In Search of the Pot o’ Gold: Evergreen Links – Tutorial Tuesday
There’s a rather distinct irony in choosing to writing a post detailing ‘timeless’ link opportunities and centering it around one single day of the year. St. Patrick’s Day might be topical this afternoon, but it’s old news for the next 364 days. Since ‘defiance’ is another typically Irish trait, I’m ignoring this clear-cut discrepancy.
Shamrocks might be a rather disposable form of foliage, but the “wearing o’ the green” has flourished in the last century. From patriotic rebellion to widespread holiday fad, donning emerald hues on March 17th has proven to be a societal mainstay. How can we mimic this digitally?
I avoid many trendy buzzwords in the typical marketing vernacular, but I’ve always been fond of the phrase “evergreen content”. For me, it conjures up images of blue spruce and Ponderosa pine, yucca plants and palm trees. On the internet, it generally refers to anything that retains its relevance over the course of time.
Creating appealing content that never goes stale is the biggest battle in the larger war of staying relevant amidst the veritable flood of digital offerings. Taking a step back from the SEO and promotional angles for a moment, the absolute best link one can build offers something of value to the human audience and, ideally, is located in a trustworthy ‘neighborhood’.
Let’s take a look at how both of those factors translate into “pot o’ gold” opportunities…
Step One: Creating (or Curating) Evergreen Content
First, take an inventory of your offerings. Mull over what you have and how you can actually use it. If you’re the actual content creator, you have much more wiggle room. However, if you’re simply trying to build links to existing content, you’ll need to single out something that’s worthy of being featured for the long haul on highly authoritative domains. Such as:
- An FAQ or glossary.
Because inquiring minds want to know. Answering legitimate queries from readers or customers is always advantageous. Are people constantly wondering about your industry or service? Fantastic – be the source they’re looking for.
- Tips, tricks, and other advice.
Just please...don’t call them “hacks”.
- Scholarships or ongoing contests.
When you’re doling out money to college students, or bestowing coveted prizes on your audience, the value you’re providing should go undisputed. Sure, it might have underlying promotional and brand-building value, too. Multiple birds, singular stone: you’ve heard the old axiom.
- Anything updated often or annually.
Chronological timelines or continual round-ups that can be be revised frequently are ways to take an idea and maximize it over time.
- Case studies.
Assuming you’re not studying “The color of cars that drove by my house between July and November of 2011”. Keep in mind, anything related to numbers and statistics has a shorter shelf life.
- Great photos, illustrations or videos.
Excellent pictures can transcend time. That photograph of a WWII sailor jubilantly dipping a gal back for a kiss in Times Square is still circulating to this day. Videos are a little more likely to visually date themselves, but don’t let that stop you from joining the motion picture party.
- Chronicling the history of…whatever.
Personally, I’m a huge sucker for posts like this. The more detailed and obscure, the better. This type of resource is particularly useful when the scope of your topic goes back further than the inception of the World Wide Web. A post on the ‘history of snap-button Western shirts’ might get more clicks than the ‘history of Snapchat’...but I’m probably wrong about that.
No, I’m serious. People evidently still want to know which Game of Thrones character they are. From a ‘super-scientific’ series of four questions. Or whatever.
What if your preferred subject matter has already been comprehensively covered, time and time again? Be more specific. Narrow it down. Zone in on one aspect and aim for being the end-all authority on that particular angle.
Every piece of content has a definite lifespan, even those we label as perennial classics. Whether your goal is to inform or to entertain – regardless of chosen topic – keep in mind that your audience can vary between timeworn experts and absolute beginners. Speak to both.
Step Two: Seek Out Evergreen Websites
The functioning internet, as we know it, is barely old enough to order a green beer at the bar. To be fair, I’m not talking NASA networks of the 1960’s or any of that into account. So when we speak of an ‘evergreen website’ it must be taken with a grain of salt. Determining a website’s credibility should require more common sense, and slightly less search engine metrics (DA/PA/PR/etc).
That being said, certain domains and websites are inherently more reliable and authoritative than others. These are the types of places you want to get cozy with.
- College and university resources.
If you have a resource that provides scholastic value, whether it’s a comprehensive list of various engineering degree programs or a $5000 scholarship for veterinary students, housing it on higher education site is good for everyone involved.
- Municipal, state or federal websites.
Cities, counties, states and yes, even the whole damn country all have websites loaded with helpful resources. If you have content that genuinely belongs amongst their listings, you can hardly find a more reliable locale.
- Storied or long-standing publishing platforms.
Is it opinion to say that the New York Times website is more respected than BuzzFeed? Not exactly. To be fair, deciding who to reach out to -- say, the Wall Street Journal or Cracked -- should be determined by the type of business you’re running and the type of content you’re offering.
- Instructional ‘how-to’ sites.
Regardless of your industry, training materials or tutorials are in constant demand. Whether you sell cosmetics or HVAC equipment, there is an audience and that audience wants benefit from your expertise. For example, look at the skyrocketing popularity of sites such as Instructables or Udemy.
- Research or reference sites.
People love to disparage Wikipedia, but it is still the go-to for many a curious query. There are a number of comparable websites for those exploring scholarly questions, so if your content belongs there...get it there.
Step Three: Tying it All Together
I’m not one to scoff at timely, topical or trendy content. Not only is it useful and entertaining, it can also be extremely beneficial to your company. Occasionally, some news bit will spur a new flood of traffic to your resources and site. However, the goal of “evergreen links” is promoting your business with solid content on solid, proven websites. This is genuine exposure for the message or brand, not some slick, backhanded marketing ploy.
Unfortunately, you don’t locate pots of gold by following rainbows or fictional little people wearing green britches and derby hats. Discovering ‘golden opportunities’ requires much digging and excavation. Luck has very little to do with it.
If you have high hopes that simply ‘creating content’ will translate into boatloads of traffic and conversions, well, you can twist your rosary and pray to the Patron Saint of Effortless Backlinks all night. But it won’t do you a lick of good. You have to get out there and make sure people know. Get that resource in front of the right sets of eyeballs.
Switching gears to another holiday: churned-out, recycled spam content is equivalent to a crappy plastic Christmas tree that you shove haphazardly into a box at season’s end. High-quality, relevant, interesting content should be more akin to a mountainside of resplendent, old-growth Douglas fir.
Because which of the two would you rather look at? That’s what I thought.
Oh, and one more thing: