What Is Evergreen Content?

In the context of SEO, “evergreen” refers to an asset with value that will not diminish quickly, or a strategy that is effective over time, not just in the near term. 

What Does “Evergreen” Mean in the Context of SEO?

In terms of online content, “evergreen” refers to any content that has long-lasting relevance, or which retains its value and appeal over a long period of time. Something that is evergreen may be seen as the opposite of something that is truly news — evergreen content is not designed to go viral or trend on social media; evergreen content covers topics of perennial interest in a way that remains as useful and accurate as the day it was published, even months and years later. 

As it concerns SEO, “evergreen” means any SEO asset that will not quickly diminish in value over time, for instance by targeting keywords that people no longer search for, or providing an asset that quickly loses its ability to earn links. 

Ultimately, showing up on Google’s SERP once doesn’t guarantee you will stay there, or even that you’ll show up there ever again. Earning a lot of links with an asset doesn’t prove that your site as a whole deserves to be seen as a trustworthy authority. Search is constantly evolving, and an evergreen content strategy is one that helps keep you relevant and ranking over time.

Characteristics of Evergreen Content

There are several elements that can influence how evergreen a piece of content will be, and that you can review to determine whether your content has a longer or shorter shelf life, including:

  • Timely language: Make sure the language you use doesn’t date the piece. For example, when referring to an event, do not use phrases like “last year,” or even “recently.” It is better to use concrete dates and times that will still be appropriate as time passes. Likewise, always writing in the past tense can extend the lifespan of content, compared to writing in a more present tense or even future tense, depending on the subject. Predictions and forecasts are only relevant until they are proven accurate or otherwise, but the past isn’t quite as subject to change, though attitudes and perspectives may change.
  • Ongoing or cyclical relevance: The topic of the content should be applicable and interesting to the target audience for a long time or should be expected to gain renewed interest on a regular basis. In the former case, an example of evergreen content would be an article detailing how to knit. Although variations of the hobby may emerge, the basic methods will not change. In the latter case, an example of evergreen content would be how to prepare your home for winter weather. Although it would not be constantly relevant, it would become relevant every year during late fall and early winter.
  • Long-term optimization strategy: Content should utilize sustainable optimization strategies that are unlikely to change over time in order to be evergreen, or work to satisfy evergreen queries. For example, although many specific ranking factors may change over time, it is unlikely that the primary goal of the Google algorithm will shift away from catering to the needs and interests of readers. Therefore, writing content that is highly concerned with user experience is a very sustainable optimization strategy. It is also worthwhile to note that it is valuable to maintain optimization strategies at large, even in short- and mid-term capacities, as they function to continually drive traffic to the domain.
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Examples of Evergreen Content

Some hypothetical examples of evergreen content include:

  • How to Write a Resume;
  • 10 Ways to Reduce Stress;
  • What You Need to Know About Learning Disorders;
  • How Does the Stock Market Work?;
  • How to Child-Proof Your Home;
  • A Guide to Sustainable Energy;
  • Why You Should Vote Early.

While it is conceivable that some of these topics could eventually lose relevance, they are unlikely to in the foreseeable future, and therefore would still be considered evergreen.

What Is the Value of Evergreen Content?

Content is a valuable asset, and therefore it is important that it can retain its value for as long as possible. This is especially important in the context of SEO because the value of an SEO asset can compound over time. Authority signals for a domain can accrue over time, and internal links can share authority signals between pages. Therefore, if one asset promoting authority loses its value, the authority of the rest of the website may suffer.  

By contrast, while trending content can garner a lot of traffic quickly, it is often unsustainable. However, it is possible for content to cover something that is trendy, while also remaining evergreen, and that is often ideal.

Should All Content Be Evergreen?

Not necessarily; depending on your niche and the needs of your audience, you may have to provide some pages that are more topical, or which have an expiration date on their relevance. If a trend or news item is of particular relevance to your brand, or you know it is important to your audience, it may be expected of you to weigh in or provide clarity. In such a scenario, it certainly may be useful to choose a topic that is highly trending, even if its value is ephemeral. 

For example, a clothing company that wants to boost traffic for a seasonal collection may benefit from content about breaking news or something happening in popular culture, if it is in some way topically relevant to the clothing line. However, existing evergreen content on the website could also certainly boost the efficacy of such short-term efforts. 

The same clothing company may notice that there is consistent search volume around queries like “[celebrity name] fashion,” [celebrity name] style” and other similar terms that will vary depending upon the times and the trends. Though optimizing for a specific celebrity’s style based on current searches would likely prove to be a short-term strategy, optimizing for the intent behind the searches (celebrity fashion) could prove to be more evergreen. Further, the company could elect to publish content on fashion icons (Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O., etc.) that could help capture some of the intent behind these queries. 

How to Make Content More Evergreen

It is often absolutely possible to adjust existing content so that it is more evergreen. In fact, it is a good idea to regularly update your content in general. The following steps should be taken when updating old content:

  • Update dates;
  • Update outdated information;
  • Update your links;
  • Avoid outdated optimization strategies when possible, and/or deliberately select topics that may need to be updated at regular intervals (with a firm plan to maintain the integrity of the pieces);
  • Ensure that the content reflects any changes to branding conventions that have occurred since publication;
  • Take the opportunity to do further copy-editing. 

Additionally, some topics that inherently have a limited time frame for relevance must be updated regularly to retain their value. Some examples of such content would include articles about minimum wage, top ten box office hits, and information about elections.

What Are Evergreen Links?

Content isn’t the only component of SEO that can be optimized to consider long-term value. As another valuable asset in an SEO campaign, marketers should also ideally utilize evergreen link building techniques. While many blackhat SEO strategies such as PBNs can sometimes offer fast results, those results are usually not sustainable, because they are building poor quality links. Said links are often from a limited number of disreputable websites that have little relevance to the target domain’s content. Additionally, a sudden, steep incline in backlinks may appear suspicious to the Google algorithm, if the site doesn’t show an ability to continue earning links, even at a modest pace, after one massive influx. 

Characteristics of Evergreen Links

In order to be evergreen, backlinks should demonstrate the following qualities:

  • They should be from reputable domains. It is important to note that this does not necessarily refer to domain authority (DA). This more broadly refers to websites that are suspicious or of poor quality, such as websites that are very new, have little content, and/or contain an unusual amount of links to other websites. 
  • They should be relevant to the target page or domain’s content. Relevance is actually even more valuable than the website’s authority. For example, if you are writing about alternative energy sources, and you can earn a backlink from a small news website’s article about increasing investment in wind turbines, this would be more valuable than an article from the New York Times about artificial intelligence. 
  • They should be from multiple sources. When a domain earns backlinks from multiple websites, it more strongly demonstrates the domain’s reputation as a valuable resource than if it is only earning links from a handful of websites. Furthermore, backlinks from a limited number of websites may indicate the use of spammy, blackhat SEO tactics. Therefore, multiple backlinks from the same sources have diminishing returns.
  • They should be built over time. Again, a sudden incline in backlinks does not speak to earned, organic link building. Nor is such steep growth sustainable. Your target domain will benefit far more from the gradual, consistent development of a strong backlink profile.