Most of the time when you write for your blog, you’re probably writing for the moment. Expressing your opinion on some news of the day, reacting to someone else’s blog post, or sharing timely information. And this is all great for keeping a blog fresh and attracting subscribers.
But what about attracting valuable search engine traffic? If you’re visiting a blog from a search engine, you want more meat. And well-written blog posts can be very valuable sources of search engine traffic that can help raise your profile and that of your blog. The trick is to come up with content that has “evergreen” value — in other words it doesn’t become immediately dated shortly after posting. (The term evergreen is often used in business to describe a contract that doesn’t expire; the origin is likely evergreen trees that never lose their leaves, even in winter.)
Evergreen posts will usually be about more substantive topics and are generally longer than typical blog posts. Often, they provide good advice to readers or summarize important issues, market segments, or ideas. I know from watching my own traffic logs that I have successfully written a number of evergreen pieces — some by design and some frankly by accident.
Here are some guidelines to follow when developing evergreen content for your blog:
- Write a descriptive headline. There’s a time and place for ironic or funny headlines, but not with evergreen content. Describe exactly what you’re going to do in the post (as I have done with this one).
- Use phrases that readers will type in search engines. One post I wrote last year continues to generate good traffic because it questioned how a lot of us who are technology entrepreneurs think. But it also used a lot of the terms people search for frequently like Web 2.0 and referenced frequently discussed conferences, events and companies.
- Create a list. Lists generate good traffic in the present as well as the future. My “10 Ways Web 2.0 Promises to Change the Way We Live and Work” keeps on generating traffic today because it references a lot of hot button topics, but more importantly because it simplifies the thinking about what can be a complex topic for many people.
- Answer a burning question. You probably aren’t writing a FAQ, but sometimes you should treat your blog post as a Q&A to give it staying power. My “Are Bloggers Journalists?” post still gets frequent visits because it offers my answer to a question that won’t go away any time soon.
- Build a resource for visitors. My posts about Microsoft’s new operating system, especially the one on podcasting software for Vista, generate steady traffic because there aren’t many resources out there on this subject right now. Directories and “how to” posts can serve as an ongoing tool for people which will help generate search engine traffic and links. More important, it actually provides a useful resource for the community.
Of course, sometimes you just get lucky and a post you had never intended to be evergreen, continues to be so. I found that with my “Read This Before You Interview With Me” post that pops up all the time in my logs. And we’re not hiring that many people that it is just job seekers for my company! Heck, it doesn’t even have much original content in it; rather it seconds many suggestions by Guy Kawasaki and adds a bit to it.
For more on the subject, see here.