The Long Lifespan of a Successful Blog Post

February 16, 2009

One frequently overlooked benefit of blogs is the longevity of the content and the traffic it can drive in the longterm. A successful post on a popular topic can create a bountiful long tail of traffic that may organically outgrow the originally surge of visitors.

We recently had a very successful blog post authored by Joel Sutherland about how to build an interactive map using jQuery instead of Flash. The post was published on January 27 and in less than three weeks has had more than 9,000 visits!

We anticipated an initial traffic bump, because we knew the topic was interesting and could gain some traction on social media sites. To help the post along, we submitted it to Hacker News and Reddit.

These two sites would end up driving about 35% of the total traffic, with the rest coming from the post being passed around the web by other interested people. As an example, over a dozen strangers tweeted about the post, which resulted in another 500 views.  Also, more than 1,000 visits resulted from the post being on delicious.

The other 6,000 views are a part of the traffic long tail that can be so invaluable to successful posts. Many of these visits are the result of dozens of other sites blogging about or simply mentioning the article, generating thousands more visits.

The post has continued a steady track of visits since the initial rush, and has only received less than 100 visits on five days since its publishing. This consistent pace of traffic is owed to organic search results.  There have been over 750 visits as a result of organic searches on Google. This number will only continue to grow over time as the post has cemented itself on the first page of results for many different search terms involving jQuery.

This organic traffic serves as a great example of the value in creating a lot of content. Over the next year, this post will likely drive thousands of new visitors to our website without us doing a single thing. All we had to do was invest the upfront time to write the content, and we now get to reap the perpetual benefits of quality traffic to our site.

Have you had a blog post become wildly successful? How did the traffic graph look in terms of the long tail benefit? How much of that traffic ended up coming from organic search results?

Thanks for everyone that helped us publicize the post. We'll try our best to continue generating interesting content.

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