[Updated] How to identify evergreen content
What is evergreen content?
It's almost an SEO cliché to say that businesses need to be producing fresh, timely and relevant content and, whilst this remains true, evergreen content can function as an important aspect of your content marketing strategy alongside your regular blogging practices.
Evergreen content - like its arboreal namesake - is content that remains relevant and useful all year round, rather sparking attention immediately after being published and then that traffic trailing off. Evergreen content should continue to attract traffic for months and even years after it has been published on the website.
Unlike yearly reports, news or reaction pieces, or sales or offer announcements, evergreen content is not time bound.
Examples of evergreen content
Common formats of evergreen content include:
- ‘How to’ guides or tutorials
- List articles or ‘listicles’
- Glossary of industry terms
- Testimonials and case studies
- Videos can also form part of your evergreen content strategy.
Why is evergreen blog content important?
Evergreen content is impactful because it:
- Drives prospects further through the buyers’ journey
- Offers a continuous source of traffic
- Contributes to brand awareness and brand authority
- Improves website’s search coverage
How to create evergreen blog content
Creating evergreen content from fresh should be approached similarly to that of any search informed copy. Take a look at our best SEO practices blog for more on how to create traffic driving content.
There’s far more to content than just setting it live and hoping it draws leads to your business. It needs to be monitored over time, analysed and reported on. Lessons need to be learnt from what is working and what isn’t, so you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
If you’re looking to identify potential evergreen content from your existing content, then read on!
How to identify evergreen content from your existing blogs
You most likely already have some content on your website that is evergreen. With resources stretched, sometimes creating new copy isn’t possible so we’ve put together this helpful guide to finding opportunities for long-term content from your existing on page copy.
We spoke to HubSpot’s Partner Acquisition Marketing Manager, David Murray, who gave us some of his best tips for making the most of your content over time, identifying evergreen content to continue promoting. Whilst much of the following is with regards to HubSpot content specifically, the identification of high performing content is applicable to other content management systems.
Step 1: Compare 'apples to apples'
To understand if your current content is working as effectively as it could be, David recommends making sure you’re comparing the same content types – blog posts vs blog posts and landing pages vs landing pages. If you start mixing up every piece of content inside your HubSpot portal, you’re going to get highly inaccurate and ineffective data thrown up:
“If you’re looking for impactful, evergreen content, make sure you’re focused on the same kinds of assets. It sounds obvious, but blog posts won’t have any conversions because they don’t usually have forms on them; there will be text and image CTAs that drive you to a landing page, so you can’t measure blog posts directly for conversions. Whereas landing pages will all have forms on them, so you can compare like with like in terms of submissions on those pages.”
If you start looking for patterns between, for example, your landing pages – and even break it down further into landing pages for ebooks, checklists, and templates, or for different campaign topics – you’re going to get far more useful information. You can then begin to understand which types of content are demonstrating long-term relevance to your audience.
These insights are powerful, helping you not only decide which topics and formats to use when creating future content, but when deciding the kind of forms and lead conversion opportunities to put on your pages. If one type is outperforming another, it’s a sign you need to use more of that in your content. If traffic is consistently landing on a non-converting page, what do you need to do to start turning these into leads? Or is it the case that the targeting is incorrect: how much of this traffic is actually relevant? Evergreen content is only an effective tactic if you are increasing and maintaining commercially relevant visits.
Step 2: Export your data
The first step in understanding your content’s performance is to export the data, for example into Google Sheets where it can be analysed easily.
In HubSpot, you can do this by going to Reports > Analytics Tools > Traffic Analytics > Pages > and then tweaking your Date range, Frequency and Page types, according to what you want to review:
You can now see all of your information in one place where you can hide and expand columns, reorder content according to date, filter based on performance, identify benchmark metrics and so on.. David recommends using conditional formatting for visual aid:
“Conditional formatting helps me see what’s going on. You can rank all content from largest to smallest in terms of submission rate, so you get a very clear, granular picture of the submission rate across all your landing pages – it might be thousands of pages – but you get a very apparent, quick view of how they’re each performing.”
You can use filtering to look at comparisons such as:
- The oldest content vs the newest content on your site
- The most vs least views
- The most vs least submissions
- The oldest vs newest contacts
- Recently updated pages vs those which haven’t been updated for a while.
By exporting the data to a collaboration-enabled spreadsheet, you’ll have it in a simple format that is easy to share with your team and line managers. It means you’ll all be working from one master copy and can easily update and use it to inform future campaigns. Evergreen content is subject to the same duplicate content requirements as any other copy, so being able to monitor who is producing and publishing what is important.
Step 3: Narrow down to worthwhile content metrics
David points out that to find your potential evergreen blogs, you can’t just blindly review everything: set yourself a threshold by which to focus on the highest performing content:
“Think of a threshold under which the numbers are too small for you to make a decision about – for example, set your page views from largest to smallest and ignore anything under 1000 views. Views is a good metric to focus on rather than submissions, as submissions is a higher indicator of engagement so typically has a lower volume.”
You’ll need to set up some columns with calculated fields to help you work out, for example, submissions divided by views will give you a percentage which is your submission rate.
Bare in mind too that search volumes will impact the performance of different pages. One of your landing pages may have a small volume of consistent traffic but its target search terms are also low - this is especially likely for longtail content. Highly targeted, bottom of the funnel content is valuable content, even if the traffic is comparatively low. This is why comparing like-for-like is sensible.
Step 4: Compare high views to high submissions
When reviewing content to find your potential evergreen pieces, there is a sweet spot: the high views to high submissions pieces. These are the "holy grail" of content, the performance we’d like every piece of content to meet in an ideal world.
If content is receiving high views as well as high submissions, it means the content isn’t just attracting a lot of attention in the first place (through email marketing, PPC, social marketing, organic search etc.) but once people consume it, they actually want to know more and give you their details, moving through the buyer’s journey:
Focus on views and submissions to work out where in this matrix your content falls, and fix the problem accordingly. In particular, David recommends keeping an eye on your new contact rate vs submissions. You can do this in your Google sheet by separating your existing contacts and new ones, then taking a closer look at conversion rates on different types of content. Once you do this, David explains it’s time to act:
“If you do come across a piece of content which is getting really high submissions or views, especially if it’s on a broad topic, that’s an indication that you need to be creating more content around that subject. You’ve clearly really understood your persona, their challenges and what they’re looking for.”
Depending on where your content falls in this grid, you'll want to take different action:
High Views/Low Submissions
Optimise your page for submissions – either you don't have a form on this page, or your form isn't performing well enough. Ask yourself:
- Does your form have too many fields to fill in, making it uninviting?
- Are the questions you're asking too probing for this stage in the buyer's journey?
- Have you made it crystal clear what the user will get when they fill out the form?
- Is it clear when and how they'll receive the content, once they submit their details?
Low Views/Low Submissions
Either you're using the incorrect format, or incorrect content topic. Whatever it is, people just aren't interested in your content from the start. Ask yourself:
- Is this a topic which has performed well before?
- If so, what did you change about the layout this time which might not be grabbing people?
- If it's a new topic, is it relevant to your buyer persona's pain points?
- Is this a format which has done well before? If so, did you change anything?
High Submissions/Low Views
The problem with this content is that not enough people are seeing it – when they do, they love it – but unless more traffic is driven to these pages, it won't be profitable. Ask yourself:
- Which sources usually drive the most traffic to your pages and are you using this channel every time?
- Did you make this content part of a bigger campaign and promote it accordingly?
- Have you used an email marketing campaign to drive traffic to this page?
- Are you only relying on organic searches to find it, or are you helping it in other ways such as social, PPC and link building?
High Views/High Submissions (Evergreen)
These are your potential evergreen posts!
The ideal content that gains both high views and high submissions, shouldn't just be celebrated and forgotten about. Ask yourself:
- How did you promote this piece and which sources provided the most traffic?
- Which topic did you focus on and what further content could you create in this area?
- What format did the content take and could other content you create use the same layout?
- Could you re-purpose this content into other forms and downloadable resources?
Step 5: Look at publish date and compare with update date
Again, conditional formatting (date published vs date updated) can aid this. As a landing page best practice, David advises you revisit and update them regularly (guided by data from the page).
“Apply conditional formatting to the publish date. If it’s before a year ago, colour code it red, and if it’s anything in the last 12 months, colour it green – there’s no point updating those. It very quickly allows you to see just how many landing pages are old and need revisiting. If they’re old but still have a high submission rate, you’ll want to re-promote them and get a new audience seeing them, as the content is clearly still valuable to visitors.”
Step 6: Review and update regularly
Update your content as appropriate - just because the content is evergreen doesn't mean it's immune to becoming out of date.
Ensure any screenshots, references, internal and external links etc. are correct and up to date in your copy. If there are new developments that are relevant, add them. Ensuring your evergreen remains so means regularly reviewing and updating it as well as making vital tweaks when needed.
After each review, make sure you report and present the data back to your team so they can plan which actions to take as a result of the findings. Organise your data from the start through conditional formatting, into all the different categories that will be helpful to your business. Once you’ve done that, you can start to think about what your benchmarks for key performance indicators are.
This is a chance for you to update some of the bigger content offers you have, and optimise them, by reviewing the copy or conversion points. If they’re still doing well, how and when can you promote them? Plan ahead for the next 3-6 months to see where you can fit them into your promotional calendar and make sure this content keeps working for your business – it's far more effective to do this than to keep churning out new content for the sake of it.