Content online has a short life-cycle. Few days after being published, when it is taken off from homepages and down in the social media feeds, its traffic decreases dramatically, and the content enter a stage of silent death. It doesn’t have to be this way: we present 6 free tools that enable you to bring your content back to life, even when it already seems impossible.
Traffic. The biggest friend and the biggest enemy of every online publisher. In a perfect world, every article would enjoy massive traffic, relying on viral sharing on social media, strong search engine optimization, and word-to-mouth. In reality, articles live a very short life, and even articles that start with a big buzz are doomed to a silent death in the no man’s land of online content.
To give you an idea of how an average article’s traffic life-cycle looks like, we took this example from the statistical tool of Boost the News. This is how an article’s traffic looks like:
Stage I: Birth and Primary Peak
The article is just “born”. Its publication is usually followed by a placement on the home page of the publisher and links on its social media channels. As shares start flowing, the articles visibility is high, and traffic is at its peak.
Stage II: Drastic Drop
The first buzz lasts shortly. After few days traffic begins to fall. The article is usually removed from the home page, and its position on social networks’ news feeds begins to decrease, leading to a drastic drop in traffic.
Stage III: Reanimation
The publisher attempts to “resuscitate” traffic by reanimating the article, among others by repositioning it on the homepage or reposting it on social media. A slight spike in traffic is visible at this stage.
Stage IV: Silent Death
When the effect of the reanimation extinguishes, traffic drops again, and this time it remains on a low note for good. This is when content goes to die. It is eventually subject to minimal short-term spikes, when some Indiana Jones accidentally finds it in the fifth page of a Google search and shares it, but nothing beyond.
How to wake your content up from the dead
The death of an article is a painful issue. You work so hard to make the article happen, put so much work and effort, research, write, edit, proofread, post, promote…all this to see its traffic drowning after a few days? There must be a better way!
And indeed, there is. A smart content distribution strategy takes into consideration long-term traffic, and focuses on promoting the article not only in the immediate time after publishing, but also long months (and even years) after it.
Especially for you, here are six powerful tools that will help you bring your content back to life. The big plus – they are all free!
Let’s start from the most simple rule: the best place to promote your content is…your own website. It only makes sense – you promote content to an audience that is already on the site, already in the mood of reading your articles, and already interested in your topics. Chances they will move on to read the next article are significantly higher.
We know Outbrain mostly as a tool to monetize content by promoting other pages in the form of native ads. But why not use it to promote your own content? Save some spots on your Outbrain “recommended content” list, and promote your old (but still relevant!) content.
Boost the News
Promoting your content to existing readers is an effective strategy, as the case of AddThis proves. But first, you need to decide which articles are performing good and which need a little boost. Boost the News lets you analyze the real impact of your articles by estimating their potential reach. What is more, you can deliver news that are important for you to a larger audience using our tool (disclosure –I work at Boost the News).
On-site promotion and retargeting are two useful ways of serving your content to your loyal readers. Another proven way is e-mail. Everybody agrees that e-mail marketing is back in business, and is more efficient than ever before. One of the most popular tools for this purpose (I use it myself) is MailChimp. It is usually used to promote newly-published articles, but how can it serve to increase traffic of old articles?
Take a look at what the folks from Contently do in their e-mail digest:
By inserting older pieces of “evergreen” content among new articles, the old article “rides the wagon” of the new ones. Readers are keen to read the fresh new articles, and are likely to enter the older articles and read them as well. It is a great way to reanimate content by pushing it with the help of new content!
However, learn from Contently’s lesson, and be careful: if you overuse this method, loyal readers, who have already read the content, will get the feeling that you are getting repetitive.
After having saturated the promotion options on-site and through content ads, make use of another popular method of content distribution: social media. There is no need to introduce the social-media giants, in which you are probably already active. But here is how you can elaborate a better long-term distribution strategy:
HootSuite enables you to plan and automatize your social media activities. When you publish an article and plan sharing on social platforms using HootSuite, take the time to plan its distribution in the long-term, and plan sharing weeks, months and even years in advance! Later, when you forget you even planned it, your planned-in-advance posts will “spike” your bring the article’s traffic every once in a while. It’s definitely worth it!
Speaking of social media, who said that your content is the only one you can promote? Every social media professional knows, that sharing other people’s content is key to building good relations and showing expertise in your topic.
Sharing other people’s content is something you anyway do as part of a smart social media strategy. Snip.ly makes it even more effective as a way to promote your own content. Here is an example of how it works:
I just read an interesting article by Jeff Bullas about the importance of infographics. As I read it, I recall that for our company blog, we’ve once written an article with tips on how to create a great infographic. Readers of Jeff’s article, who are obviously interested in infographics, will be happy to read more about how to create a good infographic. Our article would make a great reading for them, but how will they reach our article? Hmmm…how about I attach my article to Jeff’s? That’s exactly what I do with Snip.ly!
Here is how Jeff’s article looks after I attached my article to his:
Ta-dam! I can now share his article on social media, and get a double effect – sharing interesting content by a renown influencer, plus gaining more visibility for my own content.
It’s important to state: snip.ly is not “stealing” anyone’s content. Jeff wouldn’t be angry on me for “attaching” my article to his, because every time I share it, I’m basically sharing his article. So in the end, everybody wins. Here are some more cheeky tricks to use snip.ly to promote your own content.
Flipboard is a great content curation and distribution tool. With it, you can collect articles you have read and enjoyed into one page, resembling a newspaper’s front page, and distribute it. Using Flipboard to promote your own content resembles a bit the e-mail strategy – use the attractiveness of other articles to push your older articles, but this time on an even bigger scale! Here is how you can do it:
- Gather interesting content by the most popular influencers in one board.
- Among these articles, insert your older article, just like this:
Did you notice which one of the articles is the old one?
- Share the board on social media, not forgetting to tag the influencers, to increase the chances of the board being shared:
Using the popularity of content that is going viral at the moment (and relying on a push by influencers), your old content gets shared more times, and has better chances of being read.
Time to start opening some graves
If you’ve made it to this point of the article, it means you are serious about your content. Congratulations! You now know that a professional content-distribution strategy takes into consideration not only the initial “buzz” around the article, but also its long-term performance.
Promoting articles in a long-term perspective is essential for your website. Think of how many archived articles you have, and imagine the impact it would have, to have the traffic of each one of them increased by two or three times. Incredible!
There are no excuses for not using these 6 tools. They are free, easy to use, and most importantly – effective. The choice is yours – you can either get it going, or let your content rest in peace…