How to Create Evergreen Content From Deciduous Content and Save Your Reputation

Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call, and your evergreen content will be there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We’ve talked about evergreen content and it’s antithesis, deciduous content, like news, or the process of newsjacking. Like a pine tree, evergreen content is alive and well all the time. And unlike a lilac, it blooms all year round.

Here’s how this applies to your content. If you are writing an article and “Mashed Potato Recipes” is your keyword, you could easily downgrade it to a petal-dropping deciduous post by calling it 10 Mashed Potato Recipes for Thanksgiving. But why would you want to do that? Your post,which could have been relevant all year round, has now been pigeonholed mostly to the month of November.

But if you title it The 10 Best Mashed Potato Recipes You’ve Ever Eaten, even your Thanksgiving table hunting pals will be satisfied. And heck, if you want to send out an email in November with the subject line “10 Best Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Recipes,” so be it.

As you can see, developing new, evergreen content is a bit of a no-brainer. Take a keyword and develop a post around that topic that could be relevant now, and in five years from now. The more difficult edition of this conversation is looking at your deciduous content and determining how evergreen it could be.

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Turning a lilac bush into a pine tree

At our quarterly Intensive events, we always have a room full of publishers who see the positive effects of evergreen content on their colleagues’ sites and begin anxiously compiling lists of all the posts they need to evergreen.

If you’d like to do the same thing, here’s how we recommend you do it:

First, look up the top 100-200 articles that are driving traffic to your site. This will help you prioritize where to start. No sense in spending the time updating an old article that gets five visitors per year, if you have one that drives 2,000 visitors per month.

Then, run through your list to determine which are already evergreen, and which ones are deciduous and need to be evergreened quickly. (By the way, we recommend updating all of your 100-200 traffic-driving blockbuster posts on a regular basis).

When you compile your list of outdated deciduous posts, you’re most likely to come across these most common fixes:

Short content: If the article is 300 words or less, upgrade it to at least 500 words, preferably 800 words.

No internal links: While you’re in there, link some key phrases to recent content.

An old date. When you update content, update the date too! You don’t have to, but if you’re putting all the work in, why not flaunt it? At the bottom, simply disclose, This content was originally published in XXXX and has been updated.”

Dependent on keyword placement: Posts that drive a lot of traffic tend to be optimized for a keyword (whether you know it or not). When updating, be sure to keep your keywords intact.

Varied references to dates and days: Take out instances of phrases like, “last week I wrote about” and “in 2001 we like to say…” When possible, take out dates altogether. We have mostly evergreen content at Mequoda, but we certainly have blips of deciduous content that ends up in our top 100 from time to time. The most common issue I come across is old data. Usually it’s a link to an old study with a list of old numbers. In these cases, I simply look up the most recent data and replace it. Or, if I think it’s going to be a pain to update on a regular basis to keep the content fresh (and it isn’t adding much value), I remove it.

Content that needs a re-write. In other cases, you might find that the content simply can’t be updated. And it’s totally, completely out of date and useless to new website visitors. Well, if this deciduous page is in your top 100 traffic-driving pages, rewrite it. I’ve come across posts on our site that were short 300-word promotions that we used in emails long ago. And when they show up on my blockbuster list by some fluke, you bet I re-write them. I’ll take the title of the article and write something completely new. In fact we do it almost every week on the Mequoda Daily. Cleaning up old content that’s no longer relevant and updating it is a great overall SEO strategy!

Lost hopes. In the case where the title of the article itself, and the URL of the article can’t be salvaged, we might leave it alone. Or, we might try to evergreen the content as best we can. You can always rewrite a title, and you can update a URL and redirect it, but with that much change it’s possible you’ll completely remove whatever keywords were driving the traffic, without even knowing it. Changing a blog title from Tom Brady Says Deflategate Scandal Doesn’t Taint Super Bowl Win cannot easily be changed to What Was Deflategate? in a few years for the history books. Maybe instead, you’ll link to a new article about Deflategate. And maybe in this article, you’ll put a link at the top that directs them to Read this first: What Was Deflategate? 

You have options. But the best idea is to avoid this situation by writing evergreen content to begin with. Can you see why? Remember, these are old outdated posts that thousands of people might be landing on as their first introduction to you through search. How embarrassing.

But there’s one more step.

Finally, in order to really keep content alive, use our 12x12x12 Twitter social media formula. This is where you write 12 unique Tweets for each article. Then you schedule them once per day for twelve days. Then once per month for twelve months. For Facebook, LinkedIn and G+, write two different social media posts. Schedule on on the day it publishes, and one six months or a year from the date of publish.

It sounds like a bit of extra work, but you won’t regret it when these articles are being shared and re-shared in social media a year from now without you having to lift a finger.

Now it’s your turn – how do you keep content alive? Let us and our readers know in the comments.

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