Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
5 mins read

Tips from WIRED’s evergreen content strategy

Is your content archive working harder than you’re giving it credit for? WIRED’s Director of Audience Development Indu Chandrasekhar recently shared that 40% of WIRED’s visits goes to content that’s at least a week old.

“We are dedicated to trying to figure out how to make WIRED’s 26-year-old archive—as well as everything new that we produce—really shine,” Indu says. She shared the process her team uses to make the most of their evergreen content.

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Watch Indu Chandrasekhar walk through WIRED’s evergreen content strategy on this webinar.

What do I do with Evergreen content?

Creating a successful evergreen content strategy relies on two things: first, finding the evergreen stories, and then second, doing something with them. We’ve broken down how to find evergreen content in Parse.ly below, but if you already have some and are wondering “What now?” here are the top tips Indu recommends.

Give your archive some attention

If you want your audience to dive into your archives, make it easy for them. Your older articles need your help to look really great.

At a minimum, make sure that any older articles getting evergreen traffic, typically from search, match the look and feel of current articles. They shouldn’t have broken images, headers should be clear, and any issues from an old CMS migration should be fixed.

Re-promote evergreen stories on social

Once you know articles looks great, you can think about active distribution or re-promotion of evergreen content. While search can be a big traffic source for evergreen, the WIRED team then takes the best stories to social, and has fun with it.

“We’ve played around with language,” says Indu. “We’ve pulled quotes from the story. We’ve made special art and created special assets. We’ve done Twitter threads. We’ve done interviews, we’ve done excerpts. There’s no end to things you can do. It’s one of the places you can play around the most. Are there holidays or special events you can peg these stories to?”

Re-promote evergreen stories in your emails and newsletters

In addition to social, the team also includes evergreen stories in their newsletters. Indu recommends testing different ways to do this. They created a dedicated “archive only” newsletter, but they also use one to two spots in daily newsletters for evergreen content. Since your most loyal readers likely get your newsletter, they’re an audience that wants to be reminded of your great stories.

Finally, evergreen content can be a way to engage your audience in conversations. “Ask them, What are your favorite stories?” says Indu. “We sometimes ask them, ‘Did we get this prediction right or wrong?’ or ‘What’s the best thing that you’ve seen [in relation to this article]?’”

Finding Evergreen stories

To take an evergreen content strategy from an incidental to intentional, Indu says you have to build a habit of finding, tracking, and promoting evergreen stories.

Indu uses Parse.ly to help her identify archival content that needs an SEO update, deserves a spot in a newsletter, or begs for re-promotion on social media. Here are a few ways her team finds their best stories.

Using the Evergreen Overview Report

If you’ve never looked for evergreen content in Parse.ly before, the Evergreen Overview report is a good starting point.

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This report will give you a quick way to identify sections, authors, and tags that have higher amounts of evergreen stories. It also shows individual top evergreen stories; these are your best bets for starting off your evergreen strategy.

You can have this report delivered to your inbox daily, weekly, or monthly to make sure that you’re not missing any big evergreen stories to update and re-promote.

Using evergreen filters in a top listings report or export

Once you’ve moved beyond your top five to ten most popular evergreen stories it’s time to, as Indu puts it, “go down the rabbit hole.” To get a nice, long list of evergreen content, she uses a Top Listings export, which provides an Excel file or CSV of stories (up to 10,000).

Depending on how comfortable you are with Excel, you can also choose to see these stories in a report format. The set up is the same for both, choose between “Top Listings” under Basic or “Top Listings Export” under Spreadsheets.

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Set up your report:

  1. Select “Top Listings” report (Reports > Basic > Top Listings Report).
  2. Select an aspect: posts, authors, sections, etc. For this, we chose posts.
  3. Choose how often you want to receive the report. To build the evergreen habit, set it up to be weekly or monthly. You can also choose to subscribe team members to recurring reports to discuss evergreen strategy with them.
  4. Click Continue.
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Choose your options:

  1. Select the time period. This tells the report to look for posts that were receiving traffic during this time, no matter when they were published.
  2. Pick a metric to sort by. Indu’s team at Wired sometimes selects “Average Engaged Time” to find evergreen articles that may not be getting traffic, but that have high engagement from people who are finding it already. Here, we chose search referrals.
  3. Choose how long the list should be. We chose top 1,000 because we want to be able to find the evergreen posts that are doing well, but aren’t in the top 20 or 50.
  4. Choose a lifecycle filter: Evergreen or Evergreen Candidate. This is the important one! Evergreen filters for steadily-trafficked posts more than 20 days old. Evergreen Candidate filters for steadily-trafficked posts between 8-20 days old. (Read more about how Parse.ly calculates evergreen content.)
  5. Click Run Now, or select who you want to receive the report if you set it up to be weekly or monthly.

Look in your archive for past articles when news hits or for recurring events

Reports aren’t the only way to uncover good evergreen options in Parse.ly. How about finding posts to create guides, explainers, or list posts? Not only do these formats do well in search, they help your audience find everything they need in one place.

When a big news story breaks that you’ve covered in the past, or if you want to create a guide about a topic you know your team has written a lot about, the search tool in Parse.ly can help you identify which stories you should include and link to. This is especially helpful if your on-site search leaves something to be desired.

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Here’s a guide WIRED’s team put together on Aliens, and then promoted on social media.

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Planning your editorial calendar can also benefit from evergreen stories. During your planning process, take a look at stories from 11 months ago. Are their upcoming annual events that you can do an update around?

Track your success, and share it with your team

If you’ve invested time and energy building your evergreen strategy, finding the posts, fixing and re-promoting your articles, you’ll want to celebrate the success that comes with it.

Adding tags to any story you update means you can easily track this effort. Once you update and add tags, make sure to have our system recrawl the post though! You can do this manually through the dashboard under Settings > API Settings. If you update older posts more frequently, your development team can make sure that any post update gets captured automatically (see the documentation for this here.)

And last, but never least, don’t forget how important it is to socialize evergreen initiatives and efforts internally. You may realize how much effort the archive is worth, but everyone has competing priorities. Sharing the data and results with the broader team will show why paying attention to evergreen content is the right way to spend your time.

by Melissa Bierly

Re-published with kind permission of Parse.ly, the insights company that empowers media owners to understand and improve digital audience engagement through data

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