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practitioner blog posts

Practitioner Blog Posts Have a Longer Tail

April 12, 2018 - Content Marketing, influencer content marketing, Practitioner Marketing -
By: Chris Riley

Not all blog content is created equal—which means its impact on the world of would-be readers changes based on when it’s published, where it’s published, and its style. Usually when we think of blog content, we think of it as either personal editorial or news editorial. We think of content that can drive a ton of traffic, but only for a few days. In the tech space, we add business-level content, which is good to back broader campaigns, but it generally never gets much traffic. And then you have practitioner blog content. Practitioner blog posts are unique because their traffic, on average, lasts the longest.

What to expect

News editorial content. This type of post has the highest impact from the moment it is published. It will generally get the most views within the first three hours of its life span. But it quickly plateaus and takes a deep dive in traffic after an average of 2-3 days, and from that point on you can consider it dead. This type of content faces a highly competitive landscape with a plethora of other timely and responsive posts, and readers will quickly move on to the newest, most interesting news.

Personal editorial content. These are posts of a personal nature from a named individual (usually on their personal blog). They often get no visits, or millions. There is rarely a middle ground. Traffic is typically erratic for personal editorial content. If the author is an influencer, it works a lot like news editorial content, with an even quicker death of just hours.

Business-level blogs. The typical blog reader is not very interested in spending research or casual online reading time on hypothetical and thought-provoking business-level content. For this reason, business-level blog posts will have a lifespan of up to two weeks on average. However, during that time, the average traffic to the post is consistent. This is based on how it’s socialized, and the audience that is willing to read it. Generally, the audience that consumes the post is a competitor, a friend, or someone already knowledgeable about the topic via another broader campaign. (For example, a large PR campaign may reference this type of blog post content.)

Why practitioner content is different

Practitioner blog posts break the mold because they satisfy the topical and tactical interests of technical blog readers.

Quality practitioner content is technically deep and almost always tactical. What this means is that after readers have finished reading practitioner blog posts, they have a next step they can choose to take. This is diametrically opposed to people’s reaction to the blog content types above, which is typically, “Oh that’s a neat thought—Moving on.”  After a reader finishes a practitioner post, that reader has a better sense of how to implement something. In other words, after reading practitioner content, they act.

What this means for traffic is that while it will have a small peak the first few days after it’s published, mostly due to social media pushes, it will plateau, and sustain that traffic for as long as that content is relevant.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that practitioner-written content aligns directly to common technical searches. So its organic traffic is usually higher than any of the other types of blog posts referenced above. Secondly, because this type of content is usable, it gets shared on sites where techies exchange knowledge with each other, such as Quora, Reddit, Hacker News, Stack Exchange, and others. This builds an incremental base of direct traffic hits.

In addition to its long life span, practitioner content has the lowest bounce rate. Content on editorial sites has a 65% (or higher) bounce rate, and business-level posts see even higher bounce rates. This is because people decide very quickly after being drawn in by a title whether or not the post is worth the effort to read based on interest alone. Practitioner posts, on the other hand, have to be read to completion to utilize them. And because they are so specific, if a reader finds these posts, he or she has the interest to see them through.

How we know

Our data and experience with all three types of content come from our editorial team’s background in writing for industry news sites, personal blogs, and selling business-level and technical blog content to tech vendors, alongside research leverage in our share of voice analytics platform re:each. But there’s also Sweetcode.io. Sweetcode.io is pure practitioner blog content. Our posts on Sweetcode have an average life span of over three months, and our bounce rate is between 10-15%. Organic traffic is the lead source, and backlinks are posted regularly on techie sharing sites.

The takeaway

Our experience in developing technical content over the last three years has allowed us to learn how this content behaves in the wild and utilize it to better tailor our content creation services for our clients. You can learn from our experience. If your business depends on attracting a technical audience, you will greatly benefit from practitioner-written blog posts as part of your blog offering.


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.