by Brian Dean · Updated Jun. 29, 2021
We analyzed 3.6 billion articles to better understand evergreen content.
Specifically, we looked at a number of different factors (including content formats and promotional channels) that may lead to a higher chance of publishing evergreen content.
With the help of our data partner BuzzSumo, we learned a lot about why certain content continues to get shares and links over time.
Let’s get right into the data.
Here’s a Quick Summary of Our Key Findings:
1. List posts and how-to posts are the two “most evergreen” content formats. Presentations and press releases tend to be the least evergreen.
2. Podcast episodes very rarely get shared over time. In fact, podcasts are 4.28x less likely to be evergreen compared to a list post.
3. Content that’s heavily shared on Reddit has a high likelihood of becoming evergreen.
4. Articles with lots of engagement on Twitter very rarely end up receiving shares and links over the long term.
5. Posts that include “2020” or “2021” in their title tend to be highly evergreen. This shows that content with recent information is more likely to receive shares.
6. Content types with the highest proportion of evergreen content include “best of” lists, guides, data-driven research and industry reports.
7. Among publishers that we analyzed, Social Media Examiner, HBR and Mindful tend to publish the highest amount of evergreen content.
8. Verticals that tend to publish evergreen content most regularly include digital marketing, health, and technology.
9. Industries with relatively low amounts of evergreen articles include SEO, business, and fashion.
First, we wanted to analyze the impact of content format on an article’s ability to become evergreen.
While the topic of a piece is obviously a key element of a piece’s interest over time, we hypothesized that the format might play a role as well.
Here’s what we found:
As you can see, list posts are (by far) the content format that tends to become evergreen most often. Followed by how-to posts, “what” posts and “why” posts.
This is in-line with our previous research, which found that list posts tended to get a high amount of shares overall.
To calculate how evergreen a piece of content was, we used BuzzSumo’s “Evergreen” metric.
This metric looks at shares and links that occur 30 days after an article was first published.
For example, this list post from Healthline has an extremely high Evergreen score:
While this content did get a fair number of shares and links early on, the post continues to generate traffic and buzz years after it was first published.
Overall, we discovered that Evergreen scores were not evenly distributed between different formats.
In fact, a list post is 15x more likely to become evergreen than a presentation.
Key Takeaway: List posts and how-to posts appear to be the best content formats for publishers looking to maximize the amount of evergreen content that they publish.
We found that podcast episodes don’t generally have a very long shelf life.
This may not come as a surprise to folks in the podcast space. There are definitely certain podcast episodes that people listen to years after they’re first released.
However, most people’s podcast apps are designed to feature new episodes that were just released.
In fact, the feeds themselves are listed in chronological order. This may partly explain why very few podcast episodes receive social media shares after their first month.
We also found that content in the format of a presentation, press release or infographic tends to get most of their shares early. And then fizzle out. In fact, these three formats were even less likely to become evergreen compared to podcasts.
However, due to the fact that podcasts are an increasingly popular content format, we thought it would be helpful to highlight this finding.
Key Takeaway: Podcast episodes tend to create a buzz early on. But very few podcast episodes continue to receive shares and links over the long term.
Next, we wanted to look at the impact of engagement on different channels on evergreen content.
Specifically, we looked at how shares on four different popular social networks correlated with content becoming evergreen.
Here are our findings:
Among the articles in our data set, content with high engagement on Reddit had a relatively high likelihood of being shared over time.
Why might this be?
Like any social platform, Reddit’s users are interested in news items, recently-published content and trending videos. In fact, there are several subreddits dedicated to discovering new content on different topics.
However, unlike other platforms, Reddit also has a fair number of users interested in timeless content. Including entertainment articles and videos that may have been published years ago.
For example, here’s an article from our data set that received quite a bit of Reddit engagement:
(That article also ended up having a high evergreen score.)
Unlike a news article or a piece from TMZ, this is the type of content that people can get value from months, years and even decades after it first goes live.
In fact, Reddit may be a helpful “litmus test” for figuring out which topics in your niche are likely to lead to evergreen content.
Key Takeaway: Reddit engagement highly correlates with an article’s chance of generating links and shares over time.
We discovered that content with lots of shares and retweets isn’t likely to have high evergreen scores.
To anyone familiar with Twitter, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The platform is largely dedicated to the here and now (in fact, Twitter’s tagline is “Happening now”).
There’s also the fact that many heavily-shared articles on Twitter are news pieces. Which, by definition, don’t receive much interest after they’re initially shared.
We also found that Pinterest pins didn’t tend to correlate with a blog post’s ability to become evergreen. Unlike Twitter, it’s possible for pinned content to appear in people’s feeds long after it’s first shared.
However, based on our data, it does look like heavy Pinterest pinning early on doesn’t indicate that an article will get long-term links and shares.
Key Takeaway: Twitter shares have very little correlation with a piece of content’s ability to become evergreen.
Interestingly, we found that articles that featured the current year in their title had a high chance of becoming evergreen.
At first, this finding may come as a surprise. After all, content that’s focused on a specific year is likely to become less relevant as time goes on.
However, there are two reasons that focusing on the current year can boost the odds that your content becomes evergreen:
First, content with recent information may get shares and links to begin with. And that effect persists over time.
(Remember that BuzzSumo’s Evergreen score counts engagement that happens after 30 days.)
So, depending on the month a post was first published, there are still months of potential sharing within the year featured in the title.
For example, here’s a post that contains the current year. And has a relatively high evergreen score:
This is the rare breed of post that’s relevant the day it’s published. And can still be valuable months down the road.
Second, posts that feature the current year weren’t necessarily published that year.
For example, this post was first published in 2017:
However, the title still contains “2021”. This reflects the fact that the post has been updated this year. Again, offering readers a piece of new (or updated) content likely leads to more shares.
Interestingly, we also discovered that including the year in your blog post titles seems to be more effective now compared to previous years.
Specifically, articles with “2020” or “2021” in their titles had a median Evergreen score of 33 – significantly higher than previous years.
This may simply be due to the fact that there’s more content out there than ever before. And users are increasingly seeking out shortcuts (like a title containing “2021”) to help them find recent, relevant information.
It could also be due to 2020 and 2021 being dominated by the coronavirus. And considering the changes brought on by the world’s response to the virus, people increasingly saw content published before COVID as largely irrelevant. While a post featuring “2020” or “2021” would stand out as something relevant.
Key Takeaway: Including the current year in your title and title tag may help lead to more shares over the short and long term.
Our next step was to drill down into specific content types that tend to result in evergreen content.
In other words, we identified top-performing formats (list posts, how-to posts, etc.) above. But there are dozens of different variations within those formats.
For example, a comprehensive list of dog breeds is going to be completely different than a list of tips for optimizing your site’s SEO.
Both are technically list posts. But the final result will be completely different.
This is why we wanted to dig a bit deeper into a number of popular content types. And figure out which content types were the best option for marketers wanting to put out more evergreen content.
To do this, we looked at terms that tended to appear in the titles of highly evergreen content.
Here’s what we found:
Content focused on “the best” tends to have the highest Evergreen scores.
This shows that readers highly value content that curates the best products, apps, videos and social media accounts in one place.
For example, here’s a “best” post from our data set:
Another highly evergreen content type was guides.
Like “best” posts, the main value of guides is that they save time. But instead of curating the best items, you’re essentially curating information.
For example, this beginner’s guide to blockchain from Forbes continues to get shares and links more than 4 years after it was first published:
We also discovered that content containing “data”, “reports”, “study”, “science”, “facts” and “research” in their titles had relatively high evergreen scores.
This shows that users are hungry for data-driven information.
Here’s an example from the articles that we analyzed:
(Note how this piece is from 2018. Yet it continues to generate backlinks.)
Finally, content about “the future” and “trends” get shares over time. Which makes sense: people are always on the lookout for what’s coming next. And as long as these trend-related posts have a long outlook, they can remain evergreen over a fairly long period of time.
Here’s an example of an evergreen post focused on trends:
Key Takeaway: Readers are hungry for content that curates the best, collects information in a single place and includes plenty of data.
At this point we had analyzed a number of factors that correlate with evergreen content. And we wanted to see which publishers did the best job at actually creating it.
Specifically, we analyzed all domains in the BuzzSumo database that have published at least 10,000 articles.
Here’s what we found:
Among the domains we looked at, Social Media Examiner, HBR, Mindful, Brain Pickings and Visual Capitalist publish evergreen content at world-class levels.
Although the types of content and topics that each of these sites cover differ, there are some commonalities that tie their content together.
First, these publishers lean heavily on content formats that we already discovered correlate strongly with evergreen content.
Social Media Examiner essentially only publishes content in these two formats.
While HBR leans heavily on how-to content.
And Mindful tends to write lots of “what” and “why” posts — two formats that significantly correlate with Evergreen scores.
Second, the content itself is outlined from scratch to stand the test of time:
And for content that can’t be truly evergreen (like the content Social Media Examiner publishes), it’s designed from scratch to be content that can be regularly updated.
For example, this post from Social Media Examiner is likely to go out of date as LinkedIn’s UI changes.
But the core content and strategies aren’t going to stop working any time soon. This means the post will just need a quick touch-up (and some new screenshots) sometime over the next 12-18 months.
Key Takeaway: Publishers that put out the highest amount of evergreen content tend to focus on effective content formats, evergreen content types, and topics that people are likely to be interested in years down the road.
When it comes to different verticals, which tend to publish evergreen content most often?
To answer this question we analyzed 12 verticals. And sorted them by their average evergreen scores.
Here are the results of that analysis:
Overall, content about digital marketing, content marketing, health and entertainment tend to be highly evergreen.
For example, here’s a blog post about marketing with a very high Evergreen score:
On the other hand, content related to business, finance and fashion is less likely to have high evergreen scores.
To anyone in the content world, these findings may not come as a surprise. As we touched on when we talked about Social Media Examiner, a fair amount of marketing-related content is evergreen (or can be made evergreen with a few tweaks).
It’s the same story with health-related content. Like marketing content, articles about health need updating over time. But the guidelines and advice are fairly durable as time goes on.
Here’s an example of a piece of evergreen content in the health space:
On the other hand, content about finance and fashion tends to be more focused on events or fads happening during the current day or week.
Key Takeaway: Verticals publishing the highest rate of evergreen content include marketing, technology, health and entertainment.
That wraps up our analysis. I hope you found the data interesting and useful.
And I’d like to again thank Henley Wing and Louise Linehan from BuzzSumo for making this study possible.
With that, it’s time to hear what you have to say.
Were any of these findings surprising? Or maybe you have a question.
Either way, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Very interesting statistics. I just want to highlight what you have indicated very well with your vocabulary when using the word correlation; I mean that in many cases I don’t think there is causation, so this must be taken with caution before following this as a roadmap.
Either way, there is a lot of valuable information to squeeze out.
Thanks German. There are cases where correlation does equal causation. But you’re right: it’s important not to imply causation unless there’s evidence of a direct relationship.
Wow, another awesome content from Brian, but bruh, how do you get to make this up?
After several years of procrastinating to start my blog I finally started, just came to your blog to search for link-building tactics then I saw this. Bruh you are king in this game, I’d appreciate it if you can check my new blog, just posted my first article, it’s 7k words, kinda thinking it’s too long and can be a boring read.
Please I would appreciate your take.
Thanks Tobi. Well this post is one that I could 100% not do myself. BuzzSumo provided the data that made this study possible.
Logic dictates that posts that include “2020” or “2021” in their title are probably “seasonal”. That is why I was surprised to find out that the opposite is true.
I thought the same thing, Vladamir. But it looks like the sheer number of engagement a post gets during that first year makes up for the fact that traffic probably peters out a year or two after the post first goes live.
It’s misleading because the URL is recycled, with just the year being updated in the title and some slight updates to the content. It may have been posted first in 2016, but the page gets a refresh every year or two. Literally the easiest way to make a URL evergreen.
Wonderful insights Brian. I hope to see some improvement on my content looking at the stats you showed.
Sounds good, Saket. Let me know how it goes.
List posts and how-to posts are the two “most evergreen” content formats.
Make sure you edit them regularly with the latest information and search engines will love you more.
Thanks, Brian for this amazing study.
You’re welcome, Suresh. That’s a good point: keeping content up to date is an important part of publishing evergreen stuff.
As usually great research that helps community to improve! I was very surprised about the Posts that include “2020” or “2021” in their title tend to be highly evergreen result. Great piece of information!
Thanks Eduard. That surprised me too. Could be as simple as the year in the title helps the post get more juice during that year+. Or that posts that have the year in their title are updated regularly.
Thanks for sharing. Especially like the part about “Readers are hungry for content that curates the best, collects information in a single place and includes plenty of data.”
You’re welcome, Lawrence. Yup, that sums it up.
All this while I’ve been thinking, list articles can die out very easily xD Thanks for the information, as always!
They definitely can. But if the list post is on an evergreen topic (or is kept up to date), they can have a good run.
I checked your list of points which making them a evergreen article.
I have lots of sites but if we talk about the educational site my evergreen content is that one on which I have given all info what students needs about that topic.
But when It comes to my micro niche site I need to make lots of strategies like reddit sharing, facbook, and branding and answering people’s question with link to my guides.
And when it comes to news or trending articles they are just news. They become old withing few days.
Thanks. That’s true: the approach is a lot different depending on the site. Funny thing is, I’ve been seeing news sites publish more evergreen stuff lately. Probably because they don’t want to 100% rely on getting traffic from news articles that fade within hours or days.
This is incredibly helpful. I have a relatively new blog and YouTube channel, and am constantly trying to work out what the viewers are interested in. This article has really helped me narrow it down. Thanks!
Hi Suzanne, no worries. Happy to help.
Really enjoyed the insights! And all of them seem to reflect the human need for clarity, structure and the comfort of predictability really well. Respect to all content creators, who are helping other humans through such work!
We do a lot of ‘best’ lists, including those that repeat year after year. Some have longer legs than others.
Two approaches are:
a. Title the pages ‘best of X [year]’ — and have multiple pages
b. Title the page ‘best of X’ — a single page, no year
With a.) there’s strong traffic but the pages end up competing with each other and adding to potentially repetitive content.
With b.) the good part is that the page remains relevant forever so backlinks tend to stay fresh, for a long-term build. the bad part is that you lose the old data each year.
I’m not sure I could do the calculation for whether it’s better to have multiple traffic to multiple pages or if the single page would draw all the same traffic.
For most lists, we do a URL with no date, but can still put the year into the page title when we update for social media purposes etc.
BTW, thanks Brian. Love your work, esp. the research. Cheers.
Hi Ed, thanks for sharing that. Very interesting stuff. In my experience, your approach is best: you retain the backlinks to the page. And if you give the page a legit update, Google (and users) will treat it like a new piece of content.
3.6 billion articles is A LOT of data to go through. I am so thankful for you Brian and Henley and Louise from BuzzSumo for making this available to us all.
Not only will it save a ton of time, the findings were impressive!
Especially, the “Best Of Lists” and how “Digital Marketing” content makes the top of the list for the “Highest Overall Evergreen Scores”. It makes sense.
It also makes feel I’m at the right place and at the right time.
Hi Henry, 3.6B of anything is no joke! Luckily, the BuzzSumo team is used to crunching massive data sets. For sure: if you focus on evergreen content you won’t regret it (over the long-term).
good old listicles.
HA! Exactly. They still work.
Wow! Always on point with relevant and valuable information, Brian.
Thanks a lot.
Hi David, no worries. Glad to hear that you enjoyed reading the study.
Super helpful article Brian. Thank you so much for all your efforts in putting this together.
You’re welcome, Darshana.
Excellent analysis! This confirms everything I’ve been teaching about long-form content over the years and looking at 3.6B proves it. Love the graphs.
Thanks Peyton 👍👍👍
Reddit may be an excellent social media platform with great upside, but it can also be brutally unforgiving of even the slightest missteps, including shadowbanning and downvoting out of existence.
Would be great to see more insights into successful marketing on Reddit, while avoiding the tarring and feathering.
That’s true, Dan. They’re a tough crowd!
Read this article on mobile before going to bed but did not feel boring not felt like skipping, while reading the article.
May be its because of the statistical data and the bar chart that I kept zooming to take a closer look.
After postponing for long and not having clarity on what to do, Recently I started my blog on reviewing SaaS products.
Since my focus is on review articles, I was happy seeing it is a kind of evergreen content.
On the other hand, this post gave me insights on what type of long term content I can produce that can also support my reviews.
Like “the 3 best seo tools of 2021” + “how to do seo the right way” + “Ahref’s review”.
Now there is evergreen content and content clusters as well.
Thank you so much Brian for the article. You brought light before going to bed.
You’re welcome, Avinas. You definitely can’t go wrong with that approach.
Hi Brian, Thanks for trawling through 3.6bn posts. I had my suspicions about Twitter and Pinterest for a while so thanks for confirming.
You’re welcome, Hazel. Although I can’t take the credit: BuzzSumo did all of the legwork when it came to finding and analyzing the data from their platform.
Thank you Brian for this detailed study. I will sure focus on evergreen content.
Sounds good, Bob.
Superb insights, Brian! Kinda surprising that Pinterest shares don’t correlate with evergreen content, but it’s good to know. As a previous BuzzSumo report noted, research-based content does best.
Thanks Priya. I was surprised to see that too. There are definitely plenty of trends on Pinterest. But it seems like a fairly evergreen platform.
Thanks for sharing this amazing article, Brian. Interesting to know that “list” and “how to” posts are the most evergreen content format.
I also find that putting posts that reflect the current year tend to attract more people too because of FOMO.
Thanks Gallen. Same here: adding the year to the title tag definitely makes a dent.
Super interesting. One reason why I think 2020 and 2021 do so well is that as the searcher I want the most accurate and current information, therefore, I’m more likely to head over to a result with a recent/current year in the title.
I find it frustrating to visit a result that was written years ago, regardless of industry. I’m not sure if the information is still accurate. As such, I typically adjust the search results to show the last year’s results. But it’s an extra step for me to take = less convenient. A business/website with lots of content – go back and update your posts! 🙂
Awesome study Brian!
Thanks Alie. That’s my theory as well. Especially for certain searches, it’s super important to make sure you’re reading updated stuff. And having the year in the title tag emphasizes that the post is either new or updated.
Thanks Brian and Buzzsumo,
Excellent work with some very interesting and helpful results,
Thanks for this information Brian! It wasn’t a mistake subscribing in your email list. Got lots of work to do for my blog!
You’re welcome, Oscar 👍👍👍
Brian, this has crystallised so many things for me, thanks so much.
You’re welcome, Craig. Glad you found it useful.
It’s really a huge number of articles you have analyzed! This made the article like a research paper. Very useful to me. Thanks.
Another one question rising in my mind! I am following your since 2016 or 17 and also Neil Patel too. Now I want to know is there any possibility to launch your any keyword research tool like Ubbersuggest! After all, you also one of the leader of SEO and Blogging industry. Very curious I am.
Thanks Sadhan. I don’t think so. Backlinko and Exploding Topics are keeping me pretty busy.
Hmmm, pretty interesting stats. Will be another epic hit brian. (Shared on Twitter)
List posts and how-to posts are the keys. Even, when I looked into my analytics they are one driving most of the traffic.
I was surprised to see a 3.6 billion number which seemed to be 3.5 times more than the last study.
Even, I was surprised with the twitter stat. Seems like Twitter didn’t have much importance for promotion in long term.
Thanks Shehraj. Twitter definitely has its place. But the platform is more for what’s going on right now vs. sharing evergreen stuff.
Hey Brian, thanks for sharing.
No worries, Sanu.
Really. Props to BuzzSumo for providing (and analyzing) this massive data set.
I wonder what about content based on story telling? I think people like reading stories.
Good question, Luke. We didn’t look into story-focused content. But you’re right: those can stand the test of time for sure.
Thanks Brian, I’m looking forward to use your tips 👍
You’re welcome, Martin.
These are a bunch of ready-to-implement tips and insights. Thanks a lot!
You’re welcome, Esha.
That is insane. 3.6 billion articles. But thanks Brain for sharing. Without any doubt, your articles are really helpful. But one question, people tend to change title of their old post and include the current year number. Is that really helpful. Oftenly, saw on youtube, where the video is even three years old, but each year they just update its title, and include the current year number.
Hi David, good question there. I do that myself if the video’s content is still relevant to the current year. If not, I just remove the year from the title and description.
Totally not a surprise that how-to guides are right up there in terms of being evergreen. I found that these ranked better with bespoke illustrations too. Great post, Brian.
Thanks Paul. Same here: my guides tend to bring in traffic for years. And not just SEO traffic. For example, my guide to copywriting still gets shared on Twitter regularly (2+ years since I first published it).
Thanks Brian. This is a lot of data 3.6 billion articles… I think this piece content going help us to be a better Copywriter SEO…
But one question: what’s about story telling? It still working or not…
Hi Claude, you’re welcome. We didn’t look into storytelling. But that would be interesting to analyze.
Undoubtedly a great contents and you provided lots of information. Does having year impact the evergreen score in the next year?
Hi Azad, according to this analysis (and BuzzSumo’s evergreen score) yes. It could also be partly based on the fact that people tend to update their content over time. And add the current year to their title tag when they do.
I had also experienced that list post and how to post are always evergreen but never backed by data/research.
After getting 3.6 billion article data research, i can surely say i am on right path.
Thanks for your through study. There is lack of in-depth research about different aspects of blogging but Backlinko always comes to rescue us.
Thank you for that.
Great data, Brian — much appreciated!
With respect to your last couple of findings, would content on online company registration and bar exam preparation fall into the business, technology, or any other (perhaps, legal) industry (vertical)?
You’re welcome, Dmytro. I’d say that falls under business.
Thanks a lot for your clarification, Brian!
Brian sir you are a gem of a person!
Awesome! thanks for the info
Happy to help Maria
As always, very insightful.
A few surprises…………..
………….like Reddit having such a high score for engaged content becoming evergreen.
I thought I would see Youtube taking the top spot.
Quite an eye opener and a good option to explore
Thanks. We actually didn’t look at YouTube. If we did, I’d also bet that would be #1 by a mile.
I really enjoyed the content in the post on backlinko thanks for opening my eyes and give me more ideas to go about my blog knowing something that has to do with evergreen words when it come to content writing and also pointing out the right niche that trend with time online thanks
No worries, Daniel. Happy to help.
Really good content! Opened some eyes here! I myself has been pretty bad in sharing my content on social platsforms in the past but saw you mentioning it in a previous post. I must start to share more of my own material on my socials and try to write more evergreen posts.
I usually remove and change the year from my posts as the get older. And write better titles 🙂 Thanx for sharing!
Thanks Petter. Same here: I always update the year in my title when I update the post.
Great analysis as usual.
Do the number of shares themselves impact Google’s rankings or is it just an indicator on the likelihood to get more links?
Thanks Aaron. Google doesn’t use social signals as a ranking signal. But, as you said, they’re a good way to get eyeballs on your content.
After reading this article, I took a look at my own blog’s stats. They are consistent with what you present here. In particular, I have written very few ‘how to’ posts, but most of the few which I have written are still among my most popular posts, even years after they were posted.
Interesting, Sara. Same here: my how-to and list posts tend to do best over time.
Thanks, Brian for this awesome study.
No worries, Ayush.
Wow! I’m always amazed by each time I searched for anything concerning blogging when I see “Backlinko” mehn! you have a solution to everything, like everything. Thanks, Brian 🙏🏾
“Key Takeaway: Podcast episodes tend to create a buzz early on. But very few podcast episodes continue to receive shares and links over the long term.”
This is particularly useful for the company I’m working for right now. A few of our competitors in the e-learning niche are getting higher ranking and generating more traffic because of podcasts. But these podcasts are fairly new. I’m interested to see if the trend continues to deliver results for them in the long term or if they’re going to wane over time.
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