Study: 99% of Articles Reach Peak Traffic Within 72 Hours

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

One of the challenges of content marketing is getting the right content to the right people at the right time. A recent study suggests that the window of opportunity may be smaller than many people realize. According to a small-scale analysis of multiple web sites, the traffic from an article drops precipitously within the first week after it’s published.

The research comes from Boost The News, a content management and promotion software, that tracked the traffic that came from each link. They found that traffic drop tremendously after the first day and the first week of publication.

The study is based on an analysis of 30 articles that were posted on various websites and blogs. The team analyzed the amount of traffic received from each on a daily basis for four months.

infografika_trafficOfOnlineArticles_v2For three out of four (74 percent) articles, the peak traffic occurs on the day the article published. For one in four (25 percent) articles, the peak occurs on the either the first or second day after publication. To put it another way, 99 percent of articles reach their peak traffic potential within the first 72 hours from publication.

This doesn’t mean there’s no hope for article that don’t get an immediate response. Though rare, about 1 in 100 articles will reach their peak traffic after the 72 hour window. And this just refers to peak traffic, content may continue to steadily bring in visitors, even if at a reduced rate.

With so many content producers creating new online content all the time, it makes sense that older content will fade into the background. It’s just sobering how quickly that can happen. According to the Boost The News research, within a week of publication, traffic drops, on average, by 90 percent and after a month, by 98 percent. After one month, the average daily traffic of articles is equivalent to merely 1.7 percent of the initial traffic during the peak.

“The impact of SEO on long-term traffic of online articles is minimal,” wrote Daniel Slomka in a blog post describing the research. “When the initial buzz around articles fades away and no promotion of the article is taking place, organic traffic stands for less than 2% than it used to be (for big publishers, 2% of the first peak of traffic can still mean a lot of traffic – but nevertheless, there is still a huge gap in content visibility that cannot be bridged without promotion)”.

While this is a relatively small scale study, there are ways to use this data to create better content marketing campaigns. The takeaway for business owners and marketers is that they need to spread their content quickly after they initially publish it. The short window for maximum effectiveness means that for the most important content should be spread through paid promotion to make sure it reaches its intended audience.

This means using social media marketing, email newsletters or other distribution methods to give the piece the greatest possible reach. Also, it means that if marketers want to draw people’s attention to their older, but still relevant content, they will need to use paid promotion.

One of the keys to effective content marketing is continually creating new content. This research shows just how essential fresh content is for keeping traffic flowing to a website. For more information on content marketing, read this article on why promoting your content is a good idea.


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