Do people keep coming back to your content?
Good content marketers create useful content. But they have another responsibility: driving return traffic.
If people are only looking at your content once, you’re not creating traffic that builds business. Good content marketing creates resources that people come back to again and again — Copyblogger, Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute, Copywriting Course, Very Good Copy. All of these sites have strong return visitor traffic.
In other words, they create sticky content. To succeed, you must create sticky content.
What Is Sticky Content?
Sticky content is simply content that gets visited over and over by the same users.
It could be anything — a blog post, an infographic, a video, a calculator or even a particular podcast episode. Whatever it is, people keep coming back to it.
There are a number of components that go into sticky content, but they’re all aimed at answering one question:
Is it useful?
If the answer is yes, you’ll generate return traffic and backlinks. If the answer is no, you won’t. It’s that simple.
Sticky content serves two main purposes:
- It creates continuous engagement. There are certain posts or pages that just get views. In my case, I can think of a few pages that I go back to on a regular basis — John McPhee’s piece on “greening” in the New Yorker, Statista’s mobile penetration page, our Rainmaker Way page. If people come back to it, you’ve succeeded in creating sticky content.
- It generates backlinks. Sticky content gets references on other sites. These backlinks drive traffic and build domain authority, helping you show up in search.
For example, I track NBA teambuilding and the salary cap for fun. (Yes, really — for fun. I might have a problem.) Because I’m not particularly good at math, every time I want to calculate a percentage, I go to the same math site. They have a page with a percent calculator — that’s a piece of sticky content.
Common types of sticky content include:
- Collated statistics
- Case studies
- Link lists
Sticky content adds to SEO as a side effect, but what we care about most is return visitors. We’re writing for people, not Google.
So how do we get return visitors?
How to Create Sticky Content
Many business owners know they need to create content, but only care about hitting keywords and driving search engine rankings. They’re not trying to create content that people use and come back for over and over.
Take College Raptor as an example. Instead of stuffing their site with keywords and copycat content, they created an infographic that showed where all the current U.S. senators went to college. Other publishers shared the content and linked back to it. Within a week, traffic exploded and domain authority improved — and though it tailed off from its one-week high, it stayed significantly higher than it had been previously. That’s the power of sticky content.
Here are some tips to get you started with your own sticky content.
Keep It Simple
Sticky content should be easy to understand.
If you’re writing blogs, articles and pages, use short, skimmable paragraphs (1 to 3 sentences) and plain language; most authorities keep this type of content at an 8th-grade reading level. The simpler the reading level, the more people will be able to understand it.
Even if your content isn’t text-based, the same principles apply. Stay on message, use simple language and deliver your ideas in bite-size pieces. Take the time to think through your structure, don’t just put out video or audio “just because.”
There are obviously caveats here. Not every field will lend itself to simplification. Science, engineering and academia are easy examples of industries where jargon is necessary. In those cases, simplify as much as you can without losing the meaning of the message.
Say Something Meaningful
The Internet has a copycat problem.
Take a look at this example SERP:
Without even clicking on all these links, you can see that at least three of these are completely derivative of other links. Some of them even have the references they’re using from other pages on the same SERP in the description.
Google is aware, and their helpful content update is aimed directly at this issue. But whether Google cares or not, if you’re not bringing anything new to the table, you won’t be creating sticky content.
Copying the top 10 SERP results may make your content rank on Google, but it won’t be sticky and it won’t establish your content as a future reference. Say something meaningful that keeps users coming back.
Make Your Content Credible
Misinformation can drive a ton of traffic, but it’s not the traffic you want. Remember: sticky content is useful, and misinformation isn’t. Make sure you’re credible. Be specific and detailed about your points. Nothing will hurt your credibility faster than wrong or misleading information.
If you’re creating a piece of content based on research, check and double check your sources. Reference and link everything you bring up. Keep the logical thread from beginning to end. Make it easy for users to access the same information you used so they can do their own research and even “check your work.” If you’re using a personal example or a case study, tie it into your point completely.
If your content is credible, it will be sticky and attract the right kind of repeat traffic.
Use Emotion Where Appropriate
This Buffer piece on video metrics is very sticky, but it doesn’t have much of an emotional appeal. And it doesn’t need to. But a piece like Gary Vaynerchuk’s “A Perspective Shift in the Back of a Car in LA” relies heavily on it.
If emotion is appropriate, decide which emotion you want your audience to take away. Is it awe? Joy? Amusement? Excitement? Sadness? Anger?
People listen for logic, but engage on emotion. Don’t neglect it if you want to be sticky.
The Key to Stickiness is Usefulness
Again, if you want to create sticky content, you need to accomplish one thing: be useful. If you’re creating useful content and putting it in front of the right audience, you’re going to succeed.
Take a look at your business and decide what kind of sticky content your audience will appreciate the most. Then create it. Build an audience that keeps coming back, time and time again. And if you need a hand, feel free to reach out. Just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services