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How To Create Content That Drives Traffic For YEARS

how to writeDo you have content that keeps driving traffic to your site for months or even years?

Evergreen content is the kind that never goes out of style because the information stands the test of time. 15% of the web traffic my site got in 2014 came from this article and this article…both were written in 2013. The latter of which was originally published in 2012 but updated a year later, to be exact.

I’m going to show you exactly what I’ve learned over the past few years from writing hundreds of articles. Not every one of them has been a hit but there are definitely enough similarities among the best of the best to craft some helpful guidelines.

1. Find The Right Topic

Before you try to create your killer evergreen content, you need to realize a few things. First off, creating evergreen content takes a lot of work and there is no true “magic bullet” for success, only guidelines.

Secondly, there is no way that every article you write will be a hit and drive traffic for years so you have to be selective about the topics that you will invest more time into.

A great topic for evergreen content should meet most (if not all) of the following criteria:

  • Addresses a deep pain point for your target market
  • Answers question(s) that you regularly have to answer for prospects
  • Clearly demonstrates your expertise on the subject
  • Be an “all inclusive” guide to a topic that exclusively affects your target market

Tips For Coming Up With Evergreen Content Topics

  1. Think about three perfect customers for you and do some investigating to figure out their greatest challenges. Write the definitive “how-to” guide on those subjects!
  2. Tackle massive topics in your business by breaking them down into a series of helpful articles that explain the finer points in greater detail. Go here for an example.
  3. Answer any question clients & prospects ask that starts with, “What Is ___________?” or, “What do I do when ___________ happens?”

2. How-To Articles Always Prevail

Pick up any book on content marketing or read one of the many great blogs that discuss it and you’ll very quickly learn that how-to guides and tutorials are big favorites.

The top five pages on my site for 2014 were all how-to based in some way. Not only that, I realized that my audience has an insatiable appetite for this type of content after a recent survey I sent out.

Check out the results:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.14.21 AM

3. Timely Vs. Evergreen Content

It’s important to recognize the difference between articles that capitalize on a trend (lots of traffic in a small, concentrated amount of time) vs. evergreen content (more traffic spread over time).

Timely content focuses on events happening right now that won’t be relevant at some point in the near future. A good example of this is our recent article, Is Facebook Organic Reach Going To Die In 2015. These types of articles will drive a lot of traffic in a short period of time and then totally fall off once they lose their relevance.

There’s nothing wrong with timely content, it’s a great thing to mix into your content calendar as long as you realize its strengths and manage your expectations.

Examples of timely content:

  • Latest iPhone Update Causes Crashing For Some Users
  • LinkedIn Groups Debuts New Feature: Top Contributors
  • 13 Ways To Save Money This Friday The 13th
  • 10 Best Cyber Monday Deals For 2014

Examples of evergreen content:

  • How To Fix A Leaky Pipe With Teflon Tape
  • 21 Steps To The Perfect LinkedIn Profile
  • How To Get Travel Insurance For Going Overseas
  • How To Get A Loan With Bad Credit

4. Beware of Content-Killing Mistakes

There are several content killing mistakes you need to avoid or you else you won’t come close to the results you’re looking for.

  • Don’t use your content to sell. Evergreen content is meant to build your credibility by providing value and positioning you as the expert.
  • Don’t cheap out on value. You know those times where you have a great idea and then get frightened by the workload that comes along with it? Rather than watering down your idea so it works for your schedule, you need to act on the big ideas to get the big traffic. This article was a royal pain in the you-know-what to make but it continues to drive almost 10% of my annual website traffic. That’s what I call an ROI.
  • Don’t think short-term. Evergreen content is all about the long-term game. Trust is built slowly, so invest the time to do the job right. It will pay off!

5. Make Sure You’re Converting Your Traffic

Make sure that increasing your email subscribers is a priority as that’s the real estate you truly own in the digital world. All of your traffic is anonymous until they give you some sort of information that identifies them as a potential lead. Give them as many opportunities as possible to give you that information and provide a high-value incentive to do so.

The go-to email opt-in incentives for the past while have been short eBooks, checklists, training videos or webinar of some sort. We’re getting close to the point of saturation, forcing content marketers to up their game a bit in the coming years.

A tip from John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, really stuck with me recently and I’m seriously considering its potential for converting new subscribers. Here’s what John had to say about creating content libraries in our recent article, 10 Experts Predict Digital Marketing Trends For 2015:

“I see the act of list building via the single bait piece such as an eBook going away and being replaced with the use of content libraries that attract community members.

In other words, instead of signing up to get blog posts or a generic email newsletter, list builders will offer access to a growing library of useful information that someone will join and consume based on the content that interests them most.”

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

When done right, evergreen content can be the gift that keeps on giving. You need to start by honing in on the primary pain points of your target audience and then following that up by investing the time to create the best possible guide to solve those problems.

Don’t forget to keep promoting your older evergreen content if it’s still relevant – just make sure you’re not overdoing it. Again, there is no “rule” here but use your common sense and respect the privilege given to you by fans that allows you to easily serve your content to them.

My final words of wisdom are to always deliver more value than you feel comfortable with…that’s when you get INSANE traffic and social shares. You want your target market to be so excited they found your website/blog that they can’t resist reading it and (hopefully) sharing it too.

What’s an example of great evergreen content that you’ve seen? How have you personally executed on creating evergreen content for your business? Let us know in the comments below.