Evergreen content vs topical content: What is the difference?

There’s no denying the importance of driving traffic to your website. However, to increase sales, you need to find ways to encourage your visitors to stick around. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

A site packed with useful, engaging and well-written content is more likely to have a reduced bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that leave the site before taking action) than one that doesn’t provide as much value.

With that in mind, your content strategy should include regularly-updated blog posts covering industry news and entertaining insights and have the right mix of topical and evergreen content.

But what is evergreen content? What is topical content? And how do they differ? In this article, we’ll explain the difference between these two types of content and take you through the pros and cons of each one.

While evergreen content is timeless in that it is continually useful and interesting to audiences, topical content consists of current events and becomes less relevant as time goes on.

Some examples of evergreen content include how-to articles, listicles and top tips, whereas news reports or features based on events like Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the football World Cup are classed as topical content.

Continue reading to find out more about topical and evergreen content.

As stated above, evergreen content is useful, interesting content that remains relevant for months or even years after it was published.

This type of content should include keywords and phrases relevant to the search intent, as it can be used to drive traffic to your site. These words should be included in the text naturally and never forced in or used purely for their high search volume.

Unlike topical content, which needs to be regularly updated in order to remain relevant, evergreen content doesn’t need revisiting as often — and in some cases, it doesn’t need to be updated at all.

You can create evergreen content in the form of:

  • Articles that answer FAQs
  • Case studies
  • Instructional guides (how-to articles)
  • Listicles
  • Reviews
  • Top tips 
  • Tutorials

Also known as “seasonal content” or “timely content”, topical content is time-based, meaning it covers current events and newly-discovered information. Because of this, it only remains relevant for a set period. Its ‘shelf-life’ can be extended by regularly reviewing the content and making updates.

 Some examples of topical content include:

  • Current affairs
  • Event-based features on things like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day or sporting tournaments like the football World Cup
  • Industry news stories
  • Sharing yearly trends
  • Time-based features based on specific seasons, such as spring or summer
  • Upcoming product launches

Which type of content brings more traffic to a website is a topic that’s been debated by marketing experts for years. But topical content and evergreen content each play an important role in a successful content marketing strategy.

Evergreen content is best for sustaining a steady flow of traffic to your website, while topical content is best for making the most of momentary traffic spikes. This means you should aim for a balance of both types of content in your marketing strategy. Rather than arguing about which one is better, it’s more about when to publish each type of content.

Before you start brainstorming content ideas, it’s a good idea to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each type of content. This can help you ensure you’re striking the right balance between the two:

Evergreen content: Pros and cons

Pros

  • Stays relevant for longer
  • Can bring a constant stream of fresh traffic to your website
  • Doesn’t need to be regularly updated
  • Can be updated to incorporate industry news and developments
  • Provides considerable value to the reader, especially people looking to learn about your industry
  • Can be repurposed for use on social media
  • Can combine two posts and create long-form media to attract more visitors

Cons

  • Harder to create a sense of urgency, meaning prospective customers are less likely to act quickly
  • Instant engagement is low, so doesn’t generate spikes in traffic
  • Content can be considered too basic
  • Content that’s too advanced will only be relevant to a very small audience
  • New ideas become more difficult as time goes on

Topical content: Pros and cons

Pros

  • Produces instant results
  • Generates lots of attention, blog traffic and social media shares
  • Builds hype and creates a sense of urgency, encouraging potential customers to act quickly
  • Attracts new audiences
  • Quicker and easier to come up with new ideas
  • Seasonal content will become relevant again each year

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide sustained success
  • Becomes outdated over time
  • Higher keyword competition, as your competitors will likely be writing about the same topics
  • Doesn’t guarantee readers will view you as a trusted source and automatically become buyers

When creating articles for the blog section of your website, it’s imperative that everything you publish is factually and grammatically correct and that all your content is as valuable and unique as possible. This is so you can establish yourself as a reliable source and build trust with your readers and increase your organic traffic and domain authority.

The following sections explain how to do this.

Research

This is easier with topical content than it is with evergreen content. 

For topical content, all it takes is a quick review of the latest industry news stories or a glance at a calendar to see whether there are any events coming up that are relevant to your industry. 

With evergreen content, you need to get more creative. The most effective way to come up with ideas for evergreen content is to brainstorm ideas with the rest of your team. That way, you can discuss all the topics that relate to your industry in one go and then break them down into listicles and top tips articles later. It’s also a good idea to go through correspondence with customers to find out the most frequently asked questions so you can either answer all of them in one post or take each one and compile multiple instructional guides. Tools like Semrush and Google's People Also Ask feature can also help with your research and give you inspiration. Semrush enables you to determine which topics and keywords are relevant to your industry, while People Also Ask reveals the questions searchers are asking within a specific topic.

When coming up with ideas for either type of content, you could even visit your competitors’ websites to see what they are writing about. But remember that writing about the same topic means more keyword competition — and you should also be wary of plagiarism.

Be creative

It is important to think outside the box when coming up with content ideas. Try to see everything as a potential opportunity for a blog post. Mother’s Day, for example, may seem irrelevant if you run a hardware store, but it could make sense if you talk about someone finally doing all those little DIY jobs their mother has been asking them to do.

However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that marketing efforts which come across as forced can have a negative impact. Readers who don’t understand the connection between what you are talking about and what you are selling won’t be engaged in your content and will therefore be more likely to leave your site. Additionally, if you publish irrelevant content, search engines like Google will struggle to understand what your website is about, which will affect your ranking and authority.

React to opportunities

When it comes to topical content, it’s true that your competitors are likely to be covering the same stories, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have the potential to drive traffic. This means you should keep up to date with industry news — especially as not reporting on it could make you look out of touch or not as much of an expert as you’d like to be perceived.

Because this type of reactive content can be created quickly, it enables you to publish regularly, which will be conducive to your SEO efforts.

Plan in advance

It goes without saying that a well-thought-out content strategy will succeed more than one thrown together at the last minute. We recommend planning four to six months in advance to ensure that you’re posting about the right things at the right time.

When writing event-based articles, it’s not enough to publish one blog post a week before the event is taking place. Usually, there’s a great deal of build-up and hype surrounding events like the football World Cup and Christmas, so make sure you are capitalising on that and start blogging about the subject a few weeks beforehand.

Utilise tools

You’re not on your own when it comes to deciding what content to post and when to post it. There’s a variety of tools available to help you create content that has the best chance of leading to conversions.

Some of the tools that are most likely to help with your content strategy are:

  • Google AdWords — Allows you to see what queries your target audience is searching for and when they’re searching them
  • Google Trends — Enables you to see when a particular event starts gaining momentum, so you know when to start (and stop) posting about that topic
  • SEMrush — Can be used for keyword research and ranking data
  • Hootsuite — Ensures you can share your content on multiple social media platforms at specific times 
  • Buzzsumo — Allows you to find articles relating to specific keywords and analyses how your own content is performing 
  • Content planning templates — Enable you to plan your long-term content marketing strategy

Update content

Both evergreen and topical content can be updated to keep them current. This is more applicable to topical content, which becomes outdated more quickly, but while evergreen content shouldn’t need as much refreshing, there are times when doing so is essential. For example, any stats you cite should be the most recent ones and product reviews will only be valuable for as long as the product is available. So if an item is permanently out of stock, you will need to make sure any reviews about it are replaced with new ones.

To help you remember to revisit old posts and ensure your site contains only relevant content, you can include these updates in your content strategy. This is particularly useful if you have lots of different types of content, such as social media posts, which can begin to get stale after a week, or topical blog posts, which tend to become old news after a couple of weeks.

It’s also worth noting here that you should update any links that may have expired. As well as being frustrating for the reader, expired links can severely damage your SEO.

While evergreen content is continually useful and interesting to audiences and delivers a steady stream of traffic to a website, topical content produces traffic spikes, as it consists of current events and becomes less relevant as time goes on. Some examples of evergreen content include how-to articles, listicles and top tips, whereas news reports or features based on events like Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the football World Cup are classed as topical content.

Because both types of content provide value in different ways, you should make sure you include the right balance of both in your content marketing strategy. But while it’s completely up to you to decide which type you post more of, every single piece of content needs to be of the highest quality and provide ultimate value to the reader.