Track 02: In Bloom – or, Evergreen Content in a Forest of Right Now
This is the second post in my blog series “A DIY Guide to Messaging, Brought to You by Gen X and Grunge.” The first post is Track 1: Smells Like Teen Spirit – or, How to Reignite Messaging That Matters.
The first thing that struck me about Seattle when I arrived in the late 90s was the endless blanket of evergreen trees.
No matter what corner of the city I inhabited – the International District, Lower Queen Anne, or finally, around the corner from the Cha Cha Lounge in Capitol Hill – there they were. Those looming wooden pillars with their lush green needles, heavy with dampness and age.
I’d think about how they bore silent witness to the decades of our lives, so fraught and ephemeral in comparison to theirs. How they were there long before me and would still be standing long after I’m gone.
They’ve come to mind again, in our time of COVID-19 and breaking-news overwhelm. How we’re expected to pump out timely, relevant content at any cost – maybe before we’ve even fully processed how we feel about the subject at hand.
Evergreen content is the way out of this vicious cycle. Those cornerstone reference guides, tutorials, and “history of” pieces keep you anchored and relevant.
When we prioritize creating this kind of content that always matters instead of chasing news and updates, we actually become more influential and – like those unwavering, massive trees – enduring.
Bruises on the fruit, tender age in bloom
You know how you wake up, read the news, and just want to go back to sleep?
Yeah. That shouldn’t be a thing. We’re living a very troubling, unnatural existence. We’ve engineered a world where the natural cycle of seasonality is dead.
From the year-round produce we demand at the supermarket to the stream of info we choke down, there’s no time or space anymore to appreciate the natural cycle of life – the tender beauty of “bloom, die, regenerate.”
I’m part of the problem. I admit that I crumple in disappointment when I can’t find a ripe tomato at the store in the dead of winter. We’re spoiled, and we’ve come to expect these things as “natural.”
Like our food, our breaking-news norm has also become “normal.” It’s completely changed how businesses feel compelled to create and approach content. Whatever hot-button issue’s trending, we better have something damn good to say about it, NOW. Be timely. Be relevant. Be heard. Or else.
We want the thrill, the ripeness, juiciness to be there all the time. And we pay dearly for this unnatural life cycle.
When we demand in-season produce year-round, we make food conglomerates richer instead of our local farmers. We increase pollution. Our pathetic knowledge of the seasons deepens our disconnect to nature.
Content is no different. When we give into the sense of urgency, it pushes us into reactionary/survival mode. Suddenly, getting noticed in that sea of competing voices starts to matter more than the meaningful work we’re actually doing every single day and why.
It’s dangerous. Even the words we use to describe the 24/7 in-bloom cycle reek of mutilation. “Cutting-edge, bleeding-edge, leading-edge” – how we fight to stay on top mirrors the destruction we often leave in our wake.
He likes to sing along, but he don’t know what it means
Okay, fine. There’s a downside. But isn’t keeping up with the times important? Don’t you want to show your clients that you know how to stay relevant and can help them?
The answer is yes – but only if you can do it right.
Most of us jump on the opportunity to use the breaking-news cycle to flaunt our knowledge. We want to show that we’ve got our fingers on the pulse, that we’re thought leaders.
But you’ll only actually achieve that if what you’re saying offers something different and unique from what everyone else is saying.
And that’s much easier said than done.
Since we’re all in the habit of banging out content to get ourselves on the map, build SEO, and stay at the forefront of the conversation, there’s usually not enough time to find this unique angle. Instead, we end up regurgitating what’s already been said on the matter.
Our posts get a few likes and shares. But they quickly disappear, buried way down in the feed, never to be seen again. We’re pissed when the traffic drops off after a couple days. Once the hype’s over, so is the allure or our post.
WTF, where’s the traction? How do you ever stick in your audience’s minds?
Evergreen content. Ironically, that less glamorous yet wildly helpful how-to guide or comprehensive FAQ list is the key to getting noticed. For good.
Here’s 3 reasons why evergreen content rocks:
1. It builds SEO effortlessly. Clients ask me all the time how they can build better SEO (increasing your website’s ranking in the Google search results page). “Create extremely well-written, helpful content,” I say. They often don’t like my answer.
“Yeah, but isn’t there anything more we can do to really boost it, like, right now?” No. There isn’t. There’s no magic code or alt tag on the backend of your website that’ll do it. SEO is a long game, and it takes forever to build. [If someone tells you any different, run. They will screw your shit up big time.]
Evergreen content helps fulfill these main requirements for SEO:
- Backlinks – The more reputable websites link back to your site, the more Google sees you as reputable too. Evergreen content has a way better chance of creating backlinks than a post that will be out-of-date and irrelevant in a few months’ time. It’s more valuable because it’s more helpful to your audience.
- Keywords – Evergreen content is usually super honed in on one specific topic. So it’s the perfect opportunity to effortlessly create an awesome, informative post around a niche long-tail keyword – a phrase that people type into Google to find you. “Niche” is the key word (pun intended) here. Find that narrowed-down phrase people will type into Google that’s 100% your jam, what you’ve got on lock. For instance, if you’re a yoga studio that helps people living with mental illness, write a how-to guide called “Why Yoga Can Help Treat PTSD.” Your audience will find you much faster this way than if you were to write something called “The Top Benefits of Yoga,” which already has a billion results.
- High-quality, well-written, relevant, regularly updated content – Unlike news and updates posts, evergreen content gives you the chance to take a deep dive into exploring that niche phrase. Don’t just type a boring list of rigid facts/info. Put YOUR unique spin on the info you’re offering. What does YOUR audience need help with to move forward on this topic?
2. It keeps your purpose front-of-mind. Wait, why are we doing this again? It’s easy to forget your brand’s core mission if you’re constantly chasing the news cycle. Evergreen content anchors you and always reminds you of your purpose. You can refocus on how to help solve your clients’ most pressing problems.
3. It helps you decide what timely topics are worth your input. When you’re focused on your purpose and what your audience needs most, you’ve got a much better gauge for what timely topics are worth your time and energy. Not every breaking news piece warrants your input.
How to make your evergreen content timeless and timely
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever post on something timely. It just means you should prioritize evergreen content and balance it with the other stuff you’re putting out there.
In many ways, evergreen content is your chance to be authentically timeless and timely. Great evergreen content is timeless, but it’s always forward-thinking. Carefully consider the most important newsworthy events over the last 3-6 months, and find ways to blend those into the fundamentals of what you do.
When you blend timeless with timely, you show your audience you’ve got insight and sound perspective on a timely event and how you can help:
- Step back and think about what will actually help your audience today AND tomorrow. What is it about your UNIQUE purpose-driven work that is universal? Meaning, what are the principles, strategies, and values you have that make your clients’ lives better, regardless of news cycle chaos? And how is that different from what your competitors offer? Write on that topic, and use clear examples whenever possible.
- Think about how the world has changed and create evergreen content that focuses on how we deal with it AS A RESULT of that change – not the change itself. COVID-19 is an excellent example. Say you’re a video production company. COVID has forced all fitness studios to go fully online. Instead of writing a “timely” piece that debates the pros and cons of this (“the change” – which will eventually become moot), instead write “A Complete Guide to At-Home Video Production for Easy Online Fitness Instruction.” Not only is taking advantage of a super niche keyword, but it’s solving a major problem for your audience that they probably don’t have a lot of info on yet. Always be thinking about how you can use breaking news to build your evergreen content library, not just how you react.
- Go back to evergreen content you have and repurpose it. Instead of stressing yourself out about creating a bunch of new timely content from scratch, identify the parts of your evergreen content that are uniquely you and your organization. Like I mentioned in the previous section, this means focusing on YOUR unique perspective and spin on what you do, why, and how it helps. Then you can take those snippets and repurpose them into a blog post, a social media post, etc. that ties to a current event. This way, your unique purpose-driven work will always be front and center no matter what you talk about.
- Use evergreen content as your CTAs. In any timely posts you do write, be sure to link to your most helpful, relevant evergreen content as proof that you know what you’re talking about. You’re not just out there shouting a random opinion.
- Long-form is best. Unlike flash-in-the-pan commentary, evergreen articles should be at least 2,000 words. This gives you the propers space to explain your topic, use strong examples, and detail out the info your audience needs to use your suggestions. It’s going to take time to put this together, like anything meaningful does. And in the end, it’ll f_ing matter, like anything meaningful does.
It’s tough, but you can do it. Like those pines, you can also be calm, unwavering, mighty, strong, enduring. Deep down, that’s all we really want. And most of all, what we all damn well need right now.
Need help creating killer evergreen content that’ll get eyes on you forever? Want to know how you can really stand out as someone who “gets it”? Drop me a line, and let’s get started.