A couple of years back I had written a post about the need to have some amount of timeless content on blogs in order to sustain traffic and readership. That was mainly in the context of search engine traffic which was probably the only source (almost) of visitors to a website then.
Several things have changed since then – Google search indexing algorithm updates, multi-fold increase in social media usage, changes in the content access devices and their form factors to name a few. In this context, I am forced to believe that content that is viral in nature will be the only sustainable entity in the online world where competition is always very high and the unexpected can happen anytime.
Why viral content is a must?
As you know, many webmasters have suffered from the recent search engine downgrades by Google (named after an animal close to extinction). If Google search is the only (or primary) content access point provider, you are basically tying your content’s visibility to Google. And if you are driving visitors to your blog via PPC advertising, again it’s highly likely that you are bound to Google AdWords landing page quality score policies etc.
Basically, in order to sustain, you have to start planning for a life for your content without any help from its current traffic sources such as search engines, word of mouth marketing by your subscribers or offline advertising. Going by the characteristics and culture of humans, I am tempted to believe that social media & networks will be outliving search engines in the long run and social search will be the new buzzword.
Now that social media is viral in nature (human links, connections, groups etc), it needs to be supplied with interesting content that itself is viral by character. A few bloggers had tried photo blogging and video blogging in the past but that was at a time when social media was still catching up. Probably they were ahead of time and failed. But the past two years or so, the content that’s viral in nature when supplied to viral channels has proven to result in huge traffic, exponential increase in subscription and a lot of money via conversions.
Examples of good viral content
As I have mentioned several times in the past, it’s not good to have only passive stories and news content on a blog. Sustainable blogs should also have some services, products, freebies etc packaged with it. In other words, there should be something other than plain text that is worth sharing or of use for the readers.
The following are some examples of viral content:
- Free software (themes, plugins, tools, utilities, webservices, browser toolbars)
- Interesting videos (thoughts, humour, sensational)
- eBooks, auto responder/subscription based tutorials,…
- Social apps, games (e.g. facebook apps) – different from regular software
(Of course, there are bad examples as well including spyware, spam mails, yellow journalism content etc)
By the way, news driven viral content that provides spikes in traffic may be good for short term but it is good to have some content that has a good shelf life.
i.e. by the time it reaches the 100th or 1000th level of its circulation, it should be still valid.
Viral content in combination with naturally viral media is the way forward for blogs and websites in order to maintain sustainability. Now the thought for you is…
can your blog survive if the current search traffic is no more there?