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The Importance of Being Evergreen

Noah Thornburgh
Posted by Noah Thornburgh on Sep 25, 2020 2:31:17 PM

Patiently toiling in the depths of your archive are silent heroes of content, informing readers day after day from the moment they are published. These evergreen articles, as they’re known, will be more important to readers than any other on your site.

We’re going to go over exactly what evergreen articles are, why they’re important and what to do about them.

What makes an article evergreen?

In newsrooms, evergreen stories are ones that could be run at anytime without context. Food reviews, public transport guides, and local history tales fit into these categories.

These stories stay relevant forever (or until the restaurant closes, public transport is overhauled, or local history is cancelled). Most often, these articles are in the search results for terms that never go out fashion.

These graphs show the number of views over time for two articles from our client Hidasta elämää, a lifestyle publication.

Views over time

 

Views over time

 

The graph on the left shows the views for what must be a good recipe over the span of about two years. Recipes are classic evergreen content, because they don’t expire. People will never stop cooking with cabbage.

The graph on the right is for an advice column. The chart doesn’t have a steady increase in views, but rather has spikes periodically. R&S dashboard shows it’s biggest source of traffic is from Facebook, so those spikes are likely viral postings.

Evergreen articles have a linear increase in views. Most articles are inconsistent.

So what?

If you were offered $1 million right now or $0.01 but your money would double every day for a month, what would you do?

You’ve heard the question before, so the answer is easy: take the penny, because compound interest nets you more in the long term.

We’re operating on the same principle with evergreen articles.

Views for evergreen versus nonevergreen

Among React & Share’s customers, the average evergreen article has more than 5000 as many viewers as others.

What evergreen content could you be producing?

THL, the Finnish health agency, has a very popular piece of evergreen content: their “FINRISKI-laskuri”. It’s a heart attack risk calculator that asks for some user data and determines their risk of a heart-related complication.

Finriski views over time

It’s got a healthy evergreen growth, netting a consistent amount of viewers since the moment it was published.

It’s also extremely reactive, showing users typically find the app useful enough to leave positive feedback through React & Share’s buttons.

Finriski reactions over time

The risk calculator’s evergreen success is easy to predict. People will always be worried about heart disease, which makes accessible data interesting to a wide swath of the population.

If you have access to useful data, build a way for users to access that data. As long as that data remains relevant, users will find their way to the site (and thank you for it!).

Here’s another example: The Finnish Defense forces has a page that lists the hierarchy of military rankings. It’s got a similarly healthy viewer trend up into the 200,000s while being highly (positively) reactive.

Defense force views over time

Defense force reactions over time

This one simple page nets more views and positive reactions than any other page on their site.

Why? It’s simple, useful, accurate information direct from the source. As long as the military is around, people will want to know how rankings, stripes, and emblems work among the troops.

Another lesson then: If you have info only you can provide accurately, make it available! This page has no fluff or frills, but fulfills its duty with honor and grace (as evidenced by the linearly increasing positive reactions).

Evergreen it is

Brainstorm and write some evergreen content. Make sure it’s about an always-relevant topic and it is simple and accessible.

If you have access to important information no one else does, use that! If you think you can present important information in the best way, write it up. 

Evergreen content will be the workhorse of your archive, and users will appreciate your ability to inform.

Topics: Communications, Evergreen

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