The importance of evergreen content (CASE STUDY)

evergreen content

Think of the ways you get information today.

It’s likely you’re getting it in a few ways. Google and Facebook may be the most common sources. Some people call them the owners of an information duopoly. (I’ll save that for another post.)

It’s true that the majority of us, through social or search, got used to getting quick answers for these networks.

facebook google duopoly

We have a need, we google it.

We have some free time, Facebook will present what we’re most likely going to read now.

The same for every other social network. Algorithmic feeds are now our default, although that brings some challenges to society.

In these networks live different content formats, with different lifespans.

From my experience with several of our publisher clients, news content has a short lifespan. On social, they even measure a link’s half-life. The concept relates to “the amount of time at which a link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak”.

Today, we’re analyzing three GetSocial customers and their data. I’ve tried to bring mixed industries and examples, for the sake of diversity.

  • Client A: Recipes website (US)
  • Client B: Marketing Magazine (US)
  • Client C: Broadcasting Network (Europe)

For the study, we used the most visited articles in the last year. We can see a significant difference between half-lives of these three websites.

average article half-life

See how prolonged in time the recipes’ half-life is (Client A). We’ll understand that this website’s content is like wine: it gets better with time. Traffic for these articles actually accrues over time, compounding social, referral and search traffic.

Now, take a lot at the broadcasting network (Client C). This is the issue with ‘breaking news’ kind of content. It’s ephemeral. What’s news today rarely stays as news in weeks ahead. To build up audiences, they must provide a high volume of content, every day.

In between, we see the magazine (Client B) which provides business-related news but also timeless articles. An example would be something like ‘5 questions to ask in a marketing job interview’ or similar. That’s something they’re ranking for but isn’t time framed.

Overall, this metric (half-life) has been decreasing, across networks.

This means that content is disappearing from feeds faster than ever before. As such, your content’s visibility and availability, for your audience, is also compressing.

Content challenge

This brings a big challenge to everyone producing content. A few days ago I came across this video, something named like ‘How much does it cost to do a blog post’. The author explained all the steps involving the process: research, drafting, copyrighting, design, illustration, etc.

Taking all that effort into something that will reach its peak, in a social network, is as little as 2 hours can be frustrating.

But it also brings opportunity. It brings the need to produce lasting, useful content. Some call it: evergreen content.

evergreen content

Oh darling, will our love be like an evergreen tree.

Stay evergreen and young as the seasons go.

Your kisses could make love grow like an evergreen tree.

Bloom in the summer’s sun and the winter’s snow.

Sir Cliff Richard (‘Evergreen Tree’)

Stay evergreen and young as the seasons go”. The former Shadows member, who lives in Portugal, gave a relatable definition of what content should be.

A timeless and relevant piece of information, suiting a specific audience, that provides lasting value.

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Evergreen content

Evergreen content has the potential to drive you qualified traffic over time. But it also creates authority and trust for your brand.

It allows you to become consistent in your message while evangelizing your audience.

It allows you to become a leader in your market.

And in a world where attention is at a premium, any organic qualified pair of eyeballs is more than welcome.

Evergreen content examples

That said, there are some types of content which are powerful evergreen pieces. Some examples include:

Purpose of evergreen content

Regardless of the content format, you need to create it to last.

You should optimize it to rank for the right keywords (remember, you’re always trying to qualify your audience).

And you must not forget that with this content you’re educating. Educating existing customers, potential leads or a group of consumers.

Case Study

Looking back at our three clients, I pulled some data to analyze how visits performed over time.

Client A (the recipe website) had an amazing performance for its best articles. This is what evergreen content is all about: lasting effect and value.

evergreen content study

See how different articles actually increase in the volume of daily visits over time. The peaks at around day 200 represent x-mas and NYE, classic examples for recipe searches.

But what happens when we mix lasting content with fresh, newsworthy one? Let’s take a look at Client B.

Client B (the marketing magazine), as expected, had a mixed behavior. For most content, news-related, it performed poorly.

evergreen content study

Notice in the next image how most of the traffic is performed in the first 100 days, in some of the articles. After it, it’s a content graveyard, with just a few articles reaching a couple hundred clicks a day.

evergreen content study
(high volume on the first 100 days)

However, later in the year, around the 200-day mark, it’s possible to see some uprising in a few articles. Perhaps a good link, perhaps a surge in search, but the content was already there.

evergreen content study
(traffic peaks after 6 months)

That leaves us with the last client, the broadcasting network (Client C).

The news is the perfect evergreen antonym. They come and go, but their traffic surely doesn’t stay. The average half-life for news articles was two days, as seen above. Let’s plot that for almost a full year. evergreen content study

As expected, most of the traffic is made in the first few days, often not surfacing anytime again throughout the year.

Well, I hope these datasets give you a better understanding of the phenomenon of evergreen content, and how you can create lasting valuable content.

I hope this piece is one of those as well.

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João Romão is a founder & CEO at GetSocial.

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