Evergreen or Topical Content: Which Is Better?


Both evergreen and topical content are driving forces behind a successful publication. In most cases, you don’t want to choose between the two. Otherwise, your relevance depends on one angle, and that angle probably doesn’t appeal to everyone every day. The key is finding the balance that works for you and your audience.

Work style, target audience, and even the volume of contributing writers all factor into what’s best, and what’s best is tempered by what’s feasible. If you want to know how to use your resources the best way, your balance might be different from what you imagine. If you have a set goal, you might need to tweak your resources to meet it.

SEE ALSO: Expert Interview with Scott Baradell on How You Choose Your Content

Evergreen Content Has a Long Shelf Life

Evergreen content is like the complex carbohydrates that nutrition gurus say everyone needs. It gives the publication steady energy without significant peaks and valleys. The definition of ”evergreen” depends on the publication. What’s timeless to one audience might be trendy to another.

Photocrati recommends helping readers find and connect evergreen content.

It’s a good idea to link your evergreen posts to each other. Someone interested in one diet pill may be interested in others, and someone who wants diet advice so that they can get in shape for the summer may also want to read your article about useful spreadsheets that will streamline their photography business.

The appeal of evergreen content lies in its ability to attract steady readers over the long haul. Its first run might enjoy a brief peak, just because it’s new, but readers still come back time and again because the content gives them something they need today, tomorrow, a month from now, and hopefully next year.

Topical Content Has a Short, Impressive Run

Topical content is like a specialty coffee or energy drink that peaks for a while, then crashes. You need that energy burst, but know that it won’t last. Topical relates to current events, trends, and anything that sparks temporary interest.

Sparksheet says the nature of topical content also makes it sharable:

It is much more likely to be shared and distributed across the social web, and while users flock to Facebook and Twitter to share news and opinions on the world at large, effective newsjackers can sit back and enjoy the spike in traffic.

Topical content doesn’t have the long-term appeal of evergreen, but it’s not supposed to. They are two different animals with different jobs. Consider any media frenzy, such as when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby was born. Everyone had to know, and everyone had to know right now. Once everyone knew, it was back to business as usual.

Finding the Right Balance

It’s not really a contest between evergreen and topical content. There is no good or better, just different. Audience development means you want readers to flock in because you’ve got the latest story about the newest widget. But you also want them to think, ”Hey, I’ll bet I can find the answer at X Magazine.”

You want to be X Magazine.

So the real question is finding the balance that fits your abilities and audience. There is no magic formula. If you can create strong, topical content every day, traffic has a natural driving force every day. Peaks happen frequently, but evergreen content is the safety net that keeps readership from bottoming out when peaks wane.

If you can’t create topical content every day, evergreen determines the normal pulse. Topical becomes the energy shot that quickens the pulse.

It’s all about relevance. Evergreen is long-term relevance, and topical makes you relevant right now. A healthy balance, and a strong publication, has both.

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