On the whole, standards are going up, and much of what is available on the internet is pretty well written. Despite being well written, most articles posted online don’t get the kind of traffic they deserve
So why do so many pieces of content fail?
And how can you make sure your content succeeds?
Monitoring your traffic
Most people track the visitors to their website. This is no bad thing.
For many years I looked at my individual websites in terms of traffic generated by the site as a whole.
I kept track of monthly unique visitors.
I looked at where my visitors came from and put quite a lot of thought into attracting the right sort of visitors.
Most of all, I put a huge amount of effort into generating large amounts of content. I was a content generating machine!
But I gave very little thought to which of those pieces of content were succeeding.
In fact, lets be honest here.
I gave NO thought to which of those pieces of content were succeeding.
What defines a successful piece of written content?
If we are going to talk about the success or failure of our blog posts, we should probably define what we mean by those terms
A post or page has failed if no one visits it.
It doesn’t matter how well written, entertaining, or informative the article is, if no-one ever sees it, then it has effectively failed.
A successful piece of content is one that people flock to, and one that makes those people want to read more content on the same website or by the same author.
It isn’t necessarily the best prose, or most perfectly crafted post in the world. But it is attractive, readable and enjoyable
To achieve that success, the content must either be attractive to search engines, or both discoverable and attractive to visitors on the other pages of your site.
Are you writing what people want?
To fulfil either of those criteria above, you need to be writing material that provides what people are looking for.
That may seem blindingly obvious to you now, but it was something I completely failed to consider on an article by article basis, for four years.
People were flocking to the site so I assumed that all the content I wrote on my websites was playing an equal part and was of equal value.
More or less.
And when Lucy joined me in working on the site, I passed this flawed strategy along to her.
We both wrote our socks off. For YEARS on end.
And never asked ourselves the most important question in the world
Are we writing what people want?
But my traffic is growing so I am on the right track
We thought, because our traffic was growing, that we were on the right track
We were doing what people all over the world do every day. We were working harder. Much harder.
But not smarter.
What we discovered, when a near disaster put me in touch with an excellent SEO consultant, was that the vast majority of our traffic was being generated by just a small proportion of our posts.
And what is more, this is true for ALL blogs.
On many small blogs, you will find that a quarter to half of all the blog’s traffic is generated by two or three individual articles.
On a well-run blog, this disproportionate dominance of the leading articles will diminish over time, but it will never disappear completely.
For example, on the Happy Puppy Site which is two years old, the leading article brings in 20% of the site’s traffic. On the Labrador Site which is five years old, the leading article brings in 4% of the site’s traffic.
Our consultant taught us how to analyse the performance of our individual articles, and what an eye opener that was for us!
One of the things we’ll look at in further articles is how you can figure out whether you are too reliant on too few articles for your traffic, depending on the age of your site, and what to do about it if you are.
Identifying what is working
To some extent this dominance of a few posts is inevitable. It’s Pareto’s Principle at work
If you do a ton of stuff, the chances are that 20% of it will give you 80% of the results.
The exciting part is, you can totally transform the fortunes of your blog, by figuring out which 20% is working and identifying why.
Don’t wait four years to do this though. This is a good example of where you can learn from my mistakes.
How to make sure your blog content succeeds
Most blog posts fail. Only a few succeed, and those that do need to be analysed to find out why.
The only way to do that is to keep excellent records and to update them regularly so that you can track changes and developments as they happen
We keep an excel spreadsheet for each of our websites, and that spreadsheet is crucial to our success.
I’ll be showing you exactly how I set up, and maintain our article spreadsheets, and how we use them to generate more traffic, in another article
And in the second part of this article, we’ll look at how you can analyse your published content, using a few free tools, and discover what works and what doesn’t
Publishing is just the beginning
The moment you hit that publish button and the time you spend promoting your articles after publication (you are doing that right?) is just the beginning.
The secret of success is to follow up and review each article at regular intervals. We’ll show you how to do just that
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