Playing the evergreen SEO long game
This week, we look at using evergreen content for SEO, and outline 6 ways to optimize your evergreen stories for a search audience.
Hello and welcome back.
This week, it’s Shelby discussing the relationship between evergreen content and SEO, and how to optimize your evergreen stories for a search audience.
In October, we gave a presentation about evergreen SEO based on the tips in this newsletter at NESS, News and Editorial SEO Summit.
As part of the discussion, we provided an evergreen SEO tracking sheet, where you can execute your own evergreen strategy based on your business decisions.
Thanks again to organizers Barry Adams and John Shehata for the invitation. Catch up on our top takeaways from the conference.
Sign up for our Slack community to talk about SEO for news at any time!
In this issue:
What is evergreen SEO?
What are evergreen topics and content types?
How do publishers optimize for evergreen?
What is evergreen content?
Evergreen content is a story, blog post or piece of journalism that does not have a news peg. Typically, it revolves around a topic or idea that does not run on a news cycle or seasonality, but can be used again and again and can be optimized for such. (Shoutout to the 🌲 evergreen tree 🌲 for giving this type of content its name. And shoutout to actual trees for being a climate solution.)
Pieces of evergreen content also have long shelf lives, so we want to ensure they are always optimized, even years later.
A piece of content is evergreen if it fills these three criteria:
It has consistent interest: the idea does not grow old after the trend dissipates – and tends to help people be smarter, live better or know something new.
It has consistent search volume: there may be times of the year that a piece does better, but overall, there will always be interest in the idea.
It can be updated without majorly changing the purpose of the piece.
Examples of evergreen content:
Guide to Living Your Best WFH Life (Morning Brew, March 2020)
What to do with a day off (NYT, Published again in 2020)
12 surprising job interview tips (Forbes, Published October 2014)
6 hangover snack recipes (Tasty, Published March, 2018)
7 ways to start investing for the cost of your morning latte (The Financial Diet, Published October 2017)
How to Actually Leave Work on Time (Lifehacker, Published March 2018)
What is ‘smoke point’ and does it matter when cooking with oil? (The Globe and Mail, 2015)
Why is evergreen content important?
Evergreen content is important for a number of reasons, including brand authority, relevance and, well, traffic. And traffic means engagement, which means loyalty, which means conversions. Which means money 💰.
Evergreen content is the content (or stories, I actually despise the word content, but that’s for another issue) that will continue to drive traffic to your site long after the news cycle moves on. When you see spikes in your page views or engagement metrics from certain news events (i.e., a federal election), you get really hopeful that those people will come back.
But then they don’t.
Evergreen content ensures that people will continuously return to your site. They directly serve the intent of a person’s search – they are easy wins we can take care of while we wait for authority and expertise to take over.
THE KNOW HOW
How to maximize evergreen content
Maximizing evergreen content is not hard, but can be time consuming. It can be as easy as taking time to refresh a story, or as long as collecting all of the stories and expanding out more ideas to build up the content bank around that idea.
6 evergreen SEO best practices:
Identify your evergreen pieces. These are the stories that:
Already drive a lot of search traffic to your site (consistently)
Have the 5W’s in the headline (who, what, when, where, why and how)
Are lists or stories structured in a way that the content can be consistently updated
Gives lifestyle advice, tips or tricks that does not change over time
Can always be used in packing content together
Take stock of all of your evergreen pieces. Make an Excel sheet of all of the stories you can consistently update, their URLs for easy access, and what keywords/phrases bring in traffic. This makes it simple for updating and grabbing whenever you have a topic cluster.
Create “topic clusters.” Clusters begin with a topic (called the pillar). Then, you identify pieces that associate with that topic but are more granular or narrow in focus. You can then use the pillar topic (which can have its own page) to all of your other pieces. These stories can then link to your pillar page (the main page) and become a cluster.
Use keyword research to find main-focus keywords. Use our strategies from our previous issue to look at what people are currently searching. Do your stories already serve those search intents, or can you create a new piece of evergreen content?
Update regularly. I don’t mean every day or week, but every 6 months to a year. Make sure the traffic is still coming in, that the keywords are still the appropriate focus, that the images still serve the intent and that you’re not missing anything. Google appreciates when old pages are updated – it is a signal of freshness and relevance (see: freshness as a ranking factor).
Recirculate. Search is a long game. You can do really well if you focus your efforts on search, but it takes time. But by updating evergreen content and sharing the piece again on social media, on your homepage or as a link from other stories, you can effectively help its authority and signal to search engines its importance to a person’s query.
✔️ Action item: Set aside time to take inventory of your evergreen content. Create an Excel document with 15 pieces that could drive traffic or conversions. Then, look at what’s missing. Can you add any stories? Should you look into new reporting? (🚨 You can track your inventory using our evergreen SEO template! 🚨)
The bottom line: Evergreen content is a quick, long-term win. Optimizing your existing stories will take time, but is an effective strategy for SEO.
FUN + GAMES
Shop until you drop. How many smartphone searches are made right before a store visit?
1 in 5
1 in 10
1 in 2
1 in 3
NEXT WEEK: What should we cover?
Have something else you want us to explore? Email email@example.com.
FUN + GAMES
The answer: 1 in 3!