Lessons learned from 171 pieces of content in 2014

2014 has been a huge year for WP Curve. In terms of content marketing, we’ve had some big hits and even bigger misses. In this post we’ll share what’s worked and what hasn’t with ideas that you can use to improve your own content.

Evergreen content that adds up to over half a million views in 2014 goo.gl/lhF0sY @WPCurve #WordPress – CLICK TO TWEET

Top post by visits

One of our main goals that we measure each month is a 5% growth in traffic. The posts below were some of the best at helping us consistently achieve that goal this year.

PostPage views Comment
WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second36,472This was our best post of the year. It has averaged 3,000 views per month, with mostly organic traffic. We had a few backlinks from industry heavyweights (such as Elegant Themes) which helped us rank well. On top of that, the traffic is highly qualified for our business.
From failure to $37M funding with Adora Cheung – Homejoy13,637Good content can get picked up by unexpected sources. Sam Altman’s startup class made traffic for this post blow up overnight. However, the traffic is not as qualified as the WordPress speed post.
7 Day Startup Landing Page12,844This page was the primary source of traffic on our biggest day in web traffic yet. We had low expectations for the book, but it went on to be downloaded 15,000+ times and ranked #2 in Amazon for startup books for a few months. The resources page linked to in the book has turned Amazon into a new channel for traffic for us.
The beginner’s guide to Google Adwords (2013)12,482A great evergreen guest post that had been driving steady traffic since its launch.
11 lessons learned from a white label failure (2013)7,902We send people to this post a lot, white labeling our service is a common question we get. Ironically some of the enquiries for white labeling some from people who found this post searching google.
confused

Key takeaways:

The WordPress speed article appears in several categories in this post. Here’s why we think in performed well.

  • It is focused on a single problem and provides very actionable and detailed information on how to solve it.
  • The solution to this problem is extremely valuable.
  • This problem is not likely to change for a long time.
  • The keyword “WordPress speed” is highly relevant to our business.

This article was written as a deliberate effort to have content rank for a WordPress keyword. We built this post using strategies outlined in our practical guide to content driven SEO.

Below is an image of our page views for the year. The spike resembling the Matterhorn that immediately catches the eye right on October 2014, this was the launch of the 7 Day Startup. It was a perfect storm of quite a few podcast interviews, an engaged facebook community, and some brilliant book marketing.

Two posts on this list were published in 2013, both have been bringing in consistent and steadily growing traffic. Take a look at the upward trend for sessions with white label failure article as the landing page, the orange line is organic traffic. Nearly 90% of the traffic came organically. This shows the long-term dividends possible with high quality, evergreen content.

white-label

Top post by conversion rate

Another goal we measure is a 5% increase in email opt ins each month. In the table below we rank our articles on the percentage of visitors that opt in after viewing the content. This conversion rate was measured by tracking our email opt ins goal on Behavior/Landing pages with a filter removing any page with less than 250 sessions from January 1st to December 11th. We included sessions on this one to give you a good idea of what the percentages add up to.

PostConversion RateSessionsComment
The 7 Day Startup49.16%




1,367




This was a well designed landing page and was promoting the book a few months before it’s release. People who landed on that page were interested in the book and updates, which is why it converted as such a high rate. Note the page is no longer an email opt in landing page.
The 7 Day Startup Resources Page10.75%921Support content mentioned in the 7 Day Startup.
Use this website review template to improve your site [FREE TEMPLATE]8.71%3,285Perfectly aligned with and relevant to the visitors interest when landing on the post.
Our exact hands off process for hiring developers offshore7.15%2,154This post included a recruitment bundle download that supported the content.
Increase your blog email conversion rate with this blog review tool [FREE TEMPLATE]5.72%577A detailed guide with content that directly supports it.

Key takeaways:

This is the metric we use for our “best of” widget on the side of our content, the top converters for the last 30 days are considered the best. You’ll notice above that our highest converting articles are not our most popular. But an article with 1,000 views a year and and 18% conversion rate is more valuable than an article with 30,000 and a .5% conversion rate.

RelatedIncrease conversions with the Smart Top Posts WordPress plugin

We use ConvertPress on most of our content to provide relevant calls to action and drive opt ins. These calls to actions are banners on our content that convert well without being overly intrusive.

All of our highest converting posts have a call to action or download that is exactly or closely aligned with the content of the post. Most blogs have only one downloadable piece of content that is used for their call to action across all of their articles, fewer still offer anything other than the “latest updates”.

A strategy to diversify your offers is to identify a few broad themes or problems that your content discusses and create a download or offer that addresses them. Then use calls to action that promote that download in those specific areas.

In the coming year we are planning on redesigning our blog and combing back through the older content to place more relevant calls to action to increase the value can conversion rates of our evergreen posts that continue to deliver traffic long after they are published.

Related: The ultimate guide to creating content that converts

Top post by comments

Comments help us get a feel for what is working with our audience and give us a chance to connect with them personally. Though we don’t have a specific goal for comments in our content strategy, we find them to be an important metric. Note that comment responses from Dan and Alex are also counted.

PostNumber of commentsComment
WP Curve turns 1 thanks to YOU!113

Lots of congratulations from a supportive audience and gratitude from Dan and Alex.
WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second92Detailed follow up questions and conversation threads appearing in the comments.
Startup Chat #61 – Business growth with Noah Kagan from App Sumo67Comment contests and Noah Kagan’s underwear tend to be good conversation starters.
Lessons learned reviewing 300 websites in 2 weeks (how to build a decent website)54Lots of spillover attention from Pat Flynn’s podcast and Dan was doing a few more site reviews.
107 new customers, 17% growth, starting a wait list, 7 new team members, Alex meets Dan – November 2014 WP Curve monthly report48A big month with lots of new customers and big announcements for WP Curve.

Key takeaways:

Dan is part man, part beast when it comes to comments. He responds to every single one. Some of them turn into longer conversation threads.

The content you create should be a conversation, responding to and thanking your audience for sharing their thoughts is a powerful way get people more involved in your story.

Neil Patel recently ran an experiment with his comments and collected data on the impact that they generated.

When I write a guest post and I don’t respond to comments, it typically generates no leads.” Neil Patel – How I Generated $25,000 with 249 Comments

The Noah Kagan interview was a unique and creative approach to generating comments that Noah often uses on this content. Having a giveaway for the best comment is something that can significantly increase the number of comments you get.

The lessons learned post deserves a mention here because it has only been up for a fraction of the time and has already generated a large amount of comments. This article was also born from comments, many of the main points were inspired from Dan giving website reviews in the comments of Pat Flynn’s podcast.

I keep going back to this episode and the comment count keeps increasing, it’s over 700 at the time of writing this. That is intense dedication to providing high quality and personal responses to comments, and the success of this post is proof of that value.

Top by social shares

We measured our social shares using Like Explorer which looks at shares from Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pintrest, Stumble Upon and Google+. The score below is the sum of all of these shares.

PostTotal social sharesComment
Five startup income reports you need to be reading944

Buffer has a featured content section in their tool that shows posts they find useful. This post mentioning buffer got their attention and was added to this list which sent our social shares soaring from 50-550 in a day. A lot of this was auto sharing and as a result the traffic and conversions did not see a big increase.
WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second552This post was relevant to our audience and had a very enticing and shareable title.
Lessons learned reviewing 300 websites in 2 weeks (how to build a decent website)265An interesting title, valuable content and a community of energized followers that just got their website reviewed helped this post make it to the top in just a few weeks.
10 red flags your startup idea will fail228The red flag post benefits from being a list post about a volatile and interesting topic. It also touches a bit of fear in the title “do I have any of those red flags?”
WP Curve turns 1 thanks to YOU!199This post was interesting because it is the only post where our facebook shares are much higher than our twitter shares.

There’s a few common elements to these posts that contributed to their success.

Relevance to the audience – Content that involves the problems they are facing.

Interesting or useful content – Dives into actionable information that can be applied immediately to a pain point.

Engaging titles, sharable quotables, images or click to tweets – Have bite sized pieces of content easily shareable in your posts. Things that stand alone for sharing but entice the reader in. We use click to tweet as a way to take some of our best quotes from our content and make them instantly shareable.

Contrarian and correct – Taylor Pearson describes how content that goes against the mainstream thought and is correct is a strong foundation for content that gets shares.

Top offsite content

This year we had more content offsite than on, here are a few of our most successful. We won’t rank it because they deliver different kinds of value.

SPI 134: Crucial and Common WordPress Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, with Dan from WP Curve – This interview drove a lot of traffic to our site and was no coincidence that November (the month this interview was published) was our biggest month to date for new customers.

Onboardly – Creating Content That Converts – This got a lot of attention on social media and got a few hundred conversions.

Fox News – WPCurve takes WordPress to the next level – It is difficult to really quantify the value of a top tier mention, they make a large difference in trust from our audience help us reach a broad range of people that may have not heard of us before. Other media outlets like Torque Mag ran stories about this interview further increasing its reach.

Forbes – CPR For Your WordPress Site – This interview with Alex on Forbes brought a good stream of traffic in and was a good boost to our reputation.

Blue Wire Media – The 5 Best Google Analytics Reports for Content Marketers – This article did great with social shares, and was our biggest hit of the year on google+. Coincidence? Probably not. The post was actually shared by the main Google Analytics twitter account. It was one of BlueWire’s biggest posts of the year.

Our biggest content failures

For every breakout hit we had this year, we had 20 mediocre performers.

Website Review: 10 ways to improve appetizingsites.com – We did a few individual website reviews earlier in the year. They did not perform so well, but it helped us create some of our best content such as the website review template.

Business book review #2 – Manage Your Day to Day – We did several business book reviews, they never got too much traction with our audience.

Our new years resolution was to create 365 pieces of content this year. We started strong in the first quarter of 2014 nearly reaching our goal each month. But we found that the posts were not bringing the amount of traffic or conversions that we were hoping for. As the year continued we shifted our aim away from quantity to quality.

The new goal mid-year was 15 pieces of content per month. This included 5-10 podcast interviews by Dan. This was something we still fell short of on several months but with new systems in place and as I get a better feel for managing and improving the content with WP Curve I think this is a goal we will achieve in 2015 while maintaining a high standard of quality.

Overall content stats for the year

Lots of time and energy has been poured into our content this year. After analyzing and reflecting on some of the long term value of these posts and looking at the tremendous progress WP Curve has made in just a year and a half, the effort has proven to be worthwhile.

Let’s take a look at some overall stats to see what all this content adds up to for 2014:

  • Total pageviews: 569,000
  • Total visits: 340,655
  • Total social shares: 5,631
  • Total email opt ins: 8,059
  • Total onsite posts: 87
  • Total content produced: 171 – Just short of 15 posts a month but we aren’t quite done yet 🙂

A few notes

Some of our best content was released toward the end of the year, and has not had time to gain the momentum of earlier posts.

This post was written in the middle of December, so the numbers and rankings in this report will not perfectly reflect the entire year.

What was your best content in 2014?

Post it in the comments below with some stats, and let us know why you think it went so well.

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About

Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

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