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From the Trenches

Evergreen vs. Trending Topics in HealthTech: What’s the Right Balance?

Yvonne Lyons | August 19, 2021
Trending Topics vs Evergreen Content

As a healthtech company, it can be tempting to use trending news about new regulations, new technologies, or healthcare concerns (especially something like a pandemic) as your source of content ideas. Newsjacking – taking advantage of trending news or an event to promote your service or product – grabs readers’ attention and generates a spike in traffic. And who doesn’t want a spike in traffic?

But that traffic spike doesn’t get you long-term content marketing success.

OK, so then you need evergreen topics, right? But an entire editorial calendar full of evergreen topics isn’t necessarily the answer either. And this is especially true for the healthcare technology audience that is surrounded by changing news daily and/or whose technology is directly involved in the frontline of healthcare delivery.

Here’s how to decide what the balance between trending and evergreen content should be in your healthtech company — and what the value is of each. 

What is evergreen content?

Evergreen content is attractive and engaging to your audience now and in the future, too. Like the trees, it’s always green and always fresh. It can cover the foundational information about your industry, best practices for addressing a particular problem, or tips and tricks for improving operations or workflow. An evergreen topic provides value over the long term. It doesn’t depend on what’s happening in the news.

While evergreen content might not produce the traffic spikes that trending, news-driven topics can create in the moment, an evergreen piece that is optimized well for search can pay dividends for years to come. We know that search engines love fresh content, but what search engines love even more are topics that explain a concept or perspective in depth. Content that shows real expertise on its subject.

The big caveat here is that to truly show expertise and authority on an evergreen topic, your content needs to be remarkable. And that takes a lot of work. Keywords for significant industry terms – especially in the healthtech space – are often very competitive, so that remarkable content has to include a very strategic approach to keyword optimization. But when you get it right, engagement grows, search engines give that piece of content more authority and rank it higher, and your site gets more traffic. 

What does the healthtech marketer need to know?

A topic like, “How healthcare organizations can improve efficiency with virtual patient observation” answers a question for potential customers to inform their research. One that ultimately informs their purchase decision.

When you are choosing topics for evergreen content, pay close attention to the target keywords your company wants to own and build authority around those. And once you win one of those topics, don’t just celebrate and move on. Go back to your piece regularly and optimize/refresh to maintain that coveted Page 1 location. 

Keep in mind that there can be ways to relate “virtual patient observation” from my example above to a trending topic as well. Look for ways to link subjects together and further build on those key terms you want to own. This works whether it’s with evergreen content or a quick-hit trending topic that works for the same subject.    

What is trending content?

Trending content is relevant right now. It focuses on a topic that creates a frenzy of conversation and coverage in the moment But it becomes irrelevant quickly, over a period of months or even weeks.

When your company creates content related to a trending topic, it often creates spikes in readership. And those spikes can feel like big success in the moment – you’re getting more visitors to your site, right? Isn’t that the goal? But those users are largely the fly-by-night type. They arrived for that piece related to today’s news, but their visit to your site doesn’t mean that you have built a relationship or any trust with them.

Once that trending topic becomes stale, your traffic will dwindle. Many of those new visitors will be gone. Too much focus on trending content may mean you’re looking too much at the “now” without any plans for growing that engaged audience (although in some sectors, a heavier percentage of trending topics does make sense).

So why even bother with trending topics?

Trending topics aren’t useless. They show readers you are paying attention to what your industry is talking about. Your regular audience feels confident they’ve made the right choice putting their trust in you because you’ll have the answers they need for new developments. Also, keep in mind that while many of those fly-by-night users who come for a trending topic may never come back, a few good ones may stay and read more when they realize you really know what you’re talking about. 

What does the healthtech marketer need to know?

In healthtech, you have to include some trending topics in your content mix. And depending on your business, you may want to include quite a bit depending on current issues. But regardless of the percentage of trending topics you plan for, you shouldn’t always leave them to grow stale once a trend dies down.

In some cases you can update trending topics, especially subjects (like COVID-related content) that seem to be ever-changing. Refresh those pieces with updates on new guidance or information on how healthcare organizations have found interesting ways to use a particular technology you discussed.

You can also create a completely new but related piece of content to update your audience. If you made a prediction about how a certain healthcare technology was going to be used in ICUs at the beginning of COVID, create a complementary piece that compares what you thought would happen with what actually happened — or what you think will happen next. Link back to that original piece, of course, and make sure you’re always linking out to the most reputable sources (like the CDC or NIH), especially when discussing health guidance or regulations.

What’s the right balance between the evergreen and trending content?

Well, the answer to that depends on what your company does in the healthtech kingdom and what’s going on right now in the world.

If your product or service is directly related to and used by clinical staff in addressing a trending issue, you should focus more on what’s developing daily and being covered in the news. This means you need a defined and quick approval process internally. You don’t ever want to be the last to talk about a subject where your type of product or service can be a solution. Show that you are cognizant of the impact a crisis may have on frontline caregivers and healthcare organizations as a whole.

One important note: The more sensitive or urgent a situation is, the more you should be focused on educating. NOT selling. Goodwill can evaporate quickly by focusing on revenue when education and assistance are what’s called for.

Companies whose products and services are less involved in the healthcare frontlines can focus more on educating and establishing thought leadership with evergreen topics. The occasional nod to emergent subjects, though, is important to show that you are paying attention.

A good balance of trending and evergreen topics makes for a well-rounded content marketing effort. Plus it shows your audience that you understand who they are and what they care about. A smart balance of trending vs. evergreen topics is further proof that you are a thought leader in the space. The actual balance of the two areas depends on many factors, but the moral of this story is that you do need both in the healthtech space.

Want to learn more about how your healthcare technology company can plan for content marketing success? Download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A HealthTech Marketer’s Guide.” 

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About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communications.