How to plan and create evergreen content

Last week I looked at the potential of evergreen content for SEO purposes, showing how it can work over time. 

This time I’ll look at how to plan and create content like this, where to find ideas, and the different formats you can use.

Planning and idea generation

Ideas for content come from a range of sources, but here a few places to look for inspiration…

Matching your product to the content

Part of the challenge around evergreen is the nature of the product or service you’re looking to draw attention to.

For Search Engine Watch this isn’t too tricky. We’re about providing advice and insight into (primarily) search marketing, so that’s what we do.

However, it isn’t so easy for some businesses. Exciting brands like Lego can create (or get their fans to create) content easily thanks to the product.

But what if you’re selling pest control solutions, or insurance?

The deBugged blog from pest control firm Ehrlich is one example. Content such as guides to termites is evergreen, while there’s also some playful posts, insect brownie recipes for one.

debugged

Identify common user/customer problems

This is a great starting point for content creation as it ensures that the focus is on solving genuine issues.

Take a look at this from Repair Clinic. Its drop-down menus allow customers to navigate according to the problem they’re experiencing.

Repair clinic nav

Now, this is a useful way to navigate, but it also reveals something about the process of creating content.

Either from keyword research, or more likely an analysis of common customer questions and issues, Repair Clinic has identified some of the reasons customers look for repair information.

It has then created the page to match the query, and produced some useful resources for customers.

From an SEO perspective, it works beautifully. I’ve taken a few of the common problems from the drop-down menu, and invariably you’ll see Repair Clinic in a prominent position.Repair Clinic SEO

So, Repair Clinic has found common user problems and created content which addresses those issues.

The fact that this content is easy to find in the SERPs should ensure that the company attracts plenty of relevant traffic, and sells a few spare parts.

Mining your data

Ideas for content are all around, and many are there in your site’s data.

For example, you could look at your site search data for common queries and issues which content could address.

Do your users’ on-site searches reveal issues that haven’t been addressed by your current content? Do any topics stand out?

What has worked before?

Look back through analytics data. Identify the evergreen posts you already have on your site.

This is easy enough, just take a look at the top content fro the last year or two. Are there posts with recurring traffic over that period?

ga evergreen

 

Evergreen content should look something like this:

evergreen meta tags

As we can see, it’s receiving a consistent amount of traffic over a long period of time, just over a year in this case.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge amounts of traffic. If the content is relevant to your products or services, the important thing is that it’s attracting the right kind of visitors.

Once you’ve identified your own evergreen content, think about what these pages have in common:

  • Headlines. Is there a pattern? In our list above, and other reports, common factors include compelling headlines, lists, and how-to guides.
  • Topics. What are the common themes and topics that perform well?
  • Article style. Are they stats based articles? Infographics? Long-form content?
  • Presentation. How are articles presented? I find lots of relevant charts, example screenshots and clear headings make an article more readable and hence more likely to become evergreen.

Look at social data

Using social tools such as buzzsumo you can identify the posts that perform well over time on social media.

This doesn’t necessarily equate to consistent traffic, but it quite often does and provides more inspiration.

Buzzsumo SEW

Search rankings

See which terms you’re ranking for and which pages are ranking well for those terms.

This should help you to identify the evergreen content that is already working, as well as providing ideas for new content.

seo evergreen

For ideas, I’ll often look for search terms where there is room for improvement. Maybe terms where rankings have slipped due to older content, or where we’re near the top of page two.

Updating and keeping content fresh

An easy way to create evergreen content, and one which follows on from the previous points, is to refresh and rewrite existing evergreen pages.

We’ve done this once or twice with SEW content. For example, this Facebook cheat sheet article from 2013 has been consistently popular, but the information within will change over time.

So, we created a social media image size infographic with more up to date information. It was published in December, so it’s early to judge whether or not it will be evergreen, but it has been popular so far.

Some sites will simply update the content and republish posts as new. It’s a tactic which can work and something I’ve experimented with in the past.

In short, with an update and a new publish date, you can attract extra traffic, links and shares, and it can boost the rankings for that page as Google sees fresh rather than refreshed content.

However, I find it more honest and transparent, and more useful for readers, to create new articles based on older content. You can always use the older pages to link to the new version, and vice versa.

Evergreen content formats

These article formats have worked well, and can be adapted for different sites and topics.

Go niche

Don’ be afraid to get into the detail on posts. Evergreen content isn’t all about popularity, it’s about delivering the right kind of traffic over time.

For example, a post on using redirects may seem niche to some, but for a site like this it can deliver consistent long tail traffic.

e.g: Guide to 301 redirects for SEO

How-to guides

How to guides fit very well with this site’s ethos, and work well over time as they provide practical guidance for users.

They also perform well in search for the same reason, as well as the fact that people will often append searches with ‘how to’.

seo internal linking

E.g: Internal linking for SEO: examples and best practices

Curation

Listing useful tools or stats adds value for users and creates a useful resource which keeps people coming back.

For example, this post on free SEO tools has been in the top 10 SEW posts for the past couple of years.

Lists

Some people may dislike them, but the truth is that lists work very well.

Indeed, they make up roughly 70% of our most popular articles over the past few years.

They work principally because they tell the potential reader that they will be easy to scan and digest, and also appeal to people’s curiosity.

E.g: 14 ways to reduce your site’s bounce rates

Go long-form

Longer articles tend to be more comprehensive and can provide readers with much of the information they need on a given subject.

There is a belief that the internet has destroyed people’s attention spans, and that longer articles are to be avoided, but I don’t subscribe to that.

Indeed, the Quartz curve is a good example. it found that articles of between 500 and 800 words weren’t performing as well.

The reason? More than 500 words but less than 800 is too long to be easily digestible yet too short to be in-depth. It’s a kind of no-man’s land.

quartz curve

While the exact word counts may differ, I’ve seen the same thing on sites I’ve worked on. So, this article is 1,336 words long…

In summary

There isn’t necessarily a magic formula for creating evergreen content, its more something to aim for.

You can create a comprehensive guide to a topic but, for various reasons, sometimes they just don’t work over time.

However, if you attempt to produce quality content with an eye on SEO that aspires to be evergreen, you’ll get there a lot of the time.

from Search Engine Watch https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/01/20/how-to-plan-and-create-evergreen-content/
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Which UK domains gained the highest increase in Google visibility?

In a topsy-turvy year for SEM that saw ‘mobilegeddon’, the rise of machine learning, a shift towards the user experience and the dominance of the Knowledge Graph, let’s see who the eventual winners were in 2015.

IndexWatch has just published its annual visibility index showing which domains were the most successful in riding out the various algorithm storms.

Here are the top five:

1) Quora.com

Giving Google itself a run for its money in terms of being able to answer all of your vital (and not so vital) questions is the crowd-sourced Q&A site Quora.

visibility-quora.com

According to IndexWatch, Quora’s URLs are most impressive and can rank for almost 100 top keywords on Google.

2) Wilko.com

The hardware chain where you can go by a hammer-drill, a packet of screws, some washing up liquid and a panettone is apparently the top domain on the list to benefit from Google’s Phantom update.

wilko visibility

The Phantom update was a term given to an acknowledged update to Google’s core algorithm around 5 March last year that saw many websites lose between 20% – 60% of their visibility. The exact changes made to the algorithm remain a mystery.

3) MentalFloss.com

After a change from www.Mentalfloss.com to just Mentalfloss.com, the general upward trend of visibility for the humorous trivia site was replaced by an even bigger upward trend in the middle of 2015.

upward-trend-of-Mentalfloss

4) Zomato.com

Zomato provides exactly the kind of information that Google looks for when it serves localised results to hungry searchers, being as it contains restaurant reviews, user ratings, photos and scans of menus in varying degrees of quality.

zomato visibility

Much of its improved visibility success was down to Zomato’s purchase of urbanspoon.com, the content of which redirected to zomato.com from June 2015.

5) Wayfair.com

US based ecommerce business Wayfair Inc began its UK operations in 2010, and according to the index is another site that benefited from the Phantom update.

wayfair.com visibility
The remaining top 20 looks like this:

6) avclub.com +122,83%
7) encyclopedia.com +119,09%
8) spotify.com +117,71%
9) slate.com +117,06%
10) grammarist.com +108,69%
11) cinemablend.com +104,63%
12) rogerebert.com +104,34%
13) etonline.com +101,67%
14) macmillandictionary.com +97,10%
15) macworld.co.uk +96,62%
16) cambridge.org +88,40%
17) authoritynutrition.com +85,38%
18) musixmatch.com +82,25%
19) elle.com +80,37%
20) sainsburys.co.uk +79,86%

Visit the Sistrix blog to check out the full top 100.

from Search Engine Watch https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/01/20/which-uk-domains-gained-the-highest-increase-in-google-visibility/
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Google doubles down on Product Listings Ads with expandable mega layout

Our eagle-eyed friends over at ChannelAdviser spotted a test that Google is conducting, which allows the user to expand the PLAs shown for any given search query.

The new interface includes an arrow icon in the bottom right corner of the product display panel. Click on it and the amount of listings shown will at least double.

Here’s what it looks like:

expanded plas

If this test is rolled out as a new feature, then it will result in a lot of organic and paid text ads being edged out of the picture, with PLAs almost completely taking over the top of the page.

At any rate, it is clear that this should increase search marketers’ focus on optimising PLAs, as the other listing types will have been usurped.

As one of up to 16 ads being shown, this is potentially great news for brands that aren’t chasing – or able to attain – the very top listings. Ads beyond ninth place, that would otherwise not be shown, will now feature prominently at the top of the search results. Win.

That being said, it will be harder to get the attention of the searcher, given the competition and lack of elbow-room.

As Channel Advisor says:

“If the new layout becomes commonplace, CTRs could be affected, since each ad in a unit is now competing with as many as 15 other products.”

PLAs in demand among retailers

Interest from retailers in Google Shopping and its PLAs is fast increasing, according to data published by ChannelAdvisor in December. The study is based on data from thousands of retailers.

It found that Google Shopping accounted for 31.7% growth in the holiday season, compared with the previous year. That’s almost double the growth rate of Amazon, which is the next best performing individual third party marketplace.

The study also states that Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads have an average conversion rate of 3.19%, down from 3.61% in December 2014.

This kind of test comes as no surprise, as Google moves ever closer towards a one-stop shop, serving up results that give the user all of the information they need, without having to click onto another site. The PLAs of the future could well become one-click conversion events.

It also reflects Google’s need to show more paid results, to move the revenue needle. The next step could be for it to go upwardly responsive, for those of us with large monitors…

massively expanded plas

I jest. Kind of.

Making the most of the PLA format may have been one of Google’s New Year’s Resolutions, as it has also integrated them into its image search, according to this post from Jennifer Slegg.

What do you think? Have you managed to replicate the test? How are PLAs working out for you?

from Search Engine Watch https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/01/20/google-doubles-down-on-product-listings-ads-with-expandable-mega-layout/
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Competition time: win tickets to Connect, our two day search event

As you’ll hopefully already be aware, Search Engine Watch has launched a brand new search event, Connect, taking place on the beach during 4-5 February 2016 at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami.

ritz-carlton-miami

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re bringing together all the best and brightest of the search marketing industry to discuss how to thrive in the new customer-centric landscape, as well as having a big party on the beach.

You should come to! There will be 500+ of your peers, from SEO specialists, digital marketers, webmasters, developers, business leaders and industry professionals joining enjoying two days of sun, sea and search in Miami.

Tickets are still available, with early bird rates expiring on Friday 15 January. You can register here.

Or… you could win a ticket to Connect in one of our Twitter and Facebook contests running next week!

Every day from Tuesday 19 till Friday 22, we’ll be giving away one ticket per day to the lucky winner of our “Fill in the Blanks” contest. This will be run via our Twitter and Facebook, so give them a follow Like and keep an eye on them from Monday.

We’ll reveal the winners and publish the best responses to the contest in a post right here on SEW on Tuesday 26 January.

Now here’s the important terms and conditions bit that everyone loves and pays every attention to…

  • To enter, just reply to our “fill in the blanks” tweet, or comment on our Facebook “fill in the blanks” post when they’re published next week.
  • Winners will be picked based on the quality, accuracy, insightfulness or possible hilariousness of their responses.
  • The prize is one ticket to the two-day Connect event. Transport and accommodation won’t be provided.
  • If you win, but can’t attend the event, no alternative prize or cash can be offered. So don’t even ask, you cheeky rascal.
  • You can tweet or comment as many times as you like, but you can only win once.
  • The contest isn’t open to employees of Search Engine Watch, ClickZ or Contentive, or their relatives. Sorry mum.
  • No entries sent will be considered after Midnight (EST) Friday 22 January.
  • Winners will be notified on Tuesday 26 January.

Good luck!

from Search Engine Watch https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2441833/competition-time-win-tickets-to-connect-our-two-day-search-event
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International domain structures and SEO: what works best?

Businesses with multiple sites across different countries have a number of decisions to make on how they structure their various sites.

But what are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

In this post we’ll look at the different approaches using selected major corporations to show what type of domain structure strategy they use across their family of international sites.

from Search Engine Watch http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2441003/international-domain-structures-and-seo-what-works-best
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Eight quick and easy user interaction hacks to boost your SEO performance

User experience is increasingly important, and your site must continue to engage and satisfy the user, in order to make their online journey as fulfilling as possible.

from Search Engine Watch http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2440403/eight-quick-and-easy-user-interaction-hacks-to-boost-your-seo-performance
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