As a publisher, you cannot increase your audience without building and maintaining your content as well as the infrastructure on which every component relies on. It’s a pretty straightforward concept.
Your team probably spends months to develop a viable content strategy that attracts traffic to your WordPress publishing business. Still, is all traffic good traffic, and is every reader the right one for your digital magazine?
There are lots of publishers out there that think like that because they already have a reasonable amount of audience. However, in the publishing industry, even several hundreds of thousands in weekly traffic is not good enough if you want to compete with sites such as BuzzFeed and Mashable.
Creating engaging content that your audience wants to read requires effort, perseverance, money, and clever promotion and advertising strategies that can place your articles ahead of your biggest competitors.
The good news is that there are powerful ways to increase your audience as publisher. Of course, this does imply that you rethink your strategy and work tirelessly to improve it. However, when you see millions of monthly visits to your site, the new and improved workflow will become a habit for your entire team.
1. Understand Your Audience
The audience is the number one factor in digital publishing success. Readers are everything! You develop your content for your audience, and this is why it is crucial to figure out who are the people that read the articles and whether the content is engaging enough. If you don’t know who your target reader is, you’re in big trouble!
To know who your target readers are means that you’ll know how to reach them through the content that they love to read. Through the language that they use when they search for their favorite content on Google and social media, you can formulate headlines and text to suit their conversational tone.
It’s all about being relevant as a digital publisher and providing good content. This is why your readers can’t just be “anybody” and you need to discover if you actually meet their reading needs.
As a publisher, if you only rely on page views and sessions, you’re not analyzing anything meaningful. You need to delve deeper into the data, analyze it in a structured manner, and come up with strategies that can advance your defined KPIs and goals. Analyzing your content is what will bring you the insights that you need to make better editorial decisions and increase your readership in the process.
Raw data and numbers are just one of the aspects of your publishing data. The engagement of your audience should go way deeper than just metrics and bounce rates. As a publisher, you need to know how to successfully gauge what type of content your audience finds interesting, and what type of content brings the most engagement to your WordPress platform.
When you understand what type of content brings in the most engagement and which segments of your audience interact the most with your content, you can better plan and improve the distribution of your content.
Google Analytics provides you with multiple dashboards where you can easily monitor whether your content meets the defined KPIs and goals.
2. Focus on Quality
As a publisher, you need to know how to really differentiate your content, especially if you’re trying to build more audience and engagement. You can easily produce thousands of posts per month, but how many of them are actually worth for the readers? Furthermore, ask yourself if your articles have enough power to retain your readers and earn revenue from businesses that want to advertise on your blog.
The truth is, without world-class content nobody would want to place an ad on one of your articles, let alone convince the audience not to bounce out!
If you want your content to be read more than your competitors, you need to create quality articles that are engaging enough that people want to share them with their friends and followers, stay on your site, and come back for more the next day. This requires putting in the work to create beautifully-written content that is interesting to read.
Develop Compelling Topics
Your publishing build exists to inform, amuse, and ignite the interest of your readers. This is why each of your articles must have a topic that is interesting to people. But, what makes a topic interesting?
Well, first of all, if it’s informative, it must be fully packed with data that supports the content. This makes it authoritative and shows your audience that you can cover a topic in as much detail as possible while providing immense value at the same time.
Another thing to keep in mind is the foundation of the article and its concept. Ask yourself what is the key message that you’re trying to deliver. Moreover, what is your take on that concept, and why should your audience care to read your take on that specific topic. Those are the core aspects that you need to focus on before you start developing content around a category or a topic.
Research Your Biggest Competitors
What if your biggest competitors scoop up all the traffic using topics that you want to write about? This doesn’t mean that you should give up from a topic and hand over the audience to your rivals. What works your rivals can work for you too. In fact, it can even inspire you to develop a content that’s even better than the other publishers.
You can start by using BuzzSumo to explore what is the most shared and engaging content online about a given topic.
Explore the most popular articles and see if you can’t come up with your own similar, but again, unique pieces or ones that have a different take on a given topic.
Next up, you can also examine the rankings about the keywords/topic that you want to target. An excellent tool for the purpose is SEMRush. Just enter your competitors’ websites and you’ll get a list of the top keywords that are driving their traffic.
Of course, researching your competitors is not an easy task and it may take a significant amount of your team’s time before you begin developing your articles. However, this is worth all the effort and will pay off in the long run.
Use Comprehensible and Quality Imagery
When you want to communicate a topic in your article, you need to pay attention to how you use imagery and text together. The saying “an image is worth a 1000 words” is very true, and the message that you want to deliver should be clear through its visuals.
Have a Defined Layout
You need to structure your articles depending on the type of content and the audience’s ability to digest or skim everything regardless of whether the article is more textual or more visual. For this purpose, you need to develop your article idea/outline first:
- The Five “W”: Why, what, when, where, who? Can your article provide an angle for each of the five “W” of content publishing?
- The Impact: Will the article demonstrate why the idea is important or amusing? How will each paragraph of the article support the topic, and what is the meaning behind each subtopic?
- Visuals: Will the article include catchy imagery, gifs, or videos? Will the visuals present the topic in a logical manner? Will each subheading have its own image, and will the image enhance the context of the text below the subheading?
Have Catchy Headlines
The headline is what sells the content to readers. It draws and encourages them to read the rest of your content. A catchy and convincing headline makes it perfectly clear what the users can anticipate and get when they read the article.
The key to a successful headline is understanding your target persona and what makes them tick. In other words, the headline should resonate with your target personas.
According to HubSpot, these are the main factors that make an article headline “sexy”:
- Alliteration: Our brains can remember exact phrases and written concepts. Alteration is the repetition of sounds within words that helps us achieve that (“She sells seashells by the sea shore”). Making something a little lovelier to read through alteration can have a strong impact on your reader.
- Strong Language: Strong words such as “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” are really powerful and attract readers like bears to honey. However, don’t overuse them if you don’t want to push the readers away from your content prematurely.
- Clear Value: According to a HubSpot research, templates tend to be extremely powerful for CTR: They found that adding “[Template]” to their titles got the most average views of all bracketed terms.
- Visuals: Again, you should always look for an opportunity to include visuals in your blog posts. You can also state that in the title. Research from HubSpot disclosed that headlines featuring the word “photo(s)” perform 37% better than headlines without it.
- Who: Want to ignite interest? Then make sure that you focus on the “who”! Headlines that have the word “who” in them can generate a CTR 22% higher than headlines without it.
Edit, and Edit Some More
Before you publish an article, you need to look over it at least a couple of times to make sure that everything is perfect, from the grammar to the formatting, and the visuals.
Let one of your team members read the article out loud so you can hear how the article sounds and if it makes sense. Ask for a test group to have a fresh look at the articles to make sure that they’re completely understandable to the group.
3. Stay Consistent
Consistency in publishing means consistent quality and consistent editorial process. Not only should your content be of a consistent quality, written in a distinguishable tone of voice that reflects your brand, but it should also be posted regularly, so your audience can count on your website as a source of interesting information.
Most of the best WordPress digital publishers out there are in the top, not just because they publish quality content, but also because they’ve stayed consistent in both their process and their content style. We’re not only talking about producing content every day. Consistency also means providing quality posts, post after post and forming a signature layout that will be effective if you publish the article now or ten months from now.
The following suggestions can help you stay on your publishing path and be consistent post after post:
- Have a Niche: Don’t hop around from entertainment to politics, and from politics to poetry. You need to stick to a niche and aim to become an authoritative source among your readers.
- Use a Content Calendar: Even a simple Google Spreadsheet can help you plan your content, your main, and each subtopic.
- Be Timely: Don’t let readers wait. Don’t publish your posts on different days and intervals, or even worse, whenever you feel like it. Have a schedule and stick to it. Your website can’t become an authoritative source if you publish only from time to time.
- Have a Minimum: Have a minimum of blog posts that can be published on the site per day, week, month, and stick to it. That will push you to publish on a regular basis.
4. Provide Various Content Formats
One type of content will not generally appeal to every visitor. That’s why it is always good to provide various content formats that people can open regardless if they’re on their laptops or smartphones, with headphones or not.
The obvious one! The publishing industry is nothing without blog posts. When done right, blog posts can help you build authority in a particular area, lead you to better search rankings, and drive more traffic to your website.
Videos are perhaps the best attention-grabbing content there is. They are also the most popular type of content consumed on mobile devices. Telling stories with video means highlighting the visual parts of the story and putting them together into a new type of content on the audience’s devices.
Infographics are one of the most shared items online! There are a couple of reasons behind the success of Infographics as content. First of all, when done right, the graphic elements and data are really captivating and a person cannot resist reading it. Second, with an infographic, information can be presented in a likable and shareable way, for example:
To use infographics in your digital publishing business:
- Plan them upfront. You can start by outlining your articles to see whether there is the possibility to create a good infographic from one of them.
- Use a visual content tool such as AdobeXD or Canva to create beautiful graphics that will support the data of your infographic.
Don’t forget about images! An image will make your content more likely to be shared on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Quizzes and Polls
Quizzes are definitely one of the most engaging and attention-grabbing content out there. Few would turn down the chance to try out a fun personality quiz?
5. Enhance Your UX
When you publish your content, it is important to keep the audience reading, but you can’t retain anyone unless the UX is impeccable! You’re competing in a marketplace with hundreds, if not thousands of competitors, and this is why the reading experience must excellent. To enhance the UX of your WordPress publishing website, keep in mind the following:
- Easy to Read Content: Use adequate fonts, font sizes, and colors.
- Highlight the Content: Highlight the vital points with subheadings and bold text. In most cases, people will skim your content, so you need to provide them with the option to scan the content or read it thoroughly.
- Eliminate Distractions: Remove any distractions from your posts such as an underperforming sidebar, widgets, and pop-ups that don’t provide value for you and for your readers.
- Unobtrusive Advertising: You can’t trade the number of ads with the UX. The entire experience and advertisements should go hand in hand to increase both your pageviews per session and bottom line.
- Have a Simple Navigation: Let the main menu stay simple and move links that aren’t essential straight to your footer.
- Speed up Your Site: People are in a hurry, they don’t have time to wait for an article to load more than three seconds. Inspect the performance of your build and make sure that you’ve done everything to have a good loading speed.
- Have Accessible Articles: Your content must be accessible to everyone. This is why you must be compliant with WCAG so that you can provide everyone with a chance to enjoy your content.
6. Distribute Your Content
Does your content have a substantial distribution strategy? Do you invest your time and money in promoting the content? If you find the right distribution channel, you’ll be seen by millions of readers interested in your topics.
Taking into account the huge amount of content on the Internet every day, you cannot afford not to have a proper content distribution strategy. However, there are so many content distribution channels and opportunities that you’ll need to test out several different approaches first.
Content Discovery Networks
If you want to ensure that your content can reach a significant number of visitors, then a profitable content discovery network is your safest bet!
When you choose a content delivery network, consider the following aspects:
- Quality: Where will the recommended widget appear? Are the sites that you want to be featured in aligned with your target audience and your goals?
- Scaling: How many users can the platform reach? Make sure that you’ll be able to reach users in the geolocation that is most important to you.
- Support: Are mobile devices like smartphones and tablets supported?
- Targeting: Can you reach the audience that you really want to affect? Does the platform provide you with retargeting capacity?
- Tracking: Will you be able to track CPA and PPV?
- Reporting: What type of analytics and reporting will the network provide you with? Can you export the data and analyze your reports?
- UX: Is the management user-friendly? Can you access the information you need on a mobile device?
- Service: What kind of customer support does the platform offer? Will you get personalized support to help you out with planning, creating content, and enhancing your campaigns?
Sponsored content is a type of content marketing that’s created by the publisher and distributed afterward. It is also called native advertising because it looks and feels like every other content on your website. You can develop separate sponsored content divisions focused on writing, designing, and producing sponsored content projects – from articles to videos to infographics and entire additional websites as well.
Google Ads is a form of SEM marketing, and it’s one of the most used methods of paid content promotion. Google display ads on their network of over 2 million sites, as well as on billions of daily search results pages.
Snapchat has a whole section devoted to media partners called Discover. Publishers can create shows or daily channels with articles and videos. As a publisher, you have access to Snapchat’s content management system, which permits you to search through the public videos uploaded by the users on a daily basis. You can also search for specific themes or geolocations if you want to create a story using the footage.
The cheapest method of distributing your content is email marketing. As soon as you publish a new piece of content, you can use some of the most prominent email marketing tools that can be integrated with WordPress to send out your newsletter. It’s as simple as that!
Your email marketing strategy can include daily or weekly digests aka regular email newsletters that contain multiple articles and invite people to read them.
Blog Posts CTAs
You can also promote your content within your blog posts and pages as well. This can be executed in various ways through the placement of graphics, callout boxes, links, and regular CTAs.
7. Have a Quality Hosting Provider
Having a too affordable or generic hosting account can be a big obstacle if you want to scale your digital magazine. With those types of hosts, even a 10% traffic increase can crash your entire site. As a matter of fact, even Amazon had issues on their Prime Day which led to $90M loss because of questionable uptime.
To be a successful WordPress publisher that hosts viral content, you’ll need a proper hosting infrastructure that can help you handle not only hundreds of thousands but millions of daily and monthly visits to your digital publication.
Enter Pagely, a scalable and media-ready WordPress managed hosting provider for publishers consisting of experts with over a decade of experience in the industry. They can provide you with a customized hosting plan that is compatible with the unique technical requirements of your WordPress publishing website. You can safely work on your content while Pagely, along with partners such as ourselves, work tirelessly to keep your site from slowing down or losing traffic.
One of our current clients Obsev.com (OBSessed with EVerything) is a digital magazine that had significant difficulties in scaling. Before they reached out to Pagely, they’ve had 30MM+ pageviews per month, and they wanted to increase that.
Pagely partnered them with us to resolve their scaling issues that damaged their growth and brand in the process. The results were staggering, we managed to quadruple their traffic count, something that is discussed in detail between Obsev’s CEO, Raymond Attipa, DevriX CEO, Mario Peshev and Pagely Director of Hosting Ops, Arman Zakaryan in this video case study below.
Pagely is built on AWS, which is the world’s largest cloud provider, so your website will have an almost limitless pool of resources to draw upon. No wonder some of the biggest sites are hosted on Pagely, such as Time Inc, Booking.com, Comcast, and so on.
The business of content and media publishing will never stop! What’s more important, audiences love to consume content and in this day and age, they can choose what to read, when to read it, and whether to click on an advertisement or not. The tactics above can help you be in the right place and at the right time, helping you obtain a bigger audience, more brand awareness, and improve earnings in the process!
If you’re planning to scale your publishing company to handle over 100M visits per month, you’ve come to the right place! At DevriX, we’ve helped scale some of the biggest names in the industry from thousands to millions of monthly page views, maximizing their revenue and cut down on recurring costs in the process. Our WordPress Core expertise is combined with our Managed Hosting Pagely partnership, our Inbound Marketing partnership with HubSpot and AdOps services for bigger traffic generation, improved UX, and immense return on your investment.