Considering that many folks keep a decorated evergreen tree in their homes this time of year, perhaps there’s no better time to talk about “evergreen” content—including what it is and what the benefits are of creating it for your business or clients.
It’s hard to overstate how important long-form evergreen content is in terms of your search engine optimization (SEO).
In our view:
Long-form evergreen content is a fundamental part of any successful SEO content strategy.
Continue reading to find out why.
What is “evergreen” content?
By “evergreen,” I mean content (either in written or video form) that provides valuable and comprehensive information not just now, but well into the future and long past its publication date. Evergreen content provides a steady stream of sustained traffic, interest and “buzz” over a long period of time.
For instance, if you were to write a timely news blog post or press release covering some major event that recently happened in your industry or company, then this would NOT qualify as evergreen content since the relevancy and interest would likely peak immediately after it was published and then gradually decline as the news became stale.
On the other hand, if you were to write a detailed troubleshooting guide for one of your most popular products, this would be considered evergreen.
Blog posts, press releases and social media campaigns tend to be seasonal topics, whereas “how-to” guides, Knowledge Center articles, whitepapers, case studies and landing pages are typically considered evergreen content.
Of course, as we know all-too-well in the SEO industry, sometimes topics are subject to change, so it’s entirely possible that your “evergreen” topic could become outdated or inconsequential down the road (if, for instance, you stop offering that product or service). For this reason, just because your content is evergreen does not mean you can publish and forget it. Even evergreen content may need to be updated every once in a while to maintain relevance.
Here are some topic comparisons to further understand the difference between seasonal and evergreen content:
See the difference?
If you anticipate interest in the topic to wane anytime soon, then it’s probably not evergreen.
An exception worth mentioning is that sometimes it is possible to turn a seasonal topic into an evergreen piece by regularly updating outdated information and re-publishing it. For example, if you were to update an article like “2022 car accident statistics” or “top baby names in 2022” each year, then it can become evergreen content.
Pro tip: If you are planning to update content each year to keep it evergreen, consider leaving out the year in the page URL—that way, when you go to update the information you don’t have to create an entirely new URL. For instance, rather than naming the page /car-accident-statistics-2022, use /car-accident-statistics instead.
You can optimize the page for the year by adding it to the title tag, H1, subheaders and throughout the article, but keep it out of the URL. This will allow your updated page to generate backlinks over a longer period of time and gradually increase in strength. If you created a new page every year, each page would have to generate its own backlinks from scratch all over again.
What is “long-form” content?
So how long should long-form content be, exactly?
The answer to that question has been subject to much debate in the digital marketing community for many years.
In fact, way back in 2013, we published a blog post entitled “Long vs. Short Copy – A Classic Copywriter Dilemma” where we said:
It’s a common dilemma copywriters face, and a controversial topic to boot. Some say long is better, while others say short. As marketers and copywriters, we often fret over which is better for a landing page – a longer page, or a shorter one?
While so much has changed in the last 8 years, clearly much is the same when it comes to this classic content marketing controversy.
In many ways, what constitutes “long-form” content depends on who you talk to:
- HubSpot defines it as a piece of writing that is between 1,000-7,500 words.
- SEMRush and WordStream generally consider content to be long-form if it has more than 1,200 (sometimes 1,000) words.
- Backlinko analyzed over 11 million Google results and found that the average Google first page result contained 1,447 words, suggesting that number is what you should aim for in long-form content.
- Core dna wrote that long-form content is any piece longer than 4,000 words.
Several years ago, we would commonly crank out short blog posts around 300 words or less. The thinking back then, among many marketers, was that the more pieces of content you could produce, the better. With limited time and resources, seemingly the best option was to produce shorter content at a higher rate.
However, as search engines evolved to prioritize content quality over quantity, we shifted our strategy to focus more on in-depth, comprehensive content in upwards of 1,000 words or more—even if that meant publishing fewer posts overall.
For instance, back when we wrote that blog post in 2013 on the benefits of long vs. short copy, our average word count ranged anywhere from 400-700 words—and sometimes as low as 300 words. Now, our 3 most recent published blogs are all above 1,500 words, with one pushing close to 2,000 words.
That said, I think many marketers get too caught up on this question of word count. Sure, counting words can be a quick way to indicate what type of content you are reviewing, but it doesn’t ultimately reveal whether a piece of content is truly evergreen.
In my view, determining what qualifies as “long-form” evergreen content depends less on the word count and more on the substance of the content itself.
Sure, the length of your content matters to an extent and is worth monitoring. But what’s more important is how you can best serve your target audience and meet your goals. If you can provide an answer or information in less than 1,000 words, then do it. Longer articles don’t always mean better articles.
Long-form evergreen content provides readers with comprehensive education and in-depth understanding about a particular topic from various angles, not just surface-level information.
The 5 SEO advantages of long-form evergreen content
The counterargument sometimes used to undermine the idea that long-form evergreen content is beneficial is the statistic that the average internet user only spends roughly 45 seconds on each page before clicking away. Some folks see this number as proof that short, snappy and visually stimulating content is a wiser investment in order to capture users’ attention.
Plus, creating long-form content can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, requiring a significant investment that might turn off executives and marketing managers working within a shoestring budget.
However, this statistic (and others like it) can be misleading for several reasons.
For starters, it doesn’t factor in the fact that the average time users spend on a page varies significantly depending on the type of website and industry. People tend to spend much more time on cooking recipe pages than news stories, for instance. Likewise, consumers looking for legal services will probably do far more research than if they were looking for the nearest pizza delivery place.
Secondly, this average includes folks who clicked on a page and quickly “bounced” once they realized it didn’t have the information they were looking for.
Research actually shows that users prefer to find all the information they are looking for on one comprehensive long-form page rather than having to go to several different pages and sites to collect what they need.
While there are benefits to producing many different types of content, including news blogs and press releases, the sustaining results achieved from high-quality evergreen content can be massively beneficial for the long-term health and performance of your site—starting with these 5 SEO advantages:
First, evergreen content tends to generate more backlinks from third-party sites than other types of content. Particularly if your long-form content contains original research, data and findings—and ranks well for a certain keyword (or set of search terms)—then it has a much higher chance of being referenced and cited by bloggers, journalists and other writers when they cover a related topic.
These backlinks provide value in 2 important ways:
- Your brand gets free publicity and your reputation improves, and
- Your organic search rankings improve since Google sees that other reputable sites are linking to your page, boosting your authoritativeness.
Second, evergreen content is often keyword-rich. In a well-written long-form article, you’ll (hopefully) use not only your target primary keyword or keyphrase, but semantic terms and related phrases as well to avoid repetition and keep the reader engaged. Doing so will help your content rank for more search terms and improve the page’s overall ranking score.
Even if you are targeting a specific keyword, it’s important to include semantic terms in your content since people may use slightly different search terms to look for the same thing. Google and other search engines recognize this searcher behavior, so they prioritize content that incorporates a selection of related keywords and keyphrases.
Third, it’s easier for search engine bots to “crawl” and understand what evergreen content is about than many other types of content, particularly visual content such as images, videos, infographics and charts. I certainly don’t mean to discourage the use of visual components since these elements can be highly effective in keeping your readers engaged and making your page stand out; however, it’s simply a reality that search engines have a harder time identifying what visual components represent.
By making effective use of descriptive subheaders and meta-tags, you can optimize your evergreen content even more to get your page ranking in organic search faster and better. The concept we’re talking about here is “crawlability,” and evergreen content tends to perform quite well on this front.
Fourth, evergreen content is ripe for repurposing. What I mean by that is long-form evergreen content can pull double-duty by not only attracting an audience on its own merit, but also generating smaller “spin-off” blog topics (or a blog series), videos, as well as graphics for social media.
These bite-sized pieces of content should link back to your original evergreen article to allow readers to dive deeper into the topic, should they choose to. This strategy helps promote your evergreen content and is a great way to stretch your marketing dollar further since you can generate multiple types of content out of 1 evergreen article or page.
Lastly, long-form evergreen content helps keep visitors on your site for longer, which increases your site’s overall average time on site since it takes people more time to read your article. A higher average time on site can have positive effects on your organic rankings since this is one engagement factor that search engines use to determine how helpful content is at answering the searcher’s query.
If Google sees that people are staying on your site longer, they may decide that your content provides a good answer and choose to rank your page higher in the SERPs to serve more folks who search the same term.
How to generate evergreen topic ideas for your business
Since evergreen content keeps bringing people to your site over a long period of time, it has one of the best returns on investment (ROI) in terms of content marketing. So if you are ready to get started creating evergreen content, consider the following tips:
- Consider your target audience’s wants and needs
- Hone in on your target keywords
- Ensure your chosen topic is “evergreen”
- Analyze which topics offer the best opportunities for backlinks
- Research what already exists on the topic
- Write an outline to plan the content structure
- Optimize for SEO and design best practices
At SEO Advantage, we can help you come up with fruitful evergreen topic ideas through deep keyword research and competitor analysis, and then plan and execute the delivery of evergreen content that will yield results for your business for years to come. We’ll also optimize meta-tags and manage an effective content promotion strategy to ensure that your evergreen content gets those valuable backlinks needed to perform well in organic search rankings.
Is long-form evergreen content a key piece of your SEO content strategy?
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