joe probably won’t have. Blocked toilets are Dyno-Rod’s specialist subject – what’s yours?
- It remembers the bottom line – Dyno-Rod aren’t giving away these tricks of the trade out of the goodness of their hearts. Notice that right at the end of the piece, there’s a call to action with a hyperlink to a page advertising Dyno-Rod’s products and services, and below that there’s a big old phone number and another link to an online booking form. Remember: content always has a job to do. This is content marketing, after all.
Pretty clever, eh? By following these simple guidelines, you can create lean, mean, evergreen content that will stand the test of time, generating leads, increasing brand awareness, and driving traffic to your site until the cows come home. Which, as we all know, is a very long time indeed. Oh, and for what it’s worth, a carrier bag tied around the head of a mop makes the most effective toilet plunger known to man.