More Content = More Readers
It sounds simple enough: if you want more readers on a site, then you need more content. But what does that mean and why is it true? To answer these questions, we need to look at how sites get traffic and, in particular, how they get regular readers.
In the old days (1994-2003), search was everything, and for some sites it still is. However, for most content sites. search is no longer the main traffic source (it still is for product sites, mostly because they haven’t started using content marketing effectively yet). As the dominance of search has waned, the link economy has blossomed. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, etc. drive a significant and growing proportion of traffic to content sites. However, the traffic-generating power of links posted on those sources is ephemeral—a post on any of them has a half life measured in hours. To consistently keep the traffic coming, you need to publish more content.
More than half the content in most newspapers (and on their websites) is syndicated from other sources, such as news wire services. The fact that syndicated content didn’t originate on the site doesn’t actually matter as long as it’s new to the reader. The art and science behind maintaining and even growing readership is the act of choosing which articles from other sources will be published on your site. This is the primary value that editors and curators add to any publication: knowing what your audience likes to read and giving it to them.
Repost is in a unique position to observe this. We service thousands of publishers, and because we track both the original content they publish and the external content they syndicate from our other partners, our data show very clearly not only the benefits of posting more content but also which types of content appeal to the readers of any given site.
Across all of our partner sites, the average syndicated article (embedded using Repost) gets 86% of the page views that a site’s original articles get.
The implications of that 86% statistic are profound. If you post an article from an external source, it will generate additional traffic—as long as it meets two criteria. Those criteria are:
- The syndicated content must be relevant to your audience. Your editorial choices matter.
- You must promote syndicated content the same way you do your original content: tweet it, Facebook it, post it to LinkedIn, feature it on your home page, etc.
The 14% drop is due to two things: 1) sites don’t promote syndicated content as much as their original articles; and 2) search engines can’t drive traffic to content that is syndicated properly.
That’s it. The secret to getting more readers comes down to having more content. Every time you post content and share it socially, you generate another opportunity for people to discover your site and convert them into regular readers.
In a future posts, I’ll talk about how to find content for your audience, how to know which topics will play and which won’t, and the art of headline writing.