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How Writing "Content Time Bombs" Can Double Your Blog Traffic

Over the last five years since I have been blogging, I have dispensed my fair share of blogging advice. Though I never describe myself as a "social media blogger" who solely talks about social media in terms of adoration, I do get asked often to help those who may be starting out or trying to build an audience with their blog. To answer, I have shared many different forms of advice on what to write about, how frequently to write and other techniques to help build a better blog. One technique that I realized I use all the time is also one that I have seldom written about: using "content time bombs."

Content Time Bombs are pieces of content that are written to remain online until someone needs to know about that specific topic, and then they "explode" as those people find them (usually through search engines). They are the social media equivalent of land mines, but in a good way. The reason I believe in them is because they are inherently valuable because they are always meant to be written for the long term. Not only that, but on any given day, nearly half of my blog traffic will come from older posts that are being found through search or passed along from person to person. These are not fleeting posts about how Facebook's latest privacy guidelines have people up in arms. They are not posts about how the iPad will save the world. Instead, they bring different pieces together to answer a common question that some people may ask.

Here are a few recent examples:

What do all of these posts have in common that makes them what I call "content time bombs?" Clearly I am a fan of the numbered list structure for blogging – but this alone is not what distinguishes them. Numbered lists may be a format that I choose because it fits my blogging style, but this is not required. Instead, these posts all have four features in common that make them ideal fits as content time bombs:

  1. They target a specific audience or need. Each of the posts above either features a specific target audience, such as luxury real estate agents or PR people, or customer service people – or else they talk about a specific topic in broad terms, such as trends for 2010 or gaming and healthcare.
  2. They use keywords frequently. A key for search engines is to title the posts correctly using keywords and then to repeat them throughout your post. This is a basic search marketing technique, but also helps from a reader's point of view to reinforce that what they are reading is truly giving them the information they were seeking.
  3. They can remain "dormant" until needed. The problem with many blog posts is that the dated nature of each post and the format of having your newest posts at the top means that anyone who gets to your homepage may not always see the content most relevant to them, they will only see the content that was posted most recently. That works for world news where you care most about the news right now, but for a blog you want your older content to help drive engagement. By writing your posts in a format that is likely to be found, you can bring more incremental traffic to your blog by driving people to content you have already written rather than just to your latest post.
  4. They engage a broader audience. I understand that the core audience for my blog are people who either work in marketing or are dealing with some type of marketing challenge. By writing posts focused on real estate agents or librarians or journalists, I can help bring a wider audience of people to my site, and also learn from the insights they share back in comments as they are reading.

So I'll continue to try and write these "content time bombs" and build an archive of hundreds of them. To me, that's the ultimate way to create a great blog because you are writing content that is not just interesting or current for the moment, but also something that will be useful and answer a need in a relevant way a year from now.

19 thoughts on “How Writing "Content Time Bombs" Can Double Your Blog Traffic”

  1. Hi Rohit,

    as usual, and considering these “bombs” are not really dangerous (!), thanks for this useful milestone to improve relevance of posts. Information timelines are useful, but I must admit (as you probably mean), that they are:
    – quickly out of date (dna an principles of information…)
    – too much repetition oriented now: because of viral, easiness of reproduction, of “twittering it”, “stumble it”, digg it, etc
    – “oriented”, i mean coloured by the author, and sometimes far from the core of pure information

    and yes that means (what we probably all forgot), that blogging is really “writing” and bringing something, personalised (yes I read PNI as many…), useful – building the talk with others, and with a core subject
    and no blogging is not re-twitting or stealing other’s content…what we could sometimes see, unfortunately..

    all the best,
    L.

    Reply
  2. Rohit,

    Thanks for sharing this approach. I think you hit the nail on the head in regard to the long-term benefits of blogging – creating a pool of useful resources for your audience to discover, hopefully time and time again.

    One thing I’d add is that, for corporate blogs, using a similar strategy by creating posts that can be used ongoing by the sales team to share with prospects interested in the “why” behind a service or product can go a long way in establishing trust and expertise as well.

    @laurelmackenzie

    Reply
  3. Rohit,

    Good Marketing Strategy. We live in a world of instant communications and sometimes the need for instant gratification. Your strategy is not only effective, but the information is probably more useful to the users actually looking for it.

    Thanks for a good reminder

    Reply
  4. Rohit –
    I had never heard the term content “time bomb” used to describe the creation of topics that are timeless, but it works. If you look at most of the top bloggers out there, the thing they all have in common, no matter the niche, is the use of this technique. Thanks for expanding my blogging vocabulary!

    Reply
  5. Rohit, thanks for putting into words what I’ve instinctively tried to do periodically. As I share thoughts about marketing leadership, sometimes I’ll discuss “timeless” insights I get from great marketing leaders. The content isn’t “newsworthy” but it seems like it is worth sharing. Keywording these articles better is a great tip. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. I like your concept, though the term “time bomb” seems counter-intuitive. The more I blog, the more I relate to the age-old lessons of journalism. And in the journalism & PR realm, what you call “time bombs” are known instead as “evergreen” stories — things that have lasting value and aren’t dependent on a news hook. Somehow “time bomb” doesn’t suggest long-lasting value to me. Anyway, I think a good blog – like a good newspaper – should have a mix of evergreen “time bomb” posts and also current, newsworthy posts.

    Reply
  7. It is the old “farming” vs. “hunting” approach to marketing. With social media being instant, it creates a lure of going for the kill – the quick “retweet” or “like” and collecting loads of fans. It is the patient farmer who delivers the digital crops. I have been rescued many a time by a good “how to” blog post. Adding hyperlinks to and reviving older posts like you did here is also a neat technique.

    Reply
  8. This is really great. I’ve been working toward writing more trending topics but not just what’s going on at the very moment – trends that will pick up at a later time.

    Like you said, if you can create content which people can find at a later point, it gives you a lot of potential for it to go viral and spread like wildfire.

    An additional benefit is how it’ll build up in search engines in the meantime so when it does pick up, people can find it right away.

    Great post, lots of great thoughts 🙂

    Reply
  9. Rohit,

    As an author (SANCTION) and blogger (The SANCTION Blog), I find this article to be great information. I see even the “important” people blogging and tweeting a dozen times a day about their dog and who they had lunch with, but so little usable or rememberable content. Your discussion of making things important, searchable and long-term is so good.

    Thank.

    Jim Magwood
    Author of SANCTION

    Reply
  10. Great post… I know people that run blogs just for adsense and write posts that talk about a big movie coming out next summer, or maybe playoffs for different sports, just to get ranked for those terms.

    It is a great way to get traffic.

    Reply
  11. Great post. Something I believe in, for blogs especially, is using content to widen the variety of customers that you can bring to a website. Individual posts that can pull search phrases for a long time are the most valuable posts. I think this is well portrayed in the post you just made. Thanks for your efforts to educate me!

    Reply
  12. Great post indeed! And I haven’t finished reading yet 🙂

    It’s been almost one year since I found my way of writing a blog, and what you say here proved to be a great idea to start blogging in an interesting way.

    Reply
  13. Enjoyed this post! Time sensitive posts are crucial for gaining long term credibility and content longevity. Social media is moving so fast. The hottest tools or platforms today will be gone tomorrow. But if we create content on strategies versus tactics, we have a better chance in surviving in the Web 2.0 world.

    Reply

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Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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