Yesterday in a post discussing the popularity of list-style posts in blogging, a commenter asked me to look at the frequency of post types in relation to the traffic they bring. Following this comment I put together some statistics and ended up wondering a slightly different question, does having more blog posts mean you end up with more traffic?
In the previous post I pulled up some statistics from Google Analytics to reveal that on our AppStorm blogs we had the following distribution of traffic to our different post types:
- Roundups: 843,024 Pageviews in July
- Reviews: 126,161 Pageviews in July
- How-To: 95,905 Pageviews in July
Following on from Martin Ansty’s question in the comments, I checked and we have published the following quantities of posts:
- 288 Roundups
- 339 Reviews
- 159 How-to Posts
Doing the Math
So in other words, not only are list-style Roundups generating way more traffic, there are less of them. If you combine the results:
- Average Review nets 370 pageviews p/month
- Average How-to Post nets 600 pageviews p/month
- Average Roundup nets 2900 pageviews p/month
So by this math, if we can add, say, another 300 Roundups to AppStorm in the next year then this time next year we’d have added 300×3000 pageviews p/month = 900,000 pageviews p/month! 300 Roundups over 3 app review blogs over a year means just 2 a week – that seems very achievable, and adding 900,000 pageviews would be a 60% traffic increase!
Does this really work?
Of course whether adding more posts really brings new people seems very debatable. After all it seems equally possible that the same traffic just gets spread over an increasingly large pool of blog posts.
So what I did was to go back in time to get some historical data from December 2009 which is about 8 months ago. At that time on just the Mac Apps blog there were 57 Roundup posts, and that month they netted 161,000 pageviews. In other words each Roundup post brought in 2850 pageviews on average. That is almost EXACTLY the same traffic to post ratio! So this observation sounds very promising for our hypothesis!
Taking this logic to the extreme
So let’s take this logic all the way to see if it really does hold up. Imagine instead of publishing 300 Roundups over the next year, we published 300,000 Roundups! Forget about the impossibility of such a feat, and let’s just focus on the numbers here.
By my previous logic, every one of those Roundups should bring in about 3,000 pageviews. So by publishing the huge number of additional posts, we should end up with a whopping 900,000,000 pageviews a month!
To give that number some context, according to Google’s list of the top 1000 Sites in the world, this would place AppStorm in the top 20, and make it easily the largest blog in the world.
This doesn’t really seem very realistic as it completely ignores the fact that there is a finite limit to how many people are interested in reading about apps!
So surely at some point adding more posts does NOT equal more traffic.
This makes intuitive sense, and when I think about another blog of ours, FreelanceSwitch, it also makes empirical sense. While AppStorm is a fast growing site, FreelanceSwitch has remained very steady for a couple of years now. Is that because we stopped posting? Nope! In the last two years we’ve added hundreds more posts to the site, so by my earlier math we should have grown our traffic by a huge amount – which we haven’t.
So clearly in AppStorm’s case the post to traffic ratio is only holding because the traffic happens to be growing on the site at the moment, and it hasn’t reached its full potential yet.
Another question is in regard to frequency of posts. Sites like Lifehacker, Mashable and TechCrunch all post many, many times a day. I’ve definitely read in places (that I can’t remember now) that one of the biggest reasons they post more frequently is because it means more traffic.
An increased frequency of posts definitely equates to more traffic if the same number of readers end up reading more posts. It also makes sense that there would be some benefit to having that much more content on the site, simply from the point of view of search traffic, chance of being linked to and chance of hitting a topic or post that goes viral or popular.
So to sum up my little bit of quick and dirty analysis, I would say that more posts, particularly more concurrent posts, does have a relationship to traffic. However I would not believe that it’s a linear relationship, at least not for any serious length of time because there are definite ceilings to how many people are interested in a particular topic.
As for AppStorm I do have a feeling that we’re going to have to increase the post frequency on our blogs to put all these hypothesis to the test soon!