Everywhere I turn, I hear the term "evergreen" referring to Web content that is on a page of the main content site - not landing pages or other temporary pages. How often this content is updated is an open discussion (I have heard numerous ways to describe "evergreen" content), but generally it seems that evergreen content is content that is generally meant to last and be updated.
Now, maybe I'm old and cantankerous because I've been working on the Web for a number of years, have watched content creation fads come and go, and have watched development practices evolve over time. Web practices may seem that they are evolving with new trends and new jargon, but usually best practices are recycled concepts made new. I see this "evergreen" content concept as being part of this "recycled concept" phenomena. Web sites, by the nature of the Web, are living, or "evergreen." They are constantly evolving. Some pages change less than others; some pages will be retired because the content is no longer relevant; some content will be updated because it just doesn't make sense anymore. In many ways, Web publishing is similar to book publishing and reprints. Once a book is published - it is relevant at the time; if a book is republished and desired by a market, either it continues to be relevant or it could be slightly updated in a new edition to keep it relevant. Content is only demanded because it's relevant.
With that said, why all the fuss about evergreen content? If you are in the business of content, you need to have a way for people to find your content - which is SEO/SEM. Generally, it makes more sense to drive people to a page that is more permanent, relevant and updated, and therefore has more value, than just a general landing page that lasts a few months. This is basic SEO/SEM strategy. Isn't that the same, if not a larger, overarching strategy, as evergreen content strategy?
Then consider the bigger strategy questions - what is the strategy of your site? Why does your site exist? Are you trying to generate leads, build awareness, spread your thoughts across the Web?
Is this new "evergreen" concept focused on putting the needs of SEO/SEM ahead of the needs of the user or even site strategy?
First, let's define the term "evergreen"
Wikipedia alludes to it:
Owing to the botanical meaning, the term "evergreen" can refer metaphorically to something that is continuously renewed or is self-renewing. One example of metaphorical use of the expression is the term "Evergreen content" used to describe perennial articles or guides about topics that do not change frequently.
Basically, evergreen content here is content that is fairly stable and almost a staple of a site. The problem I have with this term - at one point in Web history, pages that don't get updated frequently are considered to be "old" and not as relevant. If anything, it's the content that doesn't change much that is considered stale and loses ranking in SEO.
There is another definition:
On the Internet, evergreen is a term used by some ad agencies to describe a Web site that is updated on a daily or other frequent basis. A Web site that is evergreen is considered more likely to attract both first-time and repeat visitors. If a media buyer for an ad agency is selecting a number of sites for an ad campaign, whether a site is considered evergreen may determine whether it's included in the campaign. A Web site that is not updated frequently enough is termed brown.
Similar, yet different, from Wikipedia. The general theme is content is constantly updated to show relevance and value. I don't see how this is a new idea and why we are even using this term to reflect just general best practices for the Web. The bottom line is that a site needs to have content that is useful and relevant. It makes sense for ad agencies to use the term for advertising space, but otherwise - isn't "evergreen" sites just best practices for the Web?
Then I read this at SEOmoz:
When the information starts to grow old (or weak) spend the time, put in the research, and update what is outdated... this is not always possible, but in many cases you can repurpose your content to still serve a valid need.
This goes back to traditional Web content practices - make sure your content is updated and relevant. This doesn't mean a rewrite - it means tweaking, updating, keeping links current, keeping the site fresh. It's about people finding your content useful on a site.
There is a site that outlined best practices for content strategies for B2B sites. Rather than just developing a presence and building awareness, the ContentLead blog helps people understand how they can generate leads or revenue.
Evergreen “landing pages” that describe products or services are critical for answering the questions people have when they land on your website. Developing a content marketing strategy that results in more visibility is great, but evergreen content that standards to inform can help your prospects toward conversions.
This doesn't sound like a new approach or method to me. I thought this was how the Web works in general. You don't create content just to create it - you create it with a strategy and goal in mind. How is this "new"?
Then there is this definition at wiseGeek:
Evergreen content refers to informational or reference material that never goes out of date, therefore desirable to websites looking to build a lasting readership. Good evergreen material is needed over and over by the general public, creating a built-in guarantee of continuing hits. The quality of the evergreen content in terms of its presentation, clarity and usefulness, will go a long way towards dictating the popularity of the website.
Again - this is just Web best practice from the 90s that works with search engines to get you noticed.
And at Greywolf's SEO blog, he refers to evergreen content as:
Evergreen content is content written with the goal of driving traffic to a website for a long period of time. In some cases, such as when the content is historical and will never change (something like the presidency of Zachary Taylor), the content can live for the life of the website with little or no updating. In other cases, the content may have a long lifespan but must be updated every few years. An example of this would be something like “year end tax strategies for seniors”, which changes every few years as the tax laws change.
This just sounds like more of the same, old Web best practice to me. Again, I don't see how this is a new concept, how this is a revolution, or how this is new to SEO. And further, SEO is important and should help guide your content strategy, but it is NOT your complete strategy. This goes back to the purpose of your site. Your site is not a mouthpiece for your executives to say what they want about their products; it's not a wall to post information about a product that you think you need to tell your customers. A Web site is for users - prospects and customers - who want to get information; it's also for you to convert these people into actual customers. It's an exchange - you are giving content; you are getting popularity.
Company News/Site News - It's about your strategy and goals
There is ALWAYS a need to keep company news current. For a B2B company, corporate news supports sales efforts. The sale in a B2B environment is not just a product sale - it's a sale of trust between the companies. The company buying a product needs to understand what the company selling is doing, know if that company will be around in 5 years to support the product, and get to know if the "investment" will be profitable. This is why a home page needs to be regularly updated and press releases need to be regularly generated. This sales process is about industry relevance, activity, and trust in the future. And that can only be proven through a company's actions (which get communicated on the site as news or activity (e.g., product releases)).
Regular activity at a company means that content needs to be regularly updated. There should always be something new - this supports sales. A stale site doesn't support anything except to show that you don't want to communicate to anyone what you do nor do you care enough to update your site to get new business and show what you do.
Evergreen for blogs?
Although "evergreen" content is really standard Web practice, "evergreen" may be more for blogs than anything else. Creating topics like "how to do this or that" more frequently than "this is going on - isn't it crazy!" should be part of the strategy for a blog - or any site - in general. A blog needs to be credible and relevant in order to get sustainable traffic. Trendy content may get traffic and credibility for today, but it won't over time. But again, is this really a new strategy? Or a recycled idea?
I think it is more relevant for blogs to have just a general content strategy, or a goal, a reason to exist. Some blogs really are focused on trendy issues - commentary on current events that are relevant for today, but tomorrow may get very little traffic. The blog for Paul Krugman, for example, is about the trends of the day. He gets a lot of hits because it's Paul Krugman and he is a famous nobel laureate and economist. If you are looking to be famous through creating your own blog, you may need to have a mix of content on your blog to boost your hits through SEO/SEM - or find a way to be famous (becoming famous first may be easier actually than becoming famous through a blog).
If content on your blog is continually updated, then is it still a blog? That's an interesting question to ponder. Wouldn't your blog then transform to be a site? Something to consider.
Why does "evergreen" content matter again?
Honestly, there is really nothing new about "evergreen" content. What matters is that your site - either a corporate site or blog - has a general strategy, a complementary SEO/SEM strategy, and you know what you want to achieve with your site and content. A site should ALWAYS be "evergreen" - your content should ALWAYS be updated and made current. It's not bad to have trendy content if that is indeed what your site was created to have.
"Evergreen" is just the same old recycled best practice for the Web to keep content fresh and relevant - and make some people feel "trendy" that they found something new that we old-time Web folk have known all along.