Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
“Build it and they will come.” That catchphrase from the 1989 feature film Field of Dreams motivated a farmer to build a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield. The mantra suggests that a project will succeed if you simply start it.
Those of us with a blog or website are hungry to embrace that war cry. Oh, if it were only true! But if you’ve been writing online for any length of time, you understand that there’s more to operating a successful blog or website than simply launching it.
Build your site framework, yes — that’s the first step. But building a following? That’s a long-term endeavor accomplished by working key strategies like …
Check. Check. And check. If that’s you and you have these basics in place, then there’s another little-used strategy that you may have missed in building your website or blog and growing your following.
And before you get all excited, know that this strategy is not a magic bullet. Rather, it’s a simple way to supplement all that quality content, audience targeting, and SEO goodness you’ve already established. It’s a strategy that offers consistency.
The strategy is this: build your following when you include three different types of articles on your site.
These different kinds of articles meet readers’ needs throughout the calendar year. That’s why including them on your site is a long-term growth strategy, just like SEO and systematic publishing. If you don’t already include these different types of articles in your publishing mix, then consider adding them. Here’s how they help to build your site and grow your following.
Evergreen articles are relevant when you publish them. And they stay relevant long afterward. How-tos… checklists … mistakes to avoid … glossaries … case studies … they’re all examples of different types of evergreen articles that have staying power. It’s not unusual for evergreens to become the most clicked-on pages of your site.
That’s why evergreen articles make up the bulk of the content on the most successful websites — 80% or more, according to marketing gurus. And naturally, evergreens are well-optimized with appropriate keywords. You should update evergreen content regularly with the most current statistics and new tidbits to keep these pieces fresh. But even if you leave evergreen articles to their own devices, they’ll continue to deliver steady traffic.
Here’s why. Evergreen articles that drive traffic are not simply a rehash of what other content creators produce. Yes, you want to be sure to include solid information about the topic that will stand the test of time. But a tried-and-true evergreen article offers your unique angle or insight or slant of that topic.
For example, let’s say you write about resources for homeschooling parents who are part of a consortium or group. You’ve written an article titled, “How Homeschooling Groups Can Use Local Weather Events to Teach Meteorology.” The article draws large numbers of hits every month. Why? What makes it evergreen?
You’ve written about an everyday topic (weather) that’s widely taught (meteorology) — one that applies to homeschoolers across the globe and maybe even a classroom teacher or two. But the article is different from hundreds out there that explain how homeschoolers can teach meteorology. It offers a unique angle. You’ve shown readers how they can personalize their local conditions and apply those conditions to their lessons about the weather. You’ve hit on an article slant that can deliver steady traffic.
You can drive traffic consistently with seasonal articles, too — content that centers on a specific event, holiday, trend, or time of year. The difference between a solid evergreen article and a solid seasonal article is the timeframe. Evergreen articles pull in readers all year long. Seasonal articles prove durable because their traffic spikes periodically — over time. That’s why seasonal articles should be part of your long-term growth strategy.
A good example is, “How to Write a Christmas Letter That People Want to Read.” I wrote it years ago. Its traffic peaks every November and December because that’s when plenty of people need tips for writing a year-end letter to family and friends. But I’ve noticed that the article pulls traffic throughout the year, too — notably in June and July, at the halfway point during the calendar year. That’s one reason the article remains on my site all year long. Its information continues to be applicable to readers, even when I least expect it.
How might seasonal articles build traffic for you? Let’s go back to our homeschool content example. Your Floridian readers struggle with meeting consistently during hurricane season. You can address that cyclical problem with an article titled, “Help Your Homeschool Group Be Consistent During Hurricane Season.” But if you tweak the title to, “Help Your Homeschool Group Be Consistent During Inclement Weather,” you’ll get plenty of hits from snowbound readers during winter months, too.
That points to another advantage of writing seasonal articles. Holidays aside, these types of articles are appropriate at different times of the year for different readers who live in different climates or hemispheres. And when you publish various seasonal articles for different times of the year — say, articles for summer activities with preschoolers and articles about graduation gifts for May and December and articles about traveling in the winter — then those individual pages will surge during their individual seasons.
A news article reports current events. It is time-sensitive and of immediate interest. A court verdict, a World Cup win, election results, an accident, a robbery report, a product launch, a medical report release — they’re all examples of news article topics.
But current events are covered by big players. Major news networks have reporters on the ground. How can a solopreneur, blogger, or small business compete? Furthermore, even if you publish a breaking news article, the quick uptick in traffic would soon peter out unless you report another news story. Can news stories be a reasonable part of a long-term growth strategy?
Yes — when you slant them.
Show how a current event impacts your specific group of readers, such as, “How My Homeschool Group Survived Hurricane Stella.” In this article, you report your personal experience with a major news event. You point to power losses and rescheduling, offering a first-person point of view that’s a perfect opening hook or a pillar illustration for a quality informational piece. Optimize the article with high-value keywords, and your news story will continue to pull in readers consistently over time.
When it comes to growing your website and extending your reach, make sure three foundational strategies are in place: targeted readers, quality content, and SEO.
But add different types of articles to your growth strategy mix. Write evergreen articles, seasonal articles, and news articles. Find a unique slant or a personal angle that makes each of these different types of articles meaningful to your readers.
“Build it and they will come” works when you build articles and posts strategically. So maybe it’s not such an idealistic slogan, after all.
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