Evergreen Content, which should really be called Deciduous Content

By Bekka Palmer

Last week, I saw Rand Fishkin speak at Interactive Day San Diego about how inbound marketing is an unfair advantage. To be honest, most of the material is not new to me, but he did remind me about some things that we aren’t doing for our clients that we should. One of the easier ones to implement, but too often overlooked is the idea of Evergreen Content. Now, according to popular opinion Evergreen Content is content that will never be outdated. But, in Rand’s presentation he is talking about something else; he is referring to content that does need to be updated periodically, but the concept remains the same. I will argue that it should be renamed Deciduous Content, because the tree will always remain, but the leaves are new every year. So, the data might change over time, but the questions still remain.

There is still a thing called Evergreen Content, but I think you can tell the difference:

Evergreen Content Deciduous Content
How to change a tire Best tires of the year
How to tie your shoe Best Fall shoes
How to use photoshop Features of the new Photoshop

There is a particular way to implement this type of content on your site to get the most out of it. The most important part is to keep this content on the same URL every time you update it. For example, let’s say I do a survey once a year about the best running shoes, if I were to blog about it each year the URLs might look like this:

BUT, if I were to make this into Deciduous Content (that’s right Rand and internet, I outvoted you and have renamed this phenomenon) I would do this:

Each and every year I would archive the old content so people can still access it, and then I would put the new survey data in it’s place.

But why???

Because in 2009 I got 50 links, in 2010 I got 100 links to that URL, then again in 2011 I got 200 links to that URL. Then all of a sudden I rank number 1 for “best running shoes.” WHAT?!? Rad huh?

You do need to think a few things through before forging ahead with your Deciduous Content

  1. You need a plan for how you will archive the old content.
  2. You need to be able to update the publish date on the piece of content.
  3. You MUST make an editorial calendar and stick to it. Maybe it’s a quarterly update, maybe it’s yearly, or every other year, but stick to your plan and tell everyone how often you will keep it updated.
  4. Remember: the date can go in the title of the page, but NOT in the URL.

So… What could I possibly write about that could work for this?

Well friends, I have done most of the idea generation for you, so pick one of my ten ideas and run with it! Some of the examples I have chosen show smart people using a single URL, and some are just good examples of content that would work as Deciduous Content, but they didn’t think that far ahead.

1. Original statistical data collected yearly, bi-yearly, quarterly.

seomoz search engine ranking factors
Examples: SEOmoz ranking factors (pictured above), David Mihm’s local search ranking factors, best running shoes survey.

2. Yearly best of lists. These are editorially selected lists, like the TIME best blogs. Sometimes I wonder why I care what TIME says, but I do care, and everyone that gets picked writes a blog post about it and links to it. TIME best blogs could and should move this to a single URL and push the old ones into an archive, but they don’t which is why they should hire some smarter SEO people.

3. Fact sheets on subjects that change over time such as legal issues like DCMA or medical/health topics like USDA food guides.

usda choose my plate
Example: The USDA food guide (newest version pictured above) changes every so often, and they even show us all of the old ones on this nice PDF (!?!?!). I know some of these food guides are from pre-internet (okay pre-electricity) times, but they could get a little savvier and put them all on a single page.

4. Segmented lists of social media profiles.
Example: Here is a list of all of the twitter profiles of magazine editors. This sort of list could be created for all sorts of profile types like celebs, athletes, politicians, authors and more. The Twitter spammers would love you and tell all of their spammy friends about the list and you would get millions of links. Just joking, regular people would find this type of list useful, especially when dipping their toes in social media for their business.

5. Best of restaurant lists from trusted food blogger types. This is another one that should be editorially selected as opposed to votes. There are hundreds of lists of restaurants that people voted for ranking in the top spots in every city, but oftentimes people don’t want the generic lists, they want a list from someone who actually knows a thing or two about food. So food bloggers should get on this and create their own list every year. Actually, this would work for a wide variety of topics like running shoes, laptops, tv shows, ipad apps or anything else where there is a large number of choices, but very few great choices.

6. Beginners guides for industries that change often, like SEO.

7. Top fashion trends for each season. Hello fashion bloggers and fashion sites, put all of the Fall items at one URL, all of the Spring at another, etc. It’s a long term strategy, but if you update the trends year after year you could easily rank number one for “Fall fashion trends.”

8. Editorially created city guides: This one is almost too easy, I’m not sure why everyone isn’t doing it. Any local business should create a city guide for their own city. Even though the content might not be a perfect fit for your industry, links for “San Diego Guide” can’t hurt.

design sponge city guides
Even web businesses can utilize this approach to rank in multiple cities, check out the Design*Sponge City Guides (pictured above).

9. Holiday gift guides updated each November/December. Another easy one, especially for e-Commerce sites. It would be really weird to only link to your own store, but one or two items from your shop would probably fit right in. Just update the content every holiday season and before long people searching for “holiday gift guide” will be knocking on your doorstep.

10. Toolkit lists of the best online tools to complete a specific task. For example, I found these lists of online tools that community managers use to keep track of their tasks and interactions. As new tools come out, or as your process changes update the list. This could work for any technical process such as web design, web development, engineering, link building, etc.

Did I give you enough ideas? If none of these work for your business leave a comment and I will try my best to come up with something for you. Remember, let’s all start calling it Deciduous Content because if we are updating it seasonally, then it’s not really evergreen.

  • Gary Magnone

    Awesome post! There are some really great ideas here, and it is pretty surprising there’s not more sites taking advantage of all the opportunities that you pinpointed.

    Another one I thought of is for seasonal promotions/discounts/coupons. People love deals, and there are lots of sites that link to best deals for a certain niche.

    Instead of:

    Instead of: