New research conducted by Boost the News shows that online articles enjoy a short period of high traffic followed by a sharp decline.
Whether you are an online publisher fighting to get your articles read and shared, or an online marketer scratching your head to improve content marketing ROI, your nightmares can probably be translated into one word: traffic. The struggle to maintain high traffic to articles is one of the main worries of all parties in the online content industry: publishers, bloggers, and content marketers.
A new study by Boost the News shows that marketers and publishers have a very good reason to be worried: according to it, online articles enjoy high traffic for merely few days, and after one month, more than 98% of the traffic is lost.
The research analyzed 30 articles, published on different websites and blogs, of varying sizes. It analyzed the traffic of the articles through a time span of 4 months, from September to December 2015, with data from the Boost the News data panel.
Given the fact that the research analyzed websites of varying sizes, results are presented in relative terms, not in absolute ones.
The traffic analysis pointed at the following phenomena:
In 74% of articles, traffic reaches its peak on the day the article is published.
25% of articles reach their traffic peak on the first or second day after publication. Less than 1% of the articles reached their traffic peak more than 2 days after the day of publication: the hypothesis is that these are cases in which articles were published tentatively in a hardly-visible section of the website, and exposed and promoted only after a certain time.
The peak in traffic is quickly followed by a drastic drop. Within one week, traffic of articles drops in average by 90%.
After one month, the average daily traffic of articles is equivalent to merely 1.7% of the initial traffic during the peak.
Sporadic one-time spikes in traffic were noticed, usually within the first one or two weeks from publication. Associated with repositioning of article in the homepage of the website or on social media, or with a link/share from another influential website, these spikes lasted only for one or two days, after which traffic returned to average rates. No significant spikes were spotted after the first month following the publication.
This is how it looks like graphically:
What it means for publishers and marketers
The results of this research are of big importance both for online publishers and for online marketers.
For online publishers, the results mean that competition over readers is harder than ever and that content must constantly be created and promoted.
For marketers, they put a big question mark on the efficacy of content marketing efforts. According to a study by Hubspot, sponsored articles on blogs cost in average between 100 and 1000 USD, whereas sponsored articles in bigger publications cost in average more than 1500 USD. A brand or business investing several thousands of dollars on a sponsored article should know that this investment lasts for few days, and its impact disappears shortly after.
Conclusion: sustainable long-term promotion strategy a crucial need for publishers and marketers
According to the results of the research, the impact of SEO on long-term traffic of online articles is minimal. When the initial buzz around articles fades away and no promotion of the article is taking place, organic traffic stands for less than 2% than it used to be (for big publishers, 2% of the first peak of traffic can still mean a lot of traffic – but nevertheless, there is still a huge gap in content visibility that cannot be bridged without promotion).
Especially when it comes to sponsored articles, marketers and publishers must agree on the terms of a sustainable, long-term promotion strategy for the article. Without it, most of the effort invested in creating the content will be irrelevant after one week.