Quality content with evergreen characteristics isn’t just a phrase to be thrown around in order to sell content writing services, it should carry some substance and a sense of reality. I personally believe that when a client pays me to write content for him or her, he or she assumes (or at least I assume that he or she assumes) that I’m going to give my best shot. What is this the best shot?
The definition may differ from person to person or content writer to content writer. For some, the only thing that matters is the search engine rankings. Some want to be famous on social media websites. Some hard-core salespeople want to write a tightly-knit sales copy. Quality content contains all of these characteristics. A business needs all these things to use content as a highly productive business tool.
Evergreen characteristics of quality content never go out of fashion
Why I call these characteristics evergreen is because they never change, because inherent qualities in people, in behavior, even the nature of sub-atomic entities, remain the same throughout the ages. There is a reason why philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Panini are still read and admired. Their teachings never go out of fashion. The same is true for the evergreen characteristics of quality content. These are the fundamentals. These fundamentals are not just applicable to writing content, they are applicable to every aspect of your life. These are like the gospel truths. The 20 of these evergreen characteristics of quality content are listed below.
1. Quality content is relevant to the target audience
Content written for a particular audience always performs better than content written for pretty much everybody. For example, if on my website I write about all sorts of writing including poetry, fiction, sci-fi, eroticism, horror, and whatever, it will become a portal of sorts. There will be no target audience. For a business it doesn’t work that way. Your content needs to be relevant to a specified audience and only then it can make an impact. Hence, although I talk about writing on this blog, I’m primarily talking about content writing and even here, I’m primarily addressing the concerns of people who may need content for their websites.
2. The writing must be professional
Now what does professional mean?
- The language should be decent
- There should be no spelling mistakes
- There should be no grammatical mistakes
- Industry-specific language must be used
- A consistent style guide must be followed
- The text must be arranged under appropriate headlines and sub-headlines
- Shorter facts must be arranged in bullets
3. Focus on a single topic
One of the biggest evergreen characteristics of quality content is its level of focus. Are you writing about a single topic or are you trying to handle multiple topics in a single article or blog post? Try to keep your content as focused as possible.
4. It should be written in scannable format
Scannable format means your content should be readable without having to read the entire body text. Even if someone quickly goes through the headlines, sub-headlines and bulleted points, he or she should be able to get the gist of what you’re trying to say. This is not to discourage detailed writing, it just makes sense to make it convenient for those who don’t have enough time to go through the entire thing.
5. Highlight the benefits of the product or service being promoted
Yes, somewhere you have to mention characteristics and features of your product or service, but ultimately what matters is what benefits people are going to derive from your product or service. People are interested in knowing what they are going to get rather than how great your business offering is.
6. Encourage the desired action among your visitors
What should people do once they are on your website? Should they fill up your query form? Should they subscribe to your newsletter? Should they download your ebook or catalog? Should they buy one of the products listed in your online catalog? Whatever you want them to do on your website, you should write your content accordingly.
7. Include valid data and statistics
People always find numbers reassuring. How many people in the previous month have used your product or service? What are the worldwide trends? How are your competitors doing? Among all your customers last month, how many of them saw a marked improvement in the concerned aspect of their lives (in whichever manner your product or service is meant to affect them)? When you mention exact facts, people feel more reassured.
8. Whenever possible, write in the first person
You strike a personal chord when you write in the first person. This is an evergreen characteristic of quality writing writers have been following through ages (or at least since the art of storytelling developed). Personal accounts are always fascinating. “I had this problem and this is how I solved it” always sounds better than “Peter had this problem and this is how he solved it”. Also use “This is the problem that you have and this is how you’re going to solve it” rather than “This is the problem Peter has and this is how he is going to solve it.”
9. Quality content is available in preferred format
Although I’m a content writer and my sole focus is on writing, not everybody is crazy about the written word. Maybe your target audience prefers videos? Pinterest has proved that there is a great demand for images. Some prefer slideshows and some prefer animations. You should know which format of content your audience prefers and then create your content accordingly.
10. Quality content changes perceptions
When you convince people into believing in what you believe in, you are changing perceptions. People come to your website with a certain set of ideas. But when they access your content, when they read it, you change their way of thinking or at least you influence their way of thinking. This is what quality content must achieve. If it is not changing perceptions, people are not going to come to your website and buy your stuff.
11. Encourages people to engage with you and vice-versa
Engaging people in a constructive dialogue is the best way to make an imprint in their minds. People will remember you more if you engage them, if you ask them questions, if you provide them answers and even when you seek answers from them. The ability to engage people gives your content an evergreen characteristic of quality.
12. It’s okay to have a mix of original, curated and aggregated content
Evergreen characteristics of quality content don’t just involve original content. Don’t have enough time to write? You can always curate content. You can routinely aggregate high-quality content from other websites or blogs. But don’t simply copy/paste that content. Even if it is just one paragraph, add your own take on it. In fact there is no use regurgitating quality content that already exists on other websites and blogs.
13. Quality content involves a consistent publishing schedule
Although, frankly, this has less to do with writing and more to do with content marketing but still, the evergreen aspect of your content is more sustainable if you follow a consistent publishing schedule. If for the next five months you are going to publish a blog post every day, then do so. If you feel that on certain days you’re going to be busier compared to the other days, you can schedule publishing in advance, but make sure you publish every day. Similarly, if you want to publish every Wednesday, then make sure that your blog post or article appears on Wednesday. This is because after a while people begin to expect hearing from you, even unconsciously.
14. Write content around a persona
It is very important to know for whom you are writing. It gives you a clear idea of what problems to solve in the present piece of content. Once you know the persona of your reader, you will be able to decide whether
- You want to use formal or informal language
- You want to follow a personal or a professional approach
- You should use industry-specific terms or not
- You should focus on facts or rhetoric
For example, if you are writing content for a product that caters to teachers and academicians your writing must be flawless, appropriate and must adhere to the proper usage of words and expressions. On the other hand, if you are writing for a product that caters to youngsters you can use the hip-hop expressions used by them, worrying less about the accuracy of language.
15. Storytelling is one of the most prevalent evergreen characteristics of quality writing
Storytelling creates a context and then dramatizes that context so that you can visually imagine it and if possible, apply it to your own circumstances. A story lays bare the problems, tribulations and challenges faced by a person and then how either he or she solves those problems or the problems are solved by your product or service, or something similar. Through storytelling, instead of directly telling people to buy your product or service, you present them with a reason.
16. Keep your content constantly refreshed
Outdated, stale content fails to attract people. Just as it is important to constantly create new content, you also need to keep your existing content fresh. Quality writing also involves rewriting your existing content to bring it at par with contemporary trends and developments.
17. Quality content is search engine optimized
Although quality content is by default search engine optimized, in case the thought hasn’t crossed your mind, don’t ignore this aspect. When you are producing quality content why do you produce it? It is because you want people to benefit from it. How do people benefit from it? They benefit from it by accessing it. A search engine like Google is a great way to find good content. Make sure your content is searchable and written according to Google’s guidelines. It will make it easier for people to make use of your content and you will also get new customers and clients.
18. Quality content is social media optimized
Millions of content updates are shared on social media and social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and YouTube. Do social media users find your content attractive enough to share? Is it possible to share your content on social media and social and networking websites easily? Content that is optimized for social media websites should ideally be topical because people normally share content around a current topic.
Take care of the following in order to make your content social media optimized
- Keep shorter page or blog post titles so that they can be easily shared on Twitter that allows just 140 characters.
- When you are writing blog posts, articles and webpages associate a strong visual with it because an image or a photograph has a greater tendency of attracting people compared to just text, and besides, it creates a bigger box when the update appears on Facebook or Twitter.
- Focus on different formats for different social media channels, for example, you can create attractive and interesting graphics for Pinterest, informative slides for Slideshare and captivating videos for YouTube. The more social media channels you target, the more choice you will give to the social media users to share your content. Just make sure you don’t dilute your effort and end up with no advantage over the particular social media channel.
19. Entertainment is an evergreen characteristic of quality content that never loses its value
People always love to be entertained. But what is entertainment? An avid reader may find reading Nabokov or Camus entertaining. Some find popular soap operas on television entertaining. Kids love to hear stories from their elders. Not only funny articles and essays are entertaining. Try to find out what would be entertaining to your audience and create your content accordingly. You don’t always have to entertain, but whenever you can, do that.
20. Show your love and consideration for causes
Your business doesn’t exist in isolation. It will always function within the circumstantial parameters of the world around you or even across the globe since we are all connected these days. When you associate your content with the cause whether it is about saving the environment or the polar bears or fighting for the education and health of the underprivileged, people will appreciate it. Get involved with the causes and then write about them. Or simply create content to raise awareness about your favorite causes.
Please keep in mind that what I have listed above are the “evergreen characteristics” of quality content, I haven’t written about creating evergreen quality content, that would be a totally different topic.