Content is not a one size fits all approach, and I promise, not everything on the web has to be upwards of 1,000 words. Your website’s copy should take many different forms and serve many different purposes that are as diverse as the needs as your target users. When it comes to building out informational content, there are two big categories it tends to fall into: evergreen content and fresh content or what I feel the need to deem ‘deciduous content’. As evergreen’s opposite, it seems only fair to round out the tree analogy for this content type that is more seasonal or timely.
What is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content takes after its namesake. It’s hearty, robust copy that stands the test of time, remaining relevant all year round and ideally year after year.
Types of evergreen content
Evergreen content takes many forms in terms of web copy. I’ve found it to be predominantly within “Resources” style sections of websites. Here are just a few types:
- Troubleshooting Advice
- Quick Tips
Where should evergreen content be located?
Evergreen content is often robust and valuable, therefore, it should be located high up within the site’s information architecture. As opposed to a blog post, with evergreen content the business itself is considered to be the author, and evergreen content gives a site a great opportunity to build up its authority as a thought leader in its market. Evergreen content should, therefore, be easily accessible and located directly within two levels of the homepage via the:
- Main navigation
- Eyebrow or utility navigation
Evergreen content should notably live outside of a site’s blog. The main reason for this is because blogs have timestamps and date published datapoints. Search engines expect it. Just ask Schema.org’s BlogPosting markup:
With an inherent datapoint like datePublished expected by search engines, what chance does a blog post have at staying evergreen?
The very nature of blogging also makes it difficult for a blog post to stay evergreen. Over time, new posts will push your evergreen post down in the blog’s content feed, off of the front page of the blog and out of everyone’s sight.
Benefits of Evergreen Content
- Doesn’t require constant updating or revisions
- Remains relevant over time
- Highly valuable for SEO
SEO & Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is great for SEO. In addition to ideally being able to stand on its own as a piece of valuable, in-depth content that makes the web a better place, because evergreen content stands the test of time, it gets better with age. The main reason for this is because of links. As a great piece of content’s URL gets externally linked to month after month and year after year, it becomes more authoritative and has a higher value in the eyes of search engines which not only helps build up the page itself but the website as a whole. Win-win.
What is Deciduous Content?
Deciduous, seasonal, or time-sensitive content looks great right now, but might not be fully relevant in the next month, six months, or year. That’s okay! It can serve its many other SEO and user-focused purposes, if only for a fleeting moment.
To dive a little deeper into the tree analogy, why I particularly like to think of this content as ‘deciduous’ is that while deciduous trees lose their leaves for part of the year, they come back, as good as new, and revived. That’s how I like to think of deciduous content – that it can be revitalized, reused, repurposed, and timely once again.
How does greening up deciduous content work?
It’s okay to update old blog posts and make them more relevant to today’s information. You can tell the user by adding in a disclaimer like, “Hey awesome user, this content was updated such and such a date in order to make it more valuable and up-to-date for you! High-five!” It’s a lovely win-win situation. Search engines think it’s neat that you kept the site fresh, the information is even better for users, and you get to keep that well-established URL live.
Types of deciduous content
You might actually see some overlap between deciduous and evergreen content, however, here are some common types:
- Blog posts
- News articles
- Press releases
Where should deciduous content be located?
I like to put deciduous content is a place that is easily updated by anyone on your team that is willing and able to write content. Similar to evergreen content, it should be just a couple steps from the homepage and located in a frequently updated and hopefully crawled area like the following:
- News and events
Benefits of deciduous content
- Keeps the site producing fresh content
- Easier to produce than evergreen content
- Great for SEO
SEO & Deciduous Content
Freshness is the key here when we’re talking about deciduous content and its benefits for SEO. For example, there’s ample value for a website in participating in a conversation in its industry as it’s happening in order to show it’s in touch with what’s going on and on the cutting edge.
The other side of the coin for freshness is for search engines. If they keep coming back to a stagnant site that never has any new content, then they’re going to revisit less and less frequently under the assumption that there’s nothing new to crawl and index. If deciduous content is constantly being added daily or weekly, then that gives them the incentive to keep coming back to the site and know that the site is being tended to and therefore of higher quality.
How to Decide Between Evergreen and Deciduous Content
The first step is to do a little basic SEO research by searching for the topic you want to write about and ask the following questions:
- How is Google interpreting the topic?
- Is Google showing guides, evergreen content, or news articles?
- How old are the average pages showing up for this term?
- What type is showing up better?
- Are there any rich snippets or answer box results for the topic?
- Will this information change in six months, a year, two years?
- How can I make the internet a better place by putting the information I have out there?
The second step is to find a way to write with both types of content for the same topic because if I had to choose between one or the other, I’d incorrigibly want to choose both. No, it’s not because I love creating extra work for myself, but rather, there’s room enough for both to live in harmony on a website, each serving a different purpose, providing value, and not getting their roots tangled.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I wanted to gain some topical authority for my website about the local flora and fauna of Austin, TX. Now as a part of that, I did some research and through my daily excursions discovered that Austin once had a Tree of the Year that was voted on by the general public. Alas, the contest appears to have fallen off into the black hole of the web but opportunistically I’d like to gain that remaining search volume of the curious TOTY plaque award readers for my own. Here’s what my basic dual content strategy would be:
- Deciduous Content:
- Create a blog post for the Austin Tree of the Year Award Winners for the last 10 years with maps of where to find them and outlining their types and commonalities.
- Evergreen Content:
- Create an in-depth guide of Austin’s native tree population, highlighting all kinds of botanist-loving information, even local allergen information, to ensure that I’m capturing valuable searched-for topics.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest through the trees on our own websites [cringe]. We’re a bit too in the weeds, but in order to create a well-rounded web experience for our users and for search engines, building up our topical authority takes all types of content. Thankfully both evergreen and deciduous content work great together as well as individually to meet the diverse needs of the web.