Why Blog Post Traffic Drops So Fast – and How to Make Yours Last

Just how long does a blog post last before it’s forgotten about forever?

Turns out, not that long.

A recent study from Izea and the Halverson Group shows that while a blog post’s popularity spikes right after it’s published, it isn’t long before that post is buried and all but totally ignored.

After studying 500 posts published between 2010 and 2012, they found that a blog post gets 72% of its total impressions within 30 days of publication. From then on, it gets barely any traffic at all.

Lifespan of a blog post

Source: http://www.clearslide.com/v/nzs728

See that long, skinny tail along the bottom? It shows that it doesn’t take long before a blog post’s daily impressions are a teensy fraction of what it got when it was brand new.

That’s bleak.

Here’s a closer look at that first month or two:

First two months of a blog post

Source: http://www.clearslide.com/v/nzs728

What they call the “Shout” phase – the initial burst of popularity – only lasts about three days. After that, it’s all downhill for that blog post you worked so hard on.

Blog posts don’t die because they’re bad. They die because they’re forgotten.

So how do you stop your blog posts from meeting a fate like this? How do you make those impressions spike again and again, instead of dwindling off into nothingness?

Social media

It’s okay to admit it: sharing the same old content on social over and over can feel boring and pointless. You have so much new stuff all the time – and that stuff is way more fun to share! It’s so shiny!

Don’t let shiny new content make you forget about your older stuff. Otherwise, nobody will find it.

For example, our Facebook page grows by more than 1,000 fans per month. If we share a blog post today that we shared 30 days ago, it could be seen by 1,000 brand new people or more!

But does sharing it over and over actually work? Let’s take a closer look.

One of our very first posts on this blog was a guide to figuring out when you should post on social media. We posted in on January 2, 2015 – as of right now, just over 260 days ago. According to the average lifespan of a blog post, you’d expect this post’s traffic to peak early and fizzle out over time. It should look like this:

First 260 Days

But instead, it looks like this:

First 260 Days

Instead of going through an initial “Shout” phase and then growing a long, sad tail, this post peaks again and again over the course of nine months. Most of those peaks aren’t as high as when the post was first published, but they’re still a lot better than traffic numbers that do nothing but shrink day after day.

Even though we published this post months ago, it’s evergreen content that we can share on social over and over. And because we share it on social over and over, it keeps getting new visitors all the time.

Social media isn’t everything, though. There’s also this next thing you shouldn’t forget:

Email

You know that a well-constructed email newsletter can drive crazy traffic to your blog.

Who said it can only drive traffic to your newest stuff, though?

Relate new information to older content to give it a boost.

For example, on August 12, Twitter made a change to its DM function. By talking about that and relating it to a post we wrote about their last change to DMs – one we’d published all the way back in May – we pumped new life into a post that was still relevant, but had been buried.

New life for an old post

Though the post was originally published in May, its traffic started spiking again in August.

It doesn’t have to just be your newsletter, either.

For example, when someone first signs up for your mailing list, you might make sure they get an email directing them toward your best blog posts. Similarly, we point new users toward blog content that we think will help them get the most use out of Edgar.

Driving new traffic to older posts isn’t something you have to do so actively all the time, either – in fact, it’s something you can make happen pretty passively, by doing things like this next one:

Interlinking

Ever gone down the Wikipedia rabbit hole?

You know the feeling – you start out reading about one thing, then you see a link to another page that sounds interesting, and another, and another, and before you know it, you’ve spent 20 minutes reading about the cultural impact of the Spice Girls. (Dang, how did we get here from an article on the Ottoman Empire?)

 

It happens. When you’re reading about something interesting, you want to read more about it! (And more, and more.) Your audience wants to read more, too – so make it easy for them.

When you’re writing a blog post, look for opportunities to link back to older posts that are relevant to your topic. Don’t make your reader wonder if you’ve ever written more in-depth about these subjects, and definitely don’t make them go to Google to look up someone else’s blog posts about them! Turn your blog into a giant Chutes and Ladders board that will help them go from one post to the next.

How can you make this easier? Keep track of what topics you’re covering and where those posts live. Blogging platforms like WordPress make it easy, because you can categorize posts as you publish them.

If you’re not comfortable with that, though, just maintain a list or a spreadsheet somewhere. That way, when you’re writing a post about a business that gained 20,000 Twitter followers in six months, you can refer to your list of other Twitter-related blog posts and find places to link to them in your new one. (See what we did there?)

But when it comes to driving traffic to your older blog posts, though, it isn’t all up to you – you can actually make it a lot easier for your readers to help keep those things alive, too.

Shareability

This is another example of how you can make it easier for people to do things they already want to do.

People want to share content online – all you have to do is make it simple.

Set up your blog with the tools that make social sharing easy – you’ll see on the side of your screen right now and at the bottom of this post, we have buttons that make it as easy as clicking the mouse:

Social sharing buttons

These aren’t real buttons. They’re pictures of buttons. That might be confusing.

The simpler you make sharing, the better off you’ll be – whether you’re experimenting with plugins, generating Click-to-Tweets, or just giving people an easy way to share via email. (It all sounds so simple, but you’d be amazed how often people skip this step!)

Don’t let a good blog post shrivel and die

There’s no reason a good, evergreen blog post should peak just once and then disappear. By promoting your posts consistently and keeping it up long after they’re published, you’ll help them live longer, attract more traffic, and keep on kickin’!

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