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Digital publishing trends for 2020 - 2. Long tail content comes into play to increase pageviews

  • 25 December 2019 by
  • Krishna Kumar
Digital publishing trends for 2020 - 2. Long tail content comes into play to increase pageviews

There are the small number of hardcore B2B publications that are not bothered about increasing digital readership beyond their core. And then there are all the others. For the others, the fight for readership and pageviews is no longer about getting more readers from the core. For established publishers, particularly B2B, the core reader is a given and the law of diminishing marginal returns will start to apply. Increasing pageviews and readership at the core will get increasingly more difficult and costly. So, what do you do? The two obvious choices are to expand your core to add additional audiences or get the occasional reader.

Long tail is an oft repeated word in the world of search engine optimization. There it means very focused and specific keywords that have very few searches, but where the searcher is closer to purchase. So, if your website has that specific content, chances are that the person will come to your website during the final laps of her purchase decision making. Similarly, there is long tail content. Contentinsights.com defines long tail content as content which generates traffic more than three days after publishing.

Combining the two, we see that there can be content that has very specific keywords. This content if of the right type will continue to attract some traffic long after it has been published. Similarly, there will be readers looking for very specific things that they will not find in their regular reading sources. If we combine these two, we get an interesting concept. You could be writing about very specific things and still be getting the occasional reader who is looking for that specific content. Or you could expand your focus a bit to add the occasional but specific content pieces and get a larger portion of occasional readership for long tail content.

For example, a generic piece on environmental law in a law site can get readership beyond lawyers.

Going beyond this, many publishers have started using news to build long tail readership. Since news covers a wide range of issues and is topically relevant, it offers easy pickings. Using semi-automated or even fully automated mechanisms to summarize or rewrite and post news items could become quite a thing. A number of such systems that you can sign up for, for a price are already publicly available.

Now, if you do too much of this occasional content, then your publication becomes defocused. And if you do too little, you do not get enough of occasional readers! Having long tail content is a way of ensuring that you get the occasional reader also, without sacrificing on your content positioning.

While every publisher would no doubt love all of their content to be long tail, it is easier said than done. You need time sensitive pieces too. The first challenge for publishers is to maintain the balance of timely content Vs long tail content. The second is to keep changing what should be in the tong tail, so that it keeps up with trends. Balance these and you would have a winner in your hands.

This article is part of a series on Digital Publishing trends for 2020. You can read the others in this series below

1. It is the reader, not the content
3. The lure of the walled gardens
4. Is custom content the new king?
5. Programmatic advertising and other technology nightmares
6. The bot brigade and more such frauds
7. What is happening to affiliate revenues?
8. The second digital transformation is well on its way
9. Are paywalls really the next big opportunity?