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Evergreen Content: What is it? How is it conceived? How is it crafted?
Help me flesh out the subject of evergreen content
Webwork

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 9:43 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Evergreen: Like the name it's "always fresh". It's somewhat timeless. Like great truths, evergreen content has staying power.

Here's some questions I have:

1. How does one know or recognize a subject that is ripe for life evergreen?

2. Are there ways of "knowing everygreen"? Is tech always temporal material? What categories fall on what side of the evergreen aisle?

3. Are there approaches to writing that are transformative, that - with a flip of a POV or writing style - the article moves from ephemoral to evergreen?

What makes evergreen content evergreen and how does one write content that is evergreen?

Would an article about evergreen content be an example of evergreen content: Timeless relevance?

Does the voice and person matter? Is evergreen more formal? Does one "tend to" write evergreen content in other than the first person?

I'm hopeful to whip up a little tutorial by asking some rather broad questions and inviting all manner of replies from the nice array of experience that resides at WW.

 

Travel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 10:08 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a short set of rules that I keep in mind when going for evergreen

No
dates
reference to future or near past
current events
current movies, tv, music, celebrities
reviews (unless of something that has not changes for 20 years)

Yes
seasonal -it will keep coming back
was it popular over 20 years ago?
how tos
things my mother told me
Things in the Encyclopedia

In reading what I consider evergreen- some topics I prefer casual, some formal voice

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 10:58 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good question(s). I'm presuming that you're taking a perspective that is not market specific. If so, an initial, brief, and personal perspective:-

Evergreen: Like the name it's "always fresh". It's somewhat timeless. Like great truths, evergreen content has staying power.

Deciduous would be better. Like the ebb and flow of the tide and the rise and fall of the seasons, so "always fresh" only appears so when it is back in fashion... En vogue.

Here's some questions I have:

1. How does one know or recognize a subject that is ripe for life evergreen?

An "evergreen" has to grow. How high will it grow? Do you know? You don't - apart from with hindsight.

2. Are there ways of "knowing everygreen"? Is tech always temporal material? What categories fall on what side of the evergreen aisle?

Every subject matter in the world has evergreen material - material important to some segment or sector of the population. Steam trains - it has it's "evergreen" content. Kinder egg toys - it has it's "evergreen" content. "Evergreen" content for those that are interested. "Evergreen" as a concept is relative to the audience interested.

3. Are there approaches to writing that are transformative, that - with a flip of a POV or writing style - the article moves from ephemoral to evergreen?

History decides that the perspective, tone and writing style used are retrospectively of merit. Recently - through a post/enquiry I made in Foo (thanks, digitalghost) - I added a book to my collection: "Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World." The text is 150 years old, but still considered authoritative.

Authoritative is one such approach. Another is to take a snapshot of the moment - a snapshot that makes time stand still. It is then captured forever.

What makes evergreen content evergreen and how does one write content that is evergreen?

What makes Plato so "evergreen"? Not because it's "good" specifically, but because certain cultures choose to believe it is of merit. Alternatively, it was the encapsulation of thoughts new. Retrospectively these "thoughts new" become the birth of a school, a philosophy, a belief system.

Would an article about evergreen content be an example of evergreen content: Timeless relevance?

No. See above.

Does the voice and person matter? Is evergreen more formal? Does one "tend to" write evergreen content in other than the first person?

An authoritative, objective, all-seeing, third person (or first person) narrative/perspective seems to work. One that captures the zeitgeist of the day - that snapshot of how things are. Consider the material that you yourself think "evergreen". How is it written?

Alternatively, you could look at the prescience route. But then that's so much like fortune telling - remembered and laughed at through eternity for getting it wrong, or held in spooky, high regard for getting it right.

As I say, initial thoughts.

Syzygy

alika

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 12:35 am on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Oklahoma man caught stealing credit card information" is news; not evergreen. What is true today -- the Oklahoma man stealing -- may not be true tomorrow as an Oklahoma man may not be caught again stealing credit card info.

"10 Ways to Protect Your Credit Card Information" is evergreen because it has a longer shelf life. Its relevance extends not only today but tomorrow.

When we were syndicating our content, we were made to sign a slightly different contract than news providers because our content was evergreen. So instead of a shorter shelf life of the news, users of our content were allowed to use our articles for 30 days.

iamlost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 12:38 am on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good topic - have long considered it - will enjoy reading others thoughts. A quick start:

Are there ways of "knowing everygreen"?

Evergreen = truth.

To use Syzygy's "battles" example: unless a significant error in fact or perception is found the book remains valid.

Similarly, a treatise about Mars written a hundred years ago, describing canals, crops, and probable cities, is now only a curiosity. It lost it's "evergreen-ness" once new truths replaced the old.

That is not to say that anyone is interested now, or will be more or less interested in the future. Just because something is true doesn't make it popular. Just evergreen.

The exceptions to this all devolve to conspiracy theory. Conspiracies real and imagined are forever evergreen. Especially in America.

Is tech always temporal material?

The INTEL 80286 PROGRAMMER'S REFERENCE MANUAL 1987 is online. Technical information may still be evergreen by virtue of still being true but likely few care.

Just because something is true and evergreen does not make it popular or even relevant (except to historians and archivists).

What categories fall on what side of the evergreen aisle?

Something is either true or not. Very binary.

The difficulty is determining popular evergreen topics. Find a blog that has been around for a couple of years. Go back in the archives. Some entries are still valid/evergreen but past their sell-by date. Some entries have been proven wrong by later developments. Others are still as pertinent now as then.

The more general the topic usually the longer it holds: "The Marketing Guide" will likely outlast "How To Market Using Alta-Vista". The past will outlast the present simply because the past is already played out: "The Napoleonic Wars" is likely better long-term than "The Second Iraq War" as facts/perceptions change as information over time plays out - although for immediate traffic and popular interest the converse is true.

This brings up the fluid nature of the web. If I have a page that later facts prove contains inaccuracies I can update by crossing out the old and incorporating the new. Or by pretending I was right all along. The topic can be evergreen and yet change.

Evergreen does not require stagnation.

hunderdown

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 2:53 am on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

One tricky aspect of this. I think you have to know the subject inside and out to have a good sense of what is evergreen and what is compost.

I'm speaking from personal experience. I write on my site about a field with a perennial influx of newbies and wannabes. And what I've learned is that much of the basic information and advice doesn't change much from year to year, if it changes at all. But you have to stay on top of the subject, to know what is still evergreen and what isn't.

Evergreen, in other words, is not a quick study. Much harder to throw up an evergreen content site than a run-of-the-mill content site.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 2:15 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think Alika said it nicely.

One thing I'd add: "Evergreen" doesn't have to mean "never updated." For example, I've got an article on (Widgetville), and just this morning I learned that an historic hotel in Widgetville has gone out of business. That calls for a revision (and I may need to revise the article again if and when the hotel is reopened under new management).

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 4:15 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

You have to start with a cult, a following.

Articles on any subject are only evergreen to the cult following that subject.

There are two key approaches...

Investigate the needs and desires of the cult - provide insight into the objects of these needs and desires. Or, take up a commentary on the cult itself, its needs, desires, its very existence - make observations.

That, I believe, is the starting point.

That made sense in the sauna about an hour ago :-)

Syzygy

b0blee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 9:42 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

One of the things I sell from my web site is a set of 6 magazines dating from 1978 to 1981 or so. The ads have addresses and prices that are long out of date, but the content is truly 'evergreen' for the target audience.

The magazine is called "Steel Guitarist", and its subscribers were pedal steel guitar players. It contains interviews with famous players, tips about techniques and guitar maintenance, etc. Most of the articles are truly timeless. New players literally MUST buy this collection to get a real feel for steel guitar culture.

I'm not sure if anything on the Internet can have the kind of legs that Steel Guitarist magazine has, but the discussions on my forum come close. A searchable archive of steel guitar knowledge that includes some of the best and most famous players in the world covering a span of 6 years (and counting) should be a valuable, 'evergreen' resource. The real problem I have is removing the noise from it. I figure I'll tackle that one in my retirement. :)

[edited by: digitalghost at 3:15 am (utc) on July 20, 2005]
[edit reason] removed URL [/edit]

richardb

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 8:30 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

This reply fits = “I'm hopeful to whip up a little tutorial by asking some rather broad questions and inviting all manner of replies from the nice array of experience that resides at WW.”

No such thing there are rule breakers and rule makers, e.g. in the garden maintenance world we have always been told prune roses a certain way and yet this is toss… the new rule makers say so.

Beagle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 2:21 am on Jul 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Syzygy, wanna talk cults? I run a Tolkien-related site ;-) .

I very much agree with what hunderdown said about newbies and basic information, as well as about staying on top of things. The trick is having the basic information available for the newbies, but also having content with something new to say, in order to keep the "oldbies" interested. This is easier if you're an oldbie member of the cult yourself--which I am. I pretty much know what's been said and what hasn't, so can recognize when I come up with something that will make readers say, "I never thought of it quite like that." Most of the essays I've published this year could have been written 40 years ago (the text I'm writing about hasn't been rewritten) but it simply hadn't been put together in the same way before. And that may say a lot about what makes something evergreen.

I think Syzygy has a point that this kind of thing is only possible to any great extent when there's a permanent group of followers. Along the same line, I believe it would be awfully hard for someone who's not part of the cult to pull off. Even though I'm a great fan of the original Star Trek series, for example, if I tried to write evergreen content about it, the true Trekkers would spot me as an imposter (or at least a wannabe) from thousands of miles away, because I wouldn't know what was evergreen and what wasn't.

As far as the essays/commentaries, newbies and olbies often seem to respond well to the same ones. I do have information on the site, too, along with the essays, and that's more specifically geared toward either newbies or people who've been around awhile. Both groups have their own needs for affiliate product links, too, and that has a big effect on the information I make available and how I present it.

harleyx

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 3:15 am on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Reminds me of the The Art of War. Strategy versus Tactics. Evergreen has a high strategic value.

Tactics change when an environmental variable changes (time, location, weather, equipment, manpower, etc).

-How do you achieve top rankings in G/Y/M?
-What is the best page format for converting visitors into customers?
-Where can I get the best ROI from buying text links?

The answers to these questions change often, sometimes on a weekly/monthly basis.

Strategy is constant. My strategy is to get exposure, convert those viewers into customers, and convert those customers into return customers. Strategy is not subject to environmental changes. It was true 10 years ago, it's true today, and in another 10 years it will still be true.

webweasel

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 5:32 pm on Jul 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

How dose this relate to fresh content issues?

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 2:35 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Webwork, what's your opinion/perspective thus far? You must have further questions to ask on the subject or experiences to share...

Syzygy

ronburk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 5:51 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Oklahoma man caught stealing credit card information" is news; not evergreen. What is true today -- the Oklahoma man stealing -- may not be true tomorrow as an Oklahoma man may not be caught again stealing credit card info.

OTOH, by leaving that news blurb up forever, it gets a few hits a day. Then, perhaps, 3 years from now, I notice it gets a big (relatively speaking) spike in traffic. Upon investigation, I discover that there's a new law in Oklahoma about credit card theft that is affecting small businesses there. So, I quickly make a few pages devoted to that topic and capitalize on a topic that I never would have known was worthwhile if I hadn't created that page that was "news; not evergreen".

I let the search engines tell me what is evergreen. It's often not what I think it should be.

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 10:06 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I let the search engines tell me what is evergreen. It's often not what I think it should be.

I find that interesting both as an observation and a statement. It's added an extra facet to my perspectives on the subject, thanks.

At the same time though it reinforces the thought (in my own mind) that 'evergreen', as I mentioned in an earlier post, is actually 'deciduous', ie, it is 'seasonal'.

This 'season' is not on a fixed cycle though. My own mental imagery has always seen these type of things as a lighthouse of sorts - it shines and lights up things for a period of time but continues sweeping round to illuminate whatever is next in its sights.

Eventually it will come full circle and bring to our attention something that has been hidden in darkness for sometime. When lit up once again it is as if that 'something' had never disappeared from our sights.

I doubt that will make any sense to anyone, but it does to me :-)

Syzygy

meg8

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 1:57 pm on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I like the 'oldbie' 'newbie' classification.

Surely content designed for newbies, as in 'how to do this' is fairly decent evergreen content because even though the way anything is done changes over the years often the very first steps you have to take are pretty much the same, and the first questions you ask as a newbie are also the same. So perhaps little details of your topic will change, but the structure you've hung it on will remain the same.

As far as 'oldbies' are concerned, every community needs its elders, but sometimes this can create an atmosphere that is intimidating for the newbie which can kill the community. I sell specific hobby equipment and so I keep an eye on those communites on the internet, but I don't participate a huge amount, partly because it would be easy for me to slip over into spamming. I think that what is wonderful about the communities is their endless enthusiasm, they are always really pleased when a new person has discovered the delight in waht they do. However, if they start to quote statistics and history then a new person could quickly get turned off, perhaps thinking, I'll never learn all this stuff!

I think in this respect oldbie content that is written for oldbies can be evergreen, but it has to be welcoming, if you are an expert writing for other experts then you need to try and involve people, even the casual passer by who has not even become a newbie yet.

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1478 posted 4:22 pm on Aug 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think "how to" articles are great evergreen content. In most areas (other than rapidly changing tech topics) the "how to" basics don't change much from year to year, and there are always people trying to figure out how to do something for the first time.

One site I work with has topical advice content, i.e., how to deal with sitations in its topic, common questions, etc., and content that has been on the site for four years is still as good as new (and gets lots of views).

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