Looking for an easy way to increase traffic and content views on your website? Here's a trick that will encourage visitors to take a look at some of your older articles, and get them talking about them again.
This idea works best on content-driven websites that publish a lot of “evergreen” articles as opposed to mostly seasonal or news-focused fare. Ideally, you also permit comments to your articles, and have a mechanism in place that allows readers or registered site members to rate your articles – even if it's as simple as a thumbs up or thumbs down. You'll also need a year's backlog of published items.
Finally, you'll need to be prepared to do some number crunching. Take a look at all of your articles, and see which ones received the most comments, the most thumbs up, the most views, the most links, and the most “retweets” on Twitter or posts to other social media. You may need some help from your technical support or web hosting company to get these numbers, if you're not already using some kind of web analytics application that can give you the figures.
Take the information you get, and put together some “top ten” lists for posting on your site. For example, you can take the list of 10 articles that received the most views, and title it “[YourSiteName]'s Most-Read Articles of 2010.” Kick off this post with an introductory paragraph about the previous year, a second one that mentions common themes (if any) of these top 10 articles, and then launch into the list. Link the title of each article to the article itself, and provide a sentence or two that introduces the article's topic, and perhaps why you think it's so popular.
You can follow this technique for all of your article lists; you'll just have to change the titles. For the ones receiving the most thumbs up, you might use “The Most Appreciated Articles of the Year;” for the ones with the most comments, “The Most Talked-About Articles” or even “The Most Controversial Articles” if the comments warrant it. Obviously, the list of articles with the most links could be “The Most Shared Articles of the Year,” noting that readers thought enough of these pieces to share them with friends.
If you don't want to risk boring your readers with lists, and you don't want to roll them all into one article (as SEOmoz did not too long ago), you may want to spread them out over a couple of weeks. This way, readers can take their time to absorb one list, reading and thinking about the articles before you post the next one.
The idea behind posting these lists is to remind readers and visitors about some excellent content that they might have forgotten – or missed. Such lists help them remember why they enjoy visiting your site. They can read the old items, and pass a link to the lists – or any of the articles cited in the lists – on to their friends. These lists often inspire plenty of reader comments all on their own, especially if you kick off the conversation by concluding the post with “What articles did we publish here in the past year that made it onto YOUR list of favorites? Let us know!”
When readers actually tell you which ones they loved, and why, pay attention. They're telling you what they want to see more of, which should give you some excellent ideas for the kinds of articles you should publish in the coming year. Meanwhile, they're helping generate new interest in older content. Good luck!
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