Step-by-step guide to creating evergreen content

The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Evergreen Content That Converts

Creating new content regularly can feel like you’re running on a treadmill.

You spend days researching, writing, and editing your heart out.

And when it’s finally published, you realize you’ll have to do it all over again. You’d be surprised how fast a week goes by.How do you make the whole process less painful? How do you make your content last longer and work harder for you?

The answer is: focus on creating evergreen content.

Everwhat?

Evergreen content is content that stays relevant for long periods of time. A post titled “The 20 Best Christmas Decorations of 2017” isn’t going to age well because it’s only relevant for a few weeks and it gets outdated after a year.

But an article titled “How to Set Up a Website Yourself” is going to stay relevant for multiple years.

Why Does it Matter?

Evergreen content gets you waaay more results over time.

time-critical-evergreen-content

(source)

Writing time critical posts keep you on the writing treadmill. With evergreen content, all your hard work stays relevant for years. You’ll be able to spend more time on growing your business instead of brainstorming new posts all the time.

Here’s how to create it:

Step 1: Coming up With Evergreen Content Ideas

To create a solid piece of content that converts, you first have to come up with a killer idea.

Sounds simple, but there’s more to it than just brainstorming a couple of topics and picking the best one. You want to pick a topic with a proven track record.

This can be done in a couple of ways…

Method 1: Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is an awesome tool that lets you see what content has gotten the most amount of shares in the past. You enter a URL, and it’ll list the top performing articles of that site.

If it did well for your competitor, you can be (relatively) sure it’s going to do well for you.

Just go to Buzzsumo and enter a competitor’s URL.

 

Buzzsumo - enter url

After you press “go”, you’ll get a list of your competitor’s best articles. You can sort the articles by social channel as well. So if you only want to see content that as popular on Pinterest, you can.For evergreen content, though, we’re interested in the total amount of shares.Buzzsumo - total sharesBuzzsumo gives us a ton of info about what goes into popular content. It tells us:

  1. What topics have a proven track record
  2. What framework they used to create amazing content
  3. What goes into an amazing article (images, links,…)

Go through a couple of competitors and put any interesting topics into a spreadsheet.

The second method of finding high-quality topics is to look at what’s already being linked to. If it deserves a backlink, it’s probably good enough to create top-notch content around it.

A good tool to use is Moz’s Open Site Explorer(OSE). It allows you to plug in a competitor’s website and check what pages are linked to the most.

Go to Open Site Explorer (You might have to create a free account if you haven’t already).

Add in your competitor’s URL, press “enter” and click on “top pages”.

opensiteexplorer - top pages

You’ll get a list of URLs. Sort them by “Linking Root Domains”. We want to make sure we look at the content that has the most amount of unique domains linking to them.

opensiteexplorer - linking domains

OSE Doesn’t really like giving you the titles of the articles, so you have to open them one by one to see what the article is about.

Look at your competitor’s top 10 articles and put any interesting topics into a spreadsheet.

Method 3: Google Analytics

If you already have a decent amount of traffic, you can check your own analytics to see what type of content is already popular on your site. If your visitor likes what you do, you can create more of it and attract more like-minded people to your site.

Just open Google Analytics and click on Behaviour -> Site Content -> All pages

Google analytics - all pages

This will show you all the pages that are popular on your site. Take a note of all the topics that are popular and what type of framework they use (how to, tools, listicles,…)

Method 4: Mindmapping

If all else fails, use good ol’ brainstorming.

It can give you a good deal of interesting topics, but you have to be cautious not to pick something that has a short shelf life.

Here’s how to create a good mind map:

First, use a tool like Mindmeister or Xmind to organize your ideas.

In the middle, start out with the topic of your blog. This is the high-level activity people want to do. In this case, I’m going to use “build a blog” as an example.

Next, add 3 questions to your mind map:

  1. What do they want to achieve (goals)
  2. What do they want to avoid (fears)
  3. What is keeping them from reaching their goals (obstacles)

mindmap - step 1

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and brainstorm some answers to these questions.

For example…

  1. They might want to get traffic to their website so they can build an email list and start selling products.
  2. They might want to avoid wasting a lot of time writing bad content
  3. They might not know how to set up a blog

mindmap - step 2

The next step is to ask your self two questions:

  1. What steps do they need to take to achieve this goal?
  2. What are some common mistakes people make?

mindmap - step 3

You can repeat the last step over and over again to come up with even more topics.

The final step is to look at the results and see what content you can create around it. Using our mindmap, for example, we can write about:

  • The Top X Traffic Generation Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make
  • The Step-by-Step Guide to Promoting Your Content in Facebook Groups
  • Do You Need a Giant Budget to Build a Blog?

All of these articles stay relevant for a good couple of years.

Step 2: Find a Good Keyword

Finding awesome topics is great, but if you can’t find a good keyword to complement it your site isn’t going anywhere.

SEO is daunting, but you need it if you want your articles to keep bringing in results year after year.

Here’s how to find an awesome keyword for your content.

Google Keyword Planner

While Google’s keyword Planner is one of the best free alternatives, it isn’t ideal. It’s glitchy and it doesn’t show precise keyword volume anymore.

But it works. Here’s how to use it.

First, open Google Keyword Planner and click on “search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category”.

keyword planner - step 1

Next, enter the topic that you’ve found in step one. To get better keywords, brainstorm search terms people might use.

If you want a more in-depth tutorial on how to find good keywords, I suggest taking a look at this guide.

keyword planner - get ideas

Sort the results by “Avg. Monthly Searches” and look for keywords that are interesting.

Note: Broad search terms might look good because they get a lot of traffic, but they’re going to be hard to rank for.

You want to find keywords that have a decent amount of traffic, but that aren’t impossible to rank for. Usually these are medium tail keywords that you find in the middle of the search results.

keyword planner - medium tail keyword

KwFinder

A good alternative to Google’s Keyword planner is Mangools Kwfinder. It’s fast, has a better UI, and gives you more data than Google’s tool.

To find good keywords, go to KWFinder and put in your topic.

KWFinder - enter keyword

Instead of just regular suggestions, you can use its autocomplete feature to come up with additional keywords you might not have thought of. Similarly, the ‘questions’ option will come up with a bunch of questions related to your topic.

KWFinder - search results

Once you search for your topic, KWfinder will give you a list of keywords related to your topic. It also tells you:

  • If there’s a trend (Is search volume going up or down?)
  • How difficult is it to rank for that keyword?

Take these metrics with a grain of salt, though.

KWFinder - Competition

On the right side of the screen, it will tell you how strong your competition is. It checks the first 10 results and gives you back valuable info. It shows you:

  1. This indicates how difficult it is to rank for this keyword.
  2. This shows the number of links other articles have.
  3. Show you how strong each individual result is.

Step 3: Find What Needs to Be Included

The next step is to go out and look at what’s already out there. In order to create a good piece of evergreen content, you need to create a complete article. Your piece should be one of the best – if not THE best – article on the subject.

The only way you can create the best is to study your competition first. Here’s how.

Check Google

If it’s on the front page of Google, it means Google thinks it’s good enough to be displayed on the front page. You want to check out all the articles that are ranking for the keyword that you found and check:

  • How long the content is.
  • How many images it has.
  • If it’s linking to a ton of external content.
  • What type of content it is (infographic, long form,…).

Check Quora

Quora is a place where people ask questions about a certain topic. If you find a question that sounds interesting, you can answer it in your article.

To find out what questions people are asking, go to Quora and type in your keyword.

quora - search questions

Next, Click on the ‘questions’ tab in the left column. This will give you all the questions that are being asked about your topic.

Pay attention to the number of followers each question has. The more followers, the more important it is for you to answer.

quora - search results

Check Buzzsumo

Just like we used Buzzsumo to find out our topic. We can use it to figure out what content is already out there.

Type in your keyword and open up the first 10 – 20 results. Each of these articles has a ton of shares, so there must be something about them. Pay attention to:

  • Subheads (What are they talking about?)
  • Images (What type? How many?)
  • Research
  • Links (Who are they linking to?)
  • Gaps (What is missing from the content?)

Check Answerthepublic

Answerthepublic is a nifty tool that allows you to see what questions are being asked about your topic. It’s different from Quora in that Answerthepublic takes its results from Google. It’s not some sort of forum, and it doesn’t give you any answers, it just gives you a list of questions.

That said, it’s pretty baller.

Go to answerthepublic and type in your keyword. Don’t mind the dude staring into your soul.

Answerthepublic - enter keyword

The tool will go out and find questions related to your topic. In this example, I used “content marketing” as my keyword.

If you have a remotely popular search term, you’ll get a tooon of different questions you can answer. Pick out the best/ most interesting ones and use your content to answer those questions.

Answerthepublic - results

Step 4: Create a Solid Outline

After you’ve done your initial research, you might be tempted to start writing immediately. But I can tell you from experience that’s an incredibly bad strategy.

If you start without a clear idea of where you want to go, your article won’t have the focus and specificity it needs to stand out.

Outlines take some time to create, sure. But in the end, they save you a lot of time and frustration because you’re less likely to get stuck.

An outline doesn’t have to be very complicated or detailed. In fact, you can just write down a couple of words for each section and be done with it.

The goal of an outline is to help you think through the article and give you some idea of where you want to go. Here’s the outline for this article.

atompilot - outline

Important note: write your outline in plain English. Don’t try to stuff it with buzzwords or try to sound smart. Keep it as simple as possible (more on that in the next step).

Step 5: Write the Thing

Now that we’ve created an outline, it’s time to actually write the thing. For some, this can be the most painful part of the process, so here are a couple of tips to make it easier for you.

Write a shitty first draft

When I started writing, one of the mistakes I was making was that I tried to write a finished article from the get-go. I’d write something, delete it, and write it again until it was finished.

This decimates your productivity, causes writer’s block, and frankly, it makes writing feel like passing kidney stones. #omgmakeitstop

The goal of a shitty first draft is to get as many words on the page as possible. You don’t care about typos, you don’t care about grammar, you don’t care if you sound like an idiot or not.

Just. Keep. Writing.

Set a clear deadline

Ever heard of Parkinson’s law? This law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

In other words: if you budget 10 hours, it’s going to take 10 hours. If you budget 5 hours, it’s going to take 5 hours.

This applies to writing as well. If you don’t set yourself a clear deadline, it’s going to take ages for an article to get finished. And the longer it takes to finish, the more unpleasant it becomes to do. Trust me.

Write in bursts

The idea of having to spend 15 hours writing a piece of content can be daunting. At least, it is for me.

I’ve found that writing in bursts helps with the feeling of overwhelm. You set a timer for 50 minutes, and you start putting words on the page.

After those 50 minutes are up, you get up, walk around a little, and get yourself something to drink.

You can just use the timer on your phone, but if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like Snaptimer to help you stay on track.

Follow the outline, but don’t follow the outline

In the last step, we fleshed out our article so we know what we’re going to talk about.

It helps us stay on track.

That said, the outline isn’t a god. If you think about something that’s important, include it. If you think a point is kind of lame, remove it.

Even though you’ve created a guide for yourself, it’s still a guide, not a law.

Plain English > Fancy Buzzwords

No amount of buzzwords is going to make a bad sentence good.

The idea behind writing an article is to help the other person achieve a goal. Either they learn something, they figure out how to do something, or it’s just entertaining. Buzzwords make it hard for your reader to do any of these. They just hinder the communication.

You can sprinkle glitter all over a turd, but in the end it’s still a piece of shit.

Step 6: Edit, Edit, Edit

A lot of people think they’re done when the article is written, but in reality, editing is the most important part.

Editing can turn a “meh” article into a hard-hitting piece of content.

Add images

Images break up your content and prevent the ‘wall of text’ problem. It supports what you’re saying, makes your content more fun to look at, and makes it more valuable.

You can easily take screenshots using a tool like Greenshot or Lightshot.

lightshot

Wikipedia does this brilliantly. You start reading a Wikipedia entry about ice cream and before you know it 2 hours have gone by and you’re reading some random article about Isaac of Armenia.

By linking to other interesting content, you’re making your own work more valuable. It doesn’t have to be to content on other sites either. If you have a good piece of content that’s good further reading you can just link to that.

Make it specific

The majority of articles around the web are super high-level. Meaning that if you read something about “5 Social Media Tips to Get More Traffic”, you’re going to get advice like “make sure the headline’s good”.

Oh geez, thanks.

Good content is specific. It tells you the exact steps, it gives you scripts, it gives you specific examples of what you’re talking about.

It’s a lot harder to create, but it’s worth it.

Make it emotional

Emotional content gets results. It moves people and it makes their boring day a little bit better. It doesn’t have to be a sob story either. If you can unlock an emotion inside your reader, you’re golden.

problogger jon morrow

‘Viral’ clickbait sites, for example, ramp up the emotions to the extreme. You can’t help but click the articles because they’ve piqued you’re curiosity.

You can make your content more emotional by:

  • Adding power words
  • Adding images
  • Using strong verbs
  • Adding open loops

Read it out loud

When you read a piece of text, you use sub-vocalization or silent speech to say the words ‘out loud’ in your head. This makes it easier for your brain to understand what you’re reading.

That also means your content must sound good. If it doesn’t, you run the risk of writing sentences that look good on paper(or screen, i guess), but cause people to stumble.

So whenever you’re writing something, read it out loud. If you have to start a sentence over, rewrite it. If you stumble over a couple of words, rewrite them. If you have to check the previous paragraph to see what it was all about again, rewrite it.

Easy reading is hard writing, but your reader will thank you for it.

Spend a ton of time on the intro and outro

I hate to break it to you, but not everyone reads your articles from start to finish. In fact, a lot of people don’t read more than your intro and outro.

Those two elements are, besides the headline, the most important elements of your content. If the intro sucks, you can’t get them hooked and you’ll lose them.

If your outro sucks, your call to action isn’t going to be very effective and your results aren’t going to be as good.

This is supported by a psychological principle called the serial positioning effect. In short, serial positioning means people are more likely to remember the first and last items from a list. The first because it’s first and gets the most attention. The last because it’s the most recent thing they saw.

Serial Positioning graph

Your content is the same. People read the intro, skim the middle, and read the conclusion.

So make those sections count.

Step 7: Optimize It for SEO

To get the most out of our hard work, we’re going to optimize it so we have a good chance of ranking in Google. This means using our keyword in things like:

  • The title tag
  • URL
  • H1 tag
  • Images descriptions
  • First 100 words of your content

If you really want to learn more about how to optimize your page to get the most ranking out of it, I suggest you read Brian Dean’s On page SEO guide

backlinko on page seo infographic

Step 8: Add an Awesome Content Upgrade

Content in and of itself can be a powerful tool for your business. But where it really shines is when you link it to another powerful marketing channel: email.

The biggest benefit of converting people to email is you’re building your own private traffic source.

You don’t have to rely on 3rd party publications. You don’t have to worry about where the next visitor is coming from. You don’t have to worry about Facebook’s algorithm.

Nope, you build your own traffic channel and the next time you send something, it’ll get a bunch of traffic right away.

Now normally, people use a very broad lead magnet to ask visitors for their email. The problem with that is your lead magnet can be completely unrelated to your content.

A content upgrade is a perfect alternative to a generic lead magnet. With an upgrade, you’re giving away a PDF, cheat sheet, or something valuable that’s closely related to what you talked about in your article.

*Cough* Kind of like the checklist I added to this post *Cough*

In order to create a good content upgrade, you have to ask yourself: what’s the next problem people have when they read my article? How can I make it easier for them to get good results?

Step 9: Promote

You thought we were done, didn’t you?

Not yet.

After we write our post, edit it, and optimized it, we need to promote it as well.

Writing an article without promoting it is like folding a paper airplane and leaving it on your desk. That shit ain’t gonna fly.

Your content can be amazing, but if nobody reads it, it doesn’t matter.

Now, there are a couple of ways you can promote your content and get it in front of the right people.

Outreach

Outreach is the most straightforward method of promoting your content. You get a list of names and you send them an email telling them you have a new article.

Obviously, you want to dress it up a bit and not just tell them “yo bro I’ve got a new article”.

Here’s a script you can use. Make sure to customize it, though.

Hey [name],

I was poking around [blog] and came across the ‘[specific post]’ article.

Great stuff! I love [topic].

In fact, it inspired me to create a more thorough ‘[topic]’ guide:

[Title and link to your post]

I’d be overjoyed if you’d consider mentioning it to your followers.

Either way, keep up the awesome work with [blog]!

Cheers, You name

Not everyone is going to share it with their followers (or even reply to your email). But when they do, it can get your traffic going.

Outreach email

Communities

Question. What’s the best way to promote a piece of content?

Wait until you’ve built an audience yourself, or use other people’s audiences to promote your content?

You guessed it, the answer is B.

If you try to build your audience first you’re going to end up with the chicken and egg problem. You need an audience to spread your content, and you need to spread your content in order to get an audience.

When you promote to communities, you skip this problem and you get straight to the audience building part.

They’re also great for building up some street cred. If you give them useful tips, they’ll start to recognize your name.

Facebook communities

Rinse, Repeat

Creating good content takes time and energy. You have to plan, research, and execute strategically if you want your content to be remembered.

If you do it right, your content will bring in results for years to come. It doesn’t have to feel like you’re running on a treadmill and have to come up with something new all the time. You can create content that works, optimize it, and reap the rewards.

Now, this guide gave you the exact steps you need to do to create evergreen content, if you want to make sure your content is up to par, download this checklist so you can make sure all of your content is top notch.

Now go create some awesome content.

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