We consider them the pillars of the site, the columns on which the stability of organic traffic and the conversions of our project rests: but, as it happens also in the building from which we borrowed these terms, need regular restructuring to avoid collapses that can cause serious consequences to the whole site. The evergreen contents are not timeless nor unmodifiable, so let’s see together what are the maintenance operations that we have to perform to refresh them and not make them become old and obsolete.

Understanding the expression “evergreen”

In short, it is important to get out of the myth of “evergreen immutable content“, which remains valid and brings traffic over time (forever) without the need for retouching: while being certainly durable and stable, these articles still need a periodic review, even if less than what you need for news-like content or hype topics.

On the other hand, even in the botany from which you take the expression evergreen it happens the same: the evergreen plants are not immortal and need water, sunlight and care. Only by satisfying these basic needs of the plant can we hope that they will remain green throughout the year, because otherwise – without the right amount of sunlight, water and nutrients from its soil – even an evergreen is likely to wither and die.

Returning to content marketing, our evergreen content obviously does not need fertilizer and sunlight, but a series of maintenance interventions and “survival mechanisms” that can ensure their effective durability over time.

How to take care of evergreen contents and make them survive for a long time

Keeping the content we have published alive means “ensuring that all elements of the content marketing process are reviewed regularly for our most important content,” explains Brittany Berger on Search Engine Journal, who outlines some main ways of achieving exactly this.

Regularly updating the content

The first advice is quite “obvious”, in the sense that it should be a routine modus operandi for anyone who operates on the web (although then, at the end of the day, is one of the most underrated SEO tactics): whether it’s a blog post or a web page, after publication the content should always be checked, studied and reviewed to maintain it effective.

Refreshing evergreen content is the way to make sure that the article always offers the most up-to-date information, a decisive element in competitive and dynamic sectors where evolutions are frequent (and Google notices, changing the rankings to reflect the current relevance to the query).

Also because, Berger recalls by quoting Derek Gleason, “your brand is not what you just published, but what people see most often”.

Why to update evergreen contents

There are many operations to refresh an article-like content, and it is also possible to intervene on media that are generally more difficult to manage, such as videos and podcasts, for example by modifying their description when necessary.

Moreover, working on updates is a useful opportunity to assess the quality of the content that we have published and eventually decide whether to improve an article or whether it should be removed permanently, also in order to improve the crawl budget.

For instance, the author argues, “adding an infographic or other visual elements to each blog post requires many resources, but adding them in posts that have proven to be valuable and evergreen can be a good strategy”.

L'importanza di curare i contenuti evergreen

Periodic content review is also an opportunity to remove outdated statistics or technical information and, if possible, to replace them with newer versions; elements that are crucial in both publishing and e-publishingCommerce, for example in product information.

Similarly, updating an article ensures – we, readers and Google – that the information provided is still valid; for example, that “recommended best practices are still effectively best practices”, especially if the business sector “was particularly affected by the pandemic, and what worked before may not be relevant now”.

A recent case cited in the SEJ article concerns a finance blog, which re-shared a pre-pandemic post on “ways to earn extra money”: some of the suggestions presented are no longer possible, given current living and business conditions, and many readers have criticized the choice, forcing the brand to apologize for having advised such techniques “out of time”. In addition, the article has been updated and the parts no longer applicable have been rewritten, effectively making that content new evergreen, with an advantage over those of competitors who have not updated their guides.

A periodic journey optimization

In addition to content updates that help attract and engage traffic, we also need to work so that content can actually convert.

It is not uncommon to see the conversion rate slow down for a certain older and evergreen article, even though traffic is increasing: it may be because the company’s customer journey has changed, but the content has not been adjusted, or even worse that they have never been aligned to the user’s path.

With the evolution of the company’s offers and the way we position them, it is important to keep valid also the call to action with tests “inside and around the contents”; if the target of customers changes, it is also advisable to change the way to communicate since “even if you’re talking about the same thing, you’re doing it to a different person”.

For e-commerce, it is also crucial that the product sheets always report updated information on the characteristics of the products, both in the text and in the images and videos accompanying.

Thanks to periodic (and continuous) updates and optimizations we have the opportunity to identify new opportunities to add call to action and mentions to products where appropriate, finding a new channel to invite users to actions and convert.

To regularly and recurringly promote content

Another misconception is that, if traffic is constant, content does not need other promotion systems: a valid way to increase the survival of evergreen articles is indeed the promotion on different channels to those of organic visibility.

If that content receives substantial research traffic, it has demonstrated its value and potential: not sharing it on other marketing channels means giving up a huge opportunity. Instead, it is appropriate to give new visibility to the article, bringing it back from the blog archive, pushing it several times on social media or inserting it in newsmail, always in a relevant way.

In some cases, it may be useful to modify the original content to re-propose it in other channels and formats and to intercept another type of user, still continuing to bring traffic to the original: “If you already know that the topic, title and information of an old content work for your brand, why try to reinvent the wheel?” highlights the author.

Keep on tending your evergreen garden

Now more than ever – after our certainties have been undermined by the pandemic and our own worldview has changed – it is impossible to think of writing a content that is forever valid and continues to bring results in terms of traffic and conversions.

To try to keep our evergreen garden alive, and thus keep our evergreen content healthy, it is essential to continue to tend, monitor and intervene to change them when the information present no longer reflect the current reality, are outdated or have become out of focus with respect to the target.

This is the only way to try to ensure that these pillars continue to be relevant to both users and Google for as long as possible; otherwise, it is only a matter of time before the “nutrient shortage” will dry up our content garden.

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