We repeat it frequently, as if it was a mantra: knowing the dynamics of the web allows us to “make the right traffic, for the right users, at the right time”. This is what it means for us to work strategically and in SEO perspective in every aspect of the management of the site, and in particular in the editorial planning that can help us set up the creation of content that conquers readers and Google.
In this sense, it is important to take a step back and go back to the basics of SEO copywriting to know what are the types of articles on which to focus our attention and reaffirm the value of evergreen contents, that can become the pillars on which the organic traffic of our site is based.
How traffic from Google works
An important aspect in setting up an editorial plan, often overlooked, is having the basic know-how on how traffic from search engines works.
If in classical media such as television the audience of a channel depends mainly on its schedule – and therefore on the interest that the programs broadcast arouse in people – and it may be enough to introduce new shows to increase it, intercepting new tastes of the public, for the Web the situation is slightly different.
The number values of the potential audience we can aspire to know them upstream: are the data of the volume of searches for the keywords we are working on, that tell us that if we can position ourselves on search engines with those specific keys, we can reach the audience we are interested in.
Knowing the interests of the web audience
At this point, however, we must also understand what are the factors that regulate the interest of the “people of the Web” and guide its readings. In principle, we can distinguish three types of subjects, in which we can insert (sometimes also in a transversal way) the contents we produce.
- Evergreen. As the term suggests, they are topics that never lose interest and maintain a constant involvement of the public during the months of the year and even for more years.
They give life to articles that we can consider the pillars of our organic traffic, because they focus on keywords that are not subject to large variations in the volume of searches over time. If we manage to rank thanks to many aspects of the topic, we are sure to have laid the foundations for our website: whatever happens to other types of content, such as news or passing articles, We will always have the strong shoulders of a group of evergreens that support the minimum traffic of the site.
To intercept these topics we can produce content such as tutorials, in-depth guides, expert interviews, case studies, which are all kinds of these evergreen articles: doing good on Google with this content means putting stable bricks to the growth of our website in the long term.
- Hype. Sudden interest in a recent event.
Search engines and SEO tools cannot predict the organic traffic that one could get by writing a topical article. Therefore, when we write an article riding the wave of hype, a.k. the typical news, we do not know what we could get in terms of visits from search engines nor how long they will continue: the only certainty is that at best it will not last long.
Contents such as news and flash do not do much for SEO, but they are rather meant for momentary and instant traffic to the site, to take no holes compared to competitors, to fit into a topic that generates a hype destined to wane, to take advantage of the new channel Google Discover, which favours precisely these items and which can lead to high traffic peaks that then quickly fade. These are articles that have a shorter life, created for faster consumption, which can lead to a peak of visits in the immediate but that in the following days must be replaced by other content to attract new readings.
All editorial websites that write only news do not have a stable and lasting ranking, and must always run after the latest news, unless they have a good mixed strategy, alternating fresh and fast-consuming topics with insights intended to last.
- Seasonal recurrences. These are topics, objects, holidays that occur in specific months and may arouse interest in the public for more or less long periods, but always recurring year after year.
These topics are called seasonal and we are able to know beforehand how many people will search search search engines for information about it, when they start to do so and for how long they will.
In some periods, months or in occasion of particular events and, rightly, recurrences it is easy to notice increments or drops of interest towards determined keywords, that translate in increases or decreases of visits to the situated site for such keywords.
It may seem trivial to explain it, but users search for certain topics only (or predominantly) at certain times and months of the year, and understanding the seasonality allows us to improve our performance and to work in advance to develop an appropriate strategy to seize the moment and attract the public at the appropriate time.
What are the evergreen contents
With the premise of this piece of information, it is easy to guess that for the SEO it serves above all to know and to master the evergreen contents, that they regard arguments will never pass of fashion because relative to themes and interests always constant in the time.
Evergreens are articles that last “forever”, and if they are quality they can bring good ranking, organic traffic, follow up and even natural links in an ongoing way. In addition to this, paying attention to creating good evergreen content also means saving time and energy: once published, will be relevant for years and will only need any corrective action to refresh them and make them still accurate and interesting.
Understanding the difference between evergreen contents and topics
In order for us to achieve an optimal result we must therefore know which are the evergreen topics and then succeed in writing a quality evergreen content: what does this distinction mean?
As we said, evergreen topics are the topics that people will always be interested in: regardless of how the world changes, there are topics that will always be researched, such as health information, methods to maintain physical fitness, sources of income and so on. We also confirmed this during the lockdown phase: despite everything, our Covid-19 impact study showed that there were some topics that kept their interest “regardless”, or that saw their research volume grow.
The evergreen content is what focuses on an evergreen topic without becoming obsolete, using a key that solicits the interest of an ever-new audience: the guides to “how to do” something, a list of “N. things to do/not to do” to achieve a goal and so on, which start from an evergreen topic and make it “universal” in time and research, and which offer an added value that the public cannot find anywhere else.
Updating evergreen contents to mantain traffic
As we said, an evergreen article can be an important source of prolonged traffic, but nothing is really 100 percent evergreen and lasts forever because much of the world is constantly evolving, and – most of all – the Web never stops (and Google neither!).
The resurfacing of new discoveries and strategies, algorithmic changes of Google, transformations of the search intent can all be causes that make obsolete even an evergreen article and that we must be able to intercept in a timely manner so as not to lose positions and traffic, seeing the pillars of our site collapse.
Generally, when the content is valid, small updates and changes are enough to make them relevant again: we can update the data and statistics in the text at the current date, check if the links still work, add paragraphs or delete those that have become superfluous. Readers – and Google – cannot stand to read “old” and no longer current news, and that is the mistake we do not have to make with our evergreens.
The search intent factor
In this context, knowing and satisfying the search intent is crucial to say the least: as we know, the search intent is the reason behind every online search.
When a person types or expresses keyword entries in the Google search bar he is looking for something and our job is to meet that need.
Obviously, this intent can change over time, but thanks to tools such as our search intent tool we can check that the contents are always directed to current public research intentions.
The arrival of competitors
Another element not to be neglected is obviously the arrival of new competitors or the improvement of the old ones: when an opponent overcomes us, We must first ask ourselves why the overtaking took place and understand what are the reasons that prompted Google to reward that page in place of our own.
We need to understand what are the “secrets” of that content – if it is better written, it better intercepts the search intent, offers more up-to-date or targeted information etc – but also what are the possible weaknesses, and then analyze our own content so to understand what to improve and how, also starting from an analysis of the intent gap.
The word count myth for the SEO
When it comes to evergreen and pillar contents, we often risk starting from an illusory concept: word count. The first question we ask ourselves must not be “how many words the article must be”, as it is not this factor that determines the quality, or at least it is not the first element to take care of.
There is no ideal word count for SEO, because Google does not rely on the number of words present to identify a page as authoritative. There certainly are studies that relate ranking to the number of words, but this is a wrong reading of the data provided.
What is suggested is not that it takes that many words to reach the first positions, but that all the well-ranking results have written contents of a certain average length: it is a matter of correlation and not causality.
How to evaluate the content’s length
In the Google SEO Introductory Guide, it is made clear that “contents must indeed be accurate, clearly written, exhaustive and easy to follow”. No reference to word counting, which therefore cannot be a decisive factor alone, and it could not be otherwise: trivially, the length of the article depends on many elements, starting with the type of topic and the requests/expectations of readers.
Exhaustive does not necessarily mean long, but “complete and that includes everything that is needed”: then, the copy must be sufficiently extended to cover everything that a user might want to know in response to his query. But we must not exaggerate, because “too long” and “too short” are likewise errors.
Writing an article of the right length
The SEO tools help us to roughly understand what are the average lengths of the articles already placed for the keywords we are working on, they give us a track to follow. But what makes the difference is the purpose of the copy (citing another term we often use), the information it must contain and the audience it addresses.
An article must be written and published to help the human visitor, not a search bot: therefore, its length must be sufficient to help the user to achieve their goals on the page, whether it is a matter of quickly obtaining the answer to a question, receiving an in-depth explanation of a subject or simply transmitting the specifications of a product.
We repeat this: there is no fixed number of words that gives the guarantee of obtaining a first page ranking on Google, because search engines rank higher the pages that best meet the query of a user and rarely the “words volume” is a decisive factor for users.
Much more important are the quality of the content and the ability to answer the question, and it is these that can determine the actual usefulness of the page and possibly influence the conversion.