Content's Long Tail, and Why It Matters

Ian Lurie

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Sometimes, you just strike out. You spend a week researching that perfect link bait article, post it, get your friends to give you a Digg…
And nothing happens. Nada. You can hear the crickets chirping as your boss or client winds up a kick that’ll land you out on the street.
Don’t give up on that article just yet. Sometimes the payoff can come months, or even years, later.
For example: I wrote a letter to Google way back in May. It even included a cute rodent pleading for its life.
I published it, and grabbed the attention of 2 people: My wife, who I pestered until she looked at the article, and one of my copywriters, because I drove them crazy until they read it.
Sigh. Another flop. I shrugged and moved on.
But hold on! Today, 3 months later, the article suddenly received 2000+ page views in under 5 hours. Why? A burst of StumbleUpon traffic.
That burst of traffic also generated more links, a 5% rise in RSS subscribers, and that happy warm feeling I get when a small success beats back my normal Jewish angst.

4 Ways to Jump On Content’s Long Tail

You can’t guarantee long-tail results with content. For every article I’ve written that gets this kind of late attention, there are 10 that gather dust. But you can maximize the chance someone will notice your hard work:

  1. Stumble a truly worthy article. You never know when a few other Stumbleupon members will start giving you the thumbs up, and StumbleUpon traffic can often generate links.
  2. Link back to older articles from newer ones, when it’s relevant. A little reminder can go a long way.
  3. Use Feedburner, and make sure it works. If you use Feedburner to distribute your site’s RSS feed, then your articles have a better chance of making it into Google, and staying there. Folks may find you that way.
  4. Practice headline common sense. A great headline can keep an article alive for a long time. A bad one can lead to premature burial. Read Copyblogger’s most excellent headlines tutorials to learn all about the art of the great headline.

Content Lives Forever

On the internet, content lives forever (maybe just a long time, but ‘forever’ is more lyrical, don’t you think?). So approach each article you write as an investment in future traffic.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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