Friday, March 16, 2018

6 common international SEO fails and how to avoid them

If you already run an international website or have international expansion on your road map, there are several common SEO issues which can hold back your success.

In this article we’ll look at six international SEO mistakes that you could be making, to help you look out for and avoid them on your site.


One mistake we see with people taking their first step into an international market is not considering the current domain they have.

If you have a domain name, for example, you will need to consider getting a new domain for each market you go into, as a won’t perform as well in international search engines as it is a UK-focused ccTLD.

IP serving

This is something which, from a development point of view, sounds like the perfect fix. Automatically redirecting people to the correct international version of your website based on their IP address, and so location, does sound really useful.

In its truest form, IP serving cannot be overwritten and a user in a specific country will always be redirected to the site for that country. There are, however, a number of reasons why this isn’t always the right approach to take.

Firstly, you can’t assume that all users in a particular location are from that country. If your IP serving can’t be overwritten by a user, this will mean that anyone in a particular country will be forced to use the site in that language/currency, which doesn’t then take into consideration someone who is travelling or not native to the country in question. This isn’t a great user experience.

The second issue of IP serving is that it will affect your SEO, as search engines aren’t able to crawl your site from every country you may cover. As a result, you will find that your international sites won’t perform as well in the search engines as you would expect.

On many occasions I’ve seen websites with IP serving being used which have real issues in their visibility, with the wrong website appearing in the search results. Google in particular, has real issues with this and I’ve seen local and US sites swapping in the search results on a weekly basis.

I’ve also seen brands who use IP serving, having to buy local language ads in a market to make up for the fact that their local language site doesn’t show up in the search results.

Below is an example of the US Calvin Klein website showing as the top search result for a brand search in Sweden. This is because they use IP serving, and Google is following this to the US site only.

Assuming English is OK

Another big issue for people taking the first steps into an international market is assuming English is OK for certain markets. Common assumptions in this area include assuming that English is OK for the Scandinavian countries, because they all speak English right?

Depending on what the purpose of your website is, this approach might not work. For example, B2B brands looking to encourage people to make a large financial commitment, or high-end retailers, might want to avoid doing this. Generally, the more people are spending the more they will want to see content in their own language, they are investing in you, so you should invest in them.

The other issue with this assumption is that the users in your international markets are more likely to be searching in their local language and not in English, so even if they are comfortable purchasing from you in English, they might not find your site as they will be searching for your products or services in their local language.

Automatic translation

Moving on from using English, some people think the easiest way to implement translation on a website is to use some form of automated translation tool. This is not recommended.

Firstly, these translations, while often dictionary perfect, don’t necessarily reflect how people in any given market speak, they may also miss the nuances of search behavior which could result in you losing out on using words on your website which potential customers are using.

For example, the dictionary correct German word for tickets (such as attraction tickets) is ‘Karten’ but we find there is often more search volume around this topic using the English word ‘Ticket’ in the German market.

Another note on Google Translate as a plugin on your site; although the Google translate tool is super useful it doesn’t change anything on your website which Google the search engine will see.

This means that the translated content it creates in every possible language, isn’t indexed in Google’s results and so does not help you to become findable in the search results when someone searches for you in Brazilian Portuguese, for example.

Getting the language wrong

This is the worst-case scenario, and thankfully something I’ve only seen a handful of times to it’s worst extent. This is the process of completely missing the language you should be using.

A few years back I was reviewing a website which was looking to promote its business into Hong Kong. The website was well put together, and all their SEO was in place and working well. The images were showing local people and the content was all in Chinese.

The issue was that the content was all in Simplified Chinese. Simplified Chinese is used in mainland China. For Hong Kong, the target market of this website, the language should have been Traditional Chinese.

Smaller less dramatic examples of this are forgetting that sometimes users are separated by a common language. Everyone knows the trite “differences” between English for the US and the UK (use of S or Z in some words and whether or not there is a U present in other words).

There are other differences which you need to be aware of depending on the products you are selling.  For example, Egg Plants vs Aubergines and Football vs Soccer.

Hreflang tags

This is one of the biggest areas where people experience problems with their international website strategy. In fact, John Mueller from Google said in February that Hreflang tags are hard!

I’ve seen some humorous attempts at getting the tags right in my time, including people making up countries (Arabia for example) or trying to target an English language .eu domain to every country in Europe with something like 23 individual tags!

There are number of things to watch out for with these tags, mainly around making sure you format the code correctly, don’t make up language and country combinations and that you aren’t linking through to pages which are different from those in your canonical tag, or broken pages!

These are just some of the biggest fails I’ve seen over the years, but hopefully enough to give you a clue as to what you should be avoiding with your website.

Like all SEO, when going international it’s important to make sure that things are right from day one but to keep an eye on things to make sure no issues creep in over time. Your international websites can help your brand grow and get more business, but only if they are set up correctly and nurtured.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

7 Google Tag Manager courses to prioritize in 2018

If you love data (and what marketing expert doesn’t?), then learning Google Tag Manager should be high on your priority list this year.

Unfortunately, many spend so much time on Google Analytics that GTM gets pushed to the wayside. Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a powerful, versatile tool that helps you track and manage your own website data.

Since understanding analytics is increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, there’s no better time to start learning GTM than right now.

So what exactly does Google Tag Manager do for you? In a nutshell, this tool lets you easily add snippets of code called tags to your site. These tags track things your visitors do.

For instance, you could set up tags to track how many people download a specific file, which channels bring visitors to your site, and even how quickly visitors scroll through your pages. The tags then send your information to your third-party sites of choice, such as Google Analytics or Bing Ads.

The GTM web interface is easy to use and requires no in-depth coding skills, so you can stay on top of your tracking without relying on your web developer to do everything for you.

Getting started with Google Tag Manager isn’t always an intuitive process. You’ll probably want to seek out some training instead of trying to figure things out as you go.

Whether you’re brand-new to this tool or you have some basic knowledge about it already, here are seven courses that will help you get the hang of GTM and take charge of your data.

1. The 2018 Google Analytics Bootcamp on Udemy

If you’re not sure where to start learning GTM, the 2018 Google Analytics Bootcamp on Udemy is a great place to begin. I’ve found that this course is unique among the many other Google Analytics courses out there because it doesn’t just teach you the basics of Google Analytics – it also shows you how to combine that tool with Google Tag Manager.

GTM is essential for making the most of Google Analytics, yet many marketers don’t learn it until long after they’ve mastered the GA basics. Learning both together is a smart way to ensure you make quick progress right out of the gate.

The 2018 Google Analytics Bootcamp on Udemy will get you up to speed with both Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager

If you know a little bit about Google Analytics already, but you want to start getting more out of it, you will most likely find this course helpful. You’ll learn how to set up a Google Analytics property the right way, read and understand reports, and track different kinds of data using Google Tag Manager.

If you’re an intermediate-level marketer, some of this course’s Google Analytics information may be familiar to you already, but it’s still a great introduction to GTM.

I was able to get this course during a Udemy sale for less than the original cost, and with the course you’ll get lifetime access to three hours of instructional videos, several supplemental resources, and a certificate of completion.

Udemy has frequent sales, so if this price is a little steep for you now, keep an eye on the course – you may be able to snag it at a discount later.

2. Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course by Google

If you’re just getting started with Google Tag Manager, why not go straight to the source for information?

Google’s own course provides a solid and comprehensive overview of using GTM. And like Google’s other analytics courses, this course is free. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably want to combine this course with at least one other.

This will ensure you get a well-rounded perspective on GTM.

After you finish the Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course, you can brush up on your skills with some of Google’s other free courses

3. Google Tag Manager Essential Training on

If you’ve ever browsed through’s extensive library of tech-related videos, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that they offer a Google Tag Manager course.

This course is just over two hours long and provides an overview of the most important aspects of using GTM, from creating containers to understanding the data layer.

Google Tag Manager Essential Training on

If you don’t already have a subscription, prices start at $25/month. You may also be able to get free access to the site through your workplace, school, or public library.

4. Google Tag Manager YouTube Series by Weboq

YouTube can be a great place to learn about almost anything, including Google Tag Manager.

If you’re a beginner or intermediate-level marketer, you may find Weboq’s GTM playlist very useful, even though it’s not a course per se. This playlist starts with the basics and tackles more complex topics later on.

If you want to learn to do something specific with GTM – like installing Hotjar or remarketing with AdWords, for instance – you’ll find plenty of specific, step-by-step how-tos here.

Weboq’s Google Tag Manager YouTube playlist starts with the basics

5. Google Tag Manager Tutorials on YouTube by Measureschool

Measureschool’s channel is another good resource for learning about Google Tag Manager on YouTube. There’s a lot of content here, directed towards a wide range of skill levels – beginners as well as advanced users will be able to find something helpful.

This channel is updated with new videos regularly, so if you like the material, check back for fresh GTM tips and tutorials every week or two.

Measureschool publishes new Google Tag Manager tutorials on YouTube regularly

6. Master the Fundamentals of Google Tag Manager by CXL

This results-oriented course, led by marketing expert Chris Mercer, is designed to take you from beginner to proficient in GTM in just eight classes.

Starting from the very first class, which walks you through setting up a tag, you’ll practice essential hands-on GTM skills. This course also gives you access to 10 video lessons that explain the more conceptual side of GTM, such as understanding what tags, triggers, and variables are.

After you finish the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion. This course is on the pricey side at $299, but if you’re motivated and want to see results ASAP, it may be worth the cost.

CXL’s beginner-level Google Tag Manager course will get you up and running in eight classes

7. Google Tag Manager Workshop by LunaMetrics

Online classes are convenient and accessible, but sometimes, the ability to ask questions and discuss new concepts in person is priceless.

If you learn best in a real-life classroom environment, LunaMetrics’ in-person GTM training sessions might be ideal for you. These day-long workshops are offered in major cities across the U.S., from Los Angeles to Boston.

Cities where LunaMetrics holds training sessions for Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and more. Source

Prices start at $799 for a one-day workshop. While this isn’t a cheap way to learn Google Tag Manager, keep in mind that you’re also getting a unique opportunity to network with other marketers and collaborate while you learn – something that’s hard to replicate over the internet.

Wrapping up

Google Tag Manager is a must-have tool for every marketer and data-savvy webmaster out there. While it has a bit of a learning curve, GTM opens up tons of possibilities for tracking and improving your site’s performance, so it’s well worth putting in the time and effort to learn how to use it.

Which of these Google Tag Manager courses are you going to focus on this year?


Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for No Risk SEO, an all-in-one reporting platform for agencies. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out her content services at

Experts agree: Social media is ineffective in local link building

As anyone who’s tried to develop links to a local business will know, the link building game for local SEO is a very different beast to standard link building.

For a start, Domain Authority isn’t as critical as local relevance. Then there’s the realization that nofollow links are actually fine and really do count towards brand awareness.

When working on local link building, you notice that the biggest successes can be achieved by establishing connections in the local community; something that has the added, knock-on effect of improving how the local business looks in the eyes of the community.

These are things that are tried and tested, but now also verified in BrightLocal’s latest survey of local SEO experts on link building. The company asked 20 leading lights in the local SEO industry which local link building tactics worked for them, along with a host of other questions designed to give the wider industry an insight into best practices.

Links in social profiles count for nothing, nada, zip, zilch

(Respondents were allowed to pick their top three link sources)

A lot of what was found reinforces reasonably common knowledge. For example, it was unanimously agreed that links from social profiles don’t count a jot towards search rankings (see above).

Here we can see that the most active and regularly updated community and news sites are seen as the most valuable by the panel of experts. High domain authority sites are obviously helpful but it’s clear that this element isn’t as important to rankings as local relevance.

Although links from citation sites weren’t seen as particularly important to rankings, it’s worth noting that accurate citations are very much a ‘table stakes’, foundational element of local SEO. The links might not count as much toward rankings as they used to, but for reach, awareness, visibility, and getting into the places people look for local businesses, they’re still critical.

Among the reinforcement of common knowledge, there were also several surprises in the survey results. For me, personally, the biggest shock came from seeing how little these experts valued social media in the outreach process.

Don’t share, care

Here’s where things get really interesting. As you can see above, 60% of the panel of 20 experts agreed that sharing on social media is ‘not very valuable’ when trying to build backlinks to local business sites.

This comes as a bit of a surprise, as social media is now one of the key ways that content creators and PR people can get their work into the hands of influencers in the local community, so I would imagine this would work as a tactic for local link building.

After seeing these results, though, I’ve reconsidered my position. This is again an area where local link building differs from standard link building, and it’s all down to the people you’re trying to get links from.

With non-local link building, you can generally assume that the people you’re trying to connect with will view social media as as relevant a communications channel as networking or email.

However, if you’re trying to build links to a local business, the sorts of places you’ll be trying to get links from (smaller, community websites, church groups, local charities) are more likely to be a bit ‘old-school’ and prefer a knock on the door, an in-person meeting, a phone call or an email over the more impersonal use of social media.

Instead, you can see above that that sponsoring charities and organizations is considered the number one strategy for local link building. So the takeaway is simple: don’t share, care.

Want to succeed with local link building outreach? Go old-school

(Respondents were allowed to pick their top three link sources)

The assumption that local community sites prefer non-social forms of contact is firmly backed up by what the local SEO experts said were the most effective forms of link building outreach. As you can see above, relatively few felt that Twitter and LinkedIn outreach was effective, and Facebook outreach was an absolute non-starter.

Instead, the survey found that short, personal emails (closely followed by more detailed, personal emails) were the most effective way to do outreach for local links. In the middle we have other, more traditional outreach tactics like slow-burn relationship building, relationships through events, and phone outreach.

It’s funny to think that what matters here is not so much the content of the outreach message, it’s the platform. You could feasibly write exactly the same short, personal message in an email as in a Twitter direct message or LinkedIn InMail, but these apparently won’t be as effective as writing it in an email.

Of course, the content plays a huge part, but when the experts agree that email is the way to go, it’s hard to conceive of a reason to use social media over email when embarking on an outreach campaign.

Quality trumps quantity

Finally, I’d just like to touch on link traits. A question many ask is whether quality or quantity of links is more important when it comes to link building. In the above chart, we can see that quality of links trumps quantity in a big way. In fact, 90% of respondents agreed that quality or authority of links are ‘highly valuable’ when local link building.

Of course, quality is a big factor when it comes to non-local SEO, too, but it’s interesting to see that diversity of link sources (root domains) isn’t seen as quite as important, while in non-local SEO the diversity of your linking root domains is a critical factor.

This is just another way that those experienced in non-local SEO need to adapt their strategy when tackling the more niche practice of local link building.


I’ve discussed some of the things I found most surprising in this research, but there are plenty of other areas covered that should give local SEOs pause. For example, all experts agreed that local link building will not get any easier in the coming year.

One thing to take away, for sure, is that local SEOs shouldn’t be putting too much focus on using social media to get backlinks to local business websites, and instead they should be focusing on developing real, personal relationships using the comparatively ‘old-school’ method of email.

It looks like it may well be a tricky year for local SEO, but hopefully, with the raft of updates Google is making to Google My Business, and the renewed focus the search engine has on local SEO, it could also be very interesting, too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

Google AdWords is a highly effective marketing channel for brands to engage with customers.

The auction-based pay-per-click (PPC) model has revolutionized the advertising industry, but beneath the seductive simplicity of this input-output relationship lies a highly sophisticated technology.

Within this article, we round up five advanced features that can help you gain that vital competitive advantage.

Google AdWords has undergone a host of changes over the past 12 months, some cosmetic and some functional. Google’s prime revenue-driver has a new, intuitive look and feel that makes it even easier for marketers to assess performance and spot new opportunities.New-Adwords-InterfaceUnder the hood, AdWords is home to some increasingly sophisticated machine learning technology. Everything from bid adjustments to audience behavior and even search intent is now anlyzed by machine learning algorithms to improve ad targeting and performance.

All of this is changing how we run search campaigns, largely for the better.

Meanwhile, there are broad trends that continue to converge with search. Voice-activated digital assistants, visual search, and the ongoing growth of ecommerce all center around Google’s search engine.

At the intersection of Google and these emerging trends, paid search will evolve and new ways to reach audiences will arise.

Though this future-gazing reveals just how exciting the industry is, marketers also need to keep one eye firmly on the present.

As it stands, AdWords provides a vast array of features, all of which can impact campaign performance. Though automation is taking over more aspects of the day-to-day running of an account, there is arguably more need than ever before for seasoned paid search experts how know how to get the most out of the platform.

Below are five advanced AdWords features that can boost any PPC campaign.

Demographic targeting

For all of AdWords’ virtues, it has not been able to rival Facebook in terms of sheer quantity of demographic targeting options.

As part of Google’s ongoing shift from a keyword focus to a customer-centric approach, demographic targeting has improved very significantly.

This feature now allows advertisers to target customers by income and parental status, along with gender and age. Targeting by income is only available for video advertising and is restricted to the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand for the moment.

Nonetheless, this is a noteworthy update and provides an advanced feature that many brand will welcome.

The available options now include:

Demographic targeting for Search, Display or Video campaigns:

  • Age: “18-24,” “25-34,” “35-44,” “45-54,” “55-64,” “65 or more,” and “Unknown”
  • Gender: “Female,” “Male,” and “Unknown”

Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:

  • Parental status: “Parent,” “Not a parent,” and “Unknown”

Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:

  • Household income (currently available in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand only): “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”

Combined with the improved user interface, this can lead to some illuminating reports that highlight more detail about audiences than we have ever seen in this platform.

It’s not perfect yet and has some drawbacks in practice, as creating audiences can be quite labor-intensive when combining different filters. Nonetheless, demographic targeting is improving and will be an area of focus for Google this year.

Our previous article on demographic targeting goes into more detail on how to set this feature up.


A very natural byproduct of the increase in mobile searches has been an explosion in the number of calls attributed to paid search.

In fact, BIA/Kelsey projects that there will be 162 billion calls to businesses from smartphones by 2019.


Search forms a fundamental part of this brand-consumer relationship, so businesses are understandably keen to ensure they are set up to capitalize on such heightened demand.

Click-to-call can be an overlooked opportunity, as it does require a little bit of setup. If advertisers want to add call extensions, report specifically on this activity, and even schedule when these extensions appear, it is necessary to do this manually within AdWords.


Helpfully, it is now possible to enable call extensions across an account, simplfying what was once a cumbersome undertaking.

This is becoming an automated process in some aspects, whereby Google will identify landing pages that contain a phone number and generate call extensions using this information. However, some manual input will be required to get the most out of this feature.

Our step-by-step guide contains a range of handy tips for marketers who woud like to enable click-to-call campaigns.

Optimized ad rotation

Google made some very notable changes to its ad rotation settings in the second half of 2017.

In essence, ad rotation constantly tests different ad variations to find the optimal version for your audience and campaign KPIs.

Google’s machine learning technology is a natural fit for such a task, so it is no surprise that Google wants to take much of the ad rotation process out of the hands of advertisers and turn it into a slick, automated feature.

Perhaps this focus on the machine learning side of things has led advertisers to beleive that the process now requires no input from them.

A recent study by Marin Software across their very sizeable client base found that many ad groups contain fewer than three creatives:

Ad rotation

This is very significant, as Google recommends providing at least three ads in every ad group. Their official stance is, “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”

Creating a range of ads provides the resources Google needs to run statistically significant tests. No matter how sophisticated the machine learning algorithms are, with only one or two ads in each group there is very little they can do to improve performance.

There is a broader lesson to be taken here, beyond just getting the most out of this AdWords feature.

Even the most advanced technology requires the right quantity and quality of inputs. Although more and more elements of AdWords management can be automated, this doesn’t mean we can leave the machines to their own devices.

There are plentiful best practices that we still need to follow. Optimizing your ad rotation by including at least 3 ads in each group certainly counts as one of these.

Custom intent audiences

Google is clearly making a play for more of the traditionally ‘top of funnel’ marketing approaches.

The launch of more granular custom intent audiences with the Google Display Network is part of a wider strategy to take on the likes of Facebook by providing greater control over target audiences.

Google’s guidelines provide clear definition over how this recently launched feature works:

For Display campaigns, you can create a custom intent audience using in-market keywords – simply entering keywords and URLs related to products and services your ideal audience is researching across sites and apps.

In-market keywords (Display campaigns)

  • Enter keywords, URLs, apps or YouTube content to reach an online audience that’s actively researching a related product or service.
  • It’s best practice to add keywords and URLs (ideally 15 total) that fit a common theme to help AdWords understand your ideal audience.
  • Avoid entering URLs that require people to sign in, such as social media or email services.
  • Include keywords related to the products and services that this audience is researching; these will be used as the focal point for building the custom intent audience.

Custom intent audiences: Auto-created (Display campaigns)

To make finding the right people easy, Google uses machine learning technology to analyse your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.

For example, insights from existing campaigns may show that people who’ve visited a sporting goods website have also actively researched all-weather running shoes. AdWords may then auto-create a new ‘waterproof trail running shoes’ custom intent audience to simplify the process of reaching this niche segment of customers.

Once more, we see the addition of machine learning into a core Google product.

These automated audience lists are generated based on activity across all of your Google marketing channels, including YouTube and Universal App Campaigns, along with Search and the Google Display Network.

Although this does not yet provide the level of targeting that Facebook can offer, custom intent audiences do dramatically improve the product and they move Google closer to a truly customer-centric approach.

Sophisticated advertisers will find thata this advanced feature improves performance for both prospecting and remarketing.

Smart bidding

Smart bidding has some crossover with the other AdWords features on our list. In a nutshell, smart bidding uses machine learning to asses the relationships between a range of variables and improve performance through the AdWords auction.

It is capable of optimizing bids to ensure the best possible return on investment against the advertiser’s target KPIs. Smart bidding does this by looking at the context surrounding bids and isolating the factors that have historically led to specific outcomes. Based on this knowledge, it can automatically bid at the right level to hit the advertiser’s campaign targets.

These targets can be set based on a target CPA (cost per acquisition), ROAS (return on ad spend), or CPC (cost per click).

The latest option available to brands is named ‘maximize conversions’ and this will seek to gain the optial number of conversions (whatver those may be for the brand in question) against their set budge.

As we have noted already, these algorithms require substantial amounts of data, so this is a feature best used by this with an accrual of historical AdWords performance data.

Smart bidding is also not quite a ‘set and forget’ bidding strategy. Some marketers will still prefer the control of manual bidding and it would be fair to say that smart bidding levels the playing field somewhat across all advertisers.

Nonetheless, it is a hugely powerful AdWords feature and can create multiple account performance efficiencies.

Google provides some thorough detail on smart bidding on the Google Support blog.

How to plan and create evergreen content for SEO

Understanding evergreen content is important for search engine marketers and jobbing professional writers alike.

In a previous piece for Search Engine Watch, my colleague Graham Charlton covered the power of evergreen content for SEO with some comprehensive Google Analytics stats to back up his claims. This post, however, seeks to explore evergreen articles from the content creation perspective.

  • How can I ensure this piece I am writing is evergreen?
  • And how can I ensure it will help with SEO?

Nailing down your evergreen subject

Deciding on what your new piece of evergreen content is going to be about is not an exact science.

In simple terms, such articles (of course, other types of content are also available) are expected to have enduring appeal on into the future. You want your subject to be relevant in the weeks, months, and potentially years to come.

With that in mind, I think it’s important not to view evergreen content as separate from things like pure news. Rather, it’s better to view how potentially evergreen a piece of content is on a scale – with things like news releases at one end, and informative pieces about the most universally enduring subjects at the other.

How-to guides and beginner’s guides

How-to guides and beginner’s guides are great examples of evergreen content. These are valuable educational resources, providing authority and giving the reader information to assist them in a task.

They are evergreen because people are always coming online to search for such resources – whether they are beginners, intermediates, or professionals.

Certain how-to or beginner’s pieces will have more evergreen potential than others as the need for people to have different types of skills come and go.

For example, baking bread is a very enduring skill, especially in comparison to something like using Microsoft Excel 2016 – but a how-to or beginner’s guide about Excel 2016 would certainly still be towards the evergreen end of the scale.

Other subjects have evergreen potential too

Even if the subject might appear time sensitive, a piece can still be written in such a way that it will have value down the line.

Trends pieces might on the surface seem quite short-term, but can have evergreen potential if they are looking at data over a long period of time, or if updates to the data are not expected soon. Case studies and more in-depth reflections on news events can be approached in the same way.

Curatorial pieces (such as examples of good or bad practice) might reflect on timely moments but can be given more longevity if written in regards to the wider historical context. They may also be easy to add-to down the line. The same can be said for listicles – despite their throwaway nature.

Even seasonal pieces can come back around.

Like I said, it’s not an exact science. Just because a piece of content discusses news doesn’t mean it isn’t evergreen. And just because something is a how-to guide doesn’t mean it definitely is.

Audience comes first, even when writing evergreen content for SEO

To quote Graham Charlton:

‘If done properly, content that works for your audience can also be the content that works for search engines.’

Titles and introductions should be descriptive, rather than clickbait-y and/or stuffed with keywords.

They should be true to the content that follows.

It is typical for evergreen articles to be more in-depth and informative to your audience than things at the other end of the scale such as quick news stories or press releases which provide little more than the bottom line.

Remember, if presenting a reader with a longer piece, make use of plenty of whitespace and sub-headings to break up large pieces of text.

Evergreen pieces may take more time to write. But in the long run they are likely to give more value to a wider audience and will provide more returns to your site.

So is it SEO-friendly?

Of course, evergreen content is great for appealing to future readers, but also good for building authority on search engines.

Best practice with title tags, URLs and image alt text should all reflect your keywords.

Internal links to other relevant pages on the same domain also point search engines to other bits of content relating to your piece – giving weight to the page you are linking out to, but also showing your piece to be part of the conversation. Of course, readers appreciate further reading too.

As we touched upon earlier, some of the best examples of enduring subjects to write about have no doubt been of interest to readers for a long time and will likely to continue to be.

Baking bread is a good example – but of course, an article titled simply: ‘How to bake bread’ is not likely to do your website any favours with search engines. The competition for that topic would be immense.

More visibility is possible, though. Exploring a niche aspect of a bigger subject is a good option for a new piece of evergreen content. For example, ‘How to bake bread without an oven’ has just as much evergreen potential as ‘How to bake bread’ and although it has a smaller potential audience, it would be far easier to rank for in the SERPs.

Exploring alternative approaches to the way a question might be posed is another way to potentially stand out on Google.

For example, ‘A beginner’s guide to mixing flour, kneading dough, and making great bread’ might be a worthwhile alternative to ‘A beginner’s guide to baking bread.’ This type of headline, though wordy, will potentially appear for a greater range of search queries such as ‘How to knead dough’ and ‘How to make great bread’.

A checklist for creating evergreen content

In the interest of ensuring that the points raised in this piece are actionable, I thought I’d sum up with a checklist:

  1. Does the subject have evergreen potential?
  2. Does it seek to answer a question and establish authority?
  3. If it relates to news or trends, can it be written in a more evergreen way?
  4. Is the title and introduction descriptive and informative for the audience?
  5. If the piece is long, is it separated with white space, sub-headings, bullets and pictures?
  6. Are keywords reflected in title tags, URLs, alt. text etc.?
  7. Are there internal links to other articles on the same domain and do articles from the domain link back?
  8. Should the piece explore a niche or does it need alternative wording in the title to stand out?

Evergreen content can require more effort than other types of content, but will ultimately pay off in the long run. The key is to take time in choosing your subject, planning your angle and potentially spending a little longer writing or creating it.

The resulting piece will not necessarily produce immediate traffic spikes and quick authority, but will be invaluable for your readers and your SEO visibility over time. Understanding how to produce evergreen content is a great additional tool in your search and content marketing kit.