In this post Eric from Photography Bay examines the Long Tail as it applies to blogging.
Content is king. Yawn . . . right? You know this tired phrase is the gospel of blogging, but did you ever wonder why content is really king? You spend your time developing and massaging your posts to create the next bit of killer content. It’s the post that hits the front page of Digg, gets Stumbled to death or even Slashdotted. That’s why content is king, right? Wrong.
Content is King Because of the Long Tail of Blogging.
In 2004, Chris Anderson coined the term “The Long Tail” in a Wired Magazine article, which he followed up with a “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More” (Chris Anderson)“>book and a blog on the subject. If you’re not familiar with the phrase or its meaning, here’s a very brief summary from Chris himself:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
(Picture by Hay Kranen / PD – via Wikipedia)
Example – Amazon.com
One of the best examples is Amazon.com, which provides consumers with access to the latest and greatest hit products, books and more. Sales of the bestseller books, however, pale in comparison to sales of the many obscure books in Amazon’s catalog. Hence, the long tail of the book market is where the majority of sales are coming from – and it’s growing.
Hot Content vs. Archived Content
Apply these same principles to your blog. That killer super-dugg post is great . . . for a day or two. Granted, the super-dugg post is sometimes great for added readers, linkbacks and helping your blog grow. It’s the long tail, however, that keeps your blog alive and thriving. While that traffic spike is great, if you adhere to publishing solid content as ProBlogger encourages, then your old, quality content overshadows even that super-dugg masterpiece.
Eyes on Photography Bay Stats
For instance, have a gander at this recent Photography Bay post on a new patent from camera manufacturer Canon, which covers some crazy new iris scanner for a photographer’s eye. This post turned out to be extremely popular for a few days, producing 5,839 pageviews on Wednesday, Feb. 13 – thanks to being Slashdotted and coverage by several tech sites.
The total page views that day were 14,721. The lesson here is that even though the killer post for that day was miles above any other traffic, the rest of the content on Photography Bay bettered the killer post.
Some of these posts are several months old. If you look further down the list of traffic-generating posts (470 different pages this particular day), you would see that some posts are closer to a year in age. That’s pretty cool to me because Photography Bay is only about 15 months old now. Now, think about 2, 3, or 5 years down the road . . . the long tail gets much longer and becomes a lot more significant.
The long tail matters because of Google, linkbacks, readers and other requisite traffic-generating resources. If it weren’t for that catalog of niche posts that we build everyday we blog, posts like the Canon iris patent post might never take off.
Please note, however, that this theory may be more true for some blog niches than others. Tech blogs often need that fresh content coming in to keep reader interest, since new gadgets and technology are more interesting than older gadgets (e.g., Googling for HDMI cables versus S-VHS cables). On the other hand, a niche blog on the healthcare industry will still grab Google traffic for the search “medicare anti-kickback laws” regardless of the age of the post. The topic has been around for a couple of decades and isn’t going anywhere in the near future.
The Right Analogy for the Long Tail
Contrary to what Read Write Web may say, the long tail is where the money’s at. Rather than analyzing a given blog’s posts and income, Read Write Web applied the long tail analysis to the blogosphere as a whole. While the data conforms to the long tail, the analogy and, thus, the conclusion, are flawed. Applying the principals of the long tail in the same manner as the Amazon example above, the long tail analysis properly demonstrates that a blog requires a significant amount of niche content to fit the model. With the content in hand, the long tail will wag the blog.
Google regularly accounts for more than 50% of Photography Bay’s traffic, which is why I must strive to continue to make that long tail longer. Today’s killer post is part of next month’s long tail traffic – and I want a longer tail! Regular, quality posts ensure that there will be a long tail tomorrow and that, my friends, is why content is king.
What are your thoughts on the long tail of blogging? Have you seen the long tail wagging your blog? How can we leverage these principals to make our positions in our niches even stronger?