Evergreen contentIf you want to be taken seriously as a publisher, you’ve got to go long-form on your content from time to time.

All the big publishers are happy to write an extended piece when the opportunity arises. Not only does long-form content often offer an illuminating insight into the subject in question, it tends to generate the most comments, or engagement.

In demonstrating that you are adept at writing detailed articles, you are also showing your audience that you are an expert in your industry who knows your stuff. Generally speaking, with respect comes trust – and with trust, loyalty. You can see where we’re going with this…

Let’s look at a few other reasons why evergreen content is a must:

1. Google promotes it

It can be a pain having to switch from tab to tab in order to get comprehensive knowledge of a certain topic – it’s so much nicer when the research is all in one place.

Google recognised this, introducing its “In-depth article” feature, allowing users to bring up more comprehensive web pages about their chosen subject.

Rather fortuitously for us marketers, Google has taken the time to detail how we can optimise our content for the “In-depth articles” feature – a gift that shouldn’t be passed up.

2. Readers will appreciate it

In this day and age, when content is flying out from all angles, readers have adopted a ‘quality over quantity’ mindset for reading online articles. That won’t be good news if your only concern is to ensure you’re writing four articles a day, with little thought given as to how interesting and useful the content is.

If, however, you’re willing to spend a little more time over a piece – find an alternative angle, bring in some relevant statistics, make the piece an effortless read, address your customers’ pain points – that more selective reading style could play into your hands.

3. It gives you a platform to offer quality advice

Not all advice can be delivered in a few lines. Imagine if you’d gone to somebody for guidance, only for them to toss your question aside in the space of a few seconds – it doesn’t exactly suggest they give too much of a damn, does it. Even if the advice is fairly poignant, people like to be given the time of day.

At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it as quality will inevitably be impacted if you start repeating yourself.

So that you’re not just answering one person’s question about your product/brand, find a way of identifying the most frequently asked questions. Maybe your customer services email inbox is a good place to start?

Five great evergreen content ideas

1. Origin story

Wikipedia defines an origin story (in comic book terminology) as “an account or back-story revealing how a character or team gained their superpowers”, so you could say we’ve twisted its meaning a little, but you get the idea.

Everybody loves to look behind the curtain, and while your company might not be hiding anything too exciting, readers won’t be able to resist taking a peak – as long as your brand’s journey is well written with an injection of personality.

Not only will it play up to people’s innate sense of intrigue, the content will not age — meaning it can sit proudly on your website for however long you see fit.

2. Biggest mistake

It might sound somewhat counterproductive to admit your biggest mistake, but it’s something everyone can relate to and prompts a sharing of experiences.

Now, we’re not talking a mistake which happened yesterday which might portray your operation in a bad light, but a poignant occurrence that shows your brand is human, like everyone else.

3. Greatest achievement

You’ve got to be careful not to come across as self-satisfied here, but if told with self-awareness, documenting your greatest achievement can be a very strong card to play indeed.

If a physical award represents your greatest achievement, speak of the journey you took to get there, rather than the award ceremony itself. For evergreen content place an emphasis on the experience rather than the event – that’s what people want to read about.

4. ‘How-to’ posts

The web is filled with how-to posts, but don’t let that put you off. The key here is to identify areas of advice that have yet to be covered – or if that’s not possible, ensure your guidance is better and more thorough than anything that’s gone before it.

People stopped calling their parents or a friend for everyday advice a long time ago – with the internet now the go-to place for those in need. Capitalise on this change in human behaviour.

5. Listicles

Not everybody is a fan of the listicle, as we documented a few months back. However, we’re of the opinion that the format can prove very powerful indeed – if it’s used correctly.

Don’t be shoving listicles down your readers’ throats every week – leave that to Buzzfeed. Instead, create them sparingly when the content leads you to do so. Of course, you can make the excuse that everything can be made into a listicle, even a news story (“10 takeaway points from…”), but your customers will likely see you as a one-trick pony.

In summary

Evergreen content is something all brands should be producing. Even if you’re a more modest-sized business, long-form content will prove good value for money as it will remain active for years after it is written.

However, evergreen content shouldn’t just be viewed as something you’re obliged to create, as that will show in the words themselves which will be of no benefit to anyone.

Spend a bit of time thinking about how you’re going to structure your piece; if you’re struggling to decide how it will be different from the content that’s already out there, go and seek out colleagues from other departments. Everybody sees your business in their own unique way, which is great for generating original ideas.

Although it might appear that there are only so many evergreen formats, you can bend them whichever way you like – the more novel the better. Not only will your readers appreciate the originality, Google will too.

What pieces of evergreen content have captured your imagination recently?

Ben Hollom

September 7, 2015