Over the holiday period we will be counting down the top most read articles of 2012. It's always interesting to see what is the most popular content of the year.
But... Any content writer knows that it is impossible to predict what content themes and writing styles are going to resonate with their reader. It can be a struggle to broach new topics without continual feedback from both editors and readers.
Whether reading or writing, everyone has a sense of what constitutes "a great piece" but it is much harder to agree on how to measure popularity. For instance, Measuring popularity simply on pageviews excludes much of what makes writing really great. Namely, the attention game between the author and their audience.
So, by way of saying thanks to our contributors at Search Engine Watch (SEW) for all the great content they produced this year, I wanted to see if there could be a reasonable way of calculating reader feedback in order to define, "The Most Engaging Posts" of 2012.
Inspired by Richard Kirk's open performance review of the Performics SEO strategy, I set out to establish some benchmarks for successful content ideas in 2012 as a basis to award specific badges of honor for each article. The results of a thorough analysis are below.
SEW's 10 Most Engaging Posts of 2012:
Google Penguin Update: 5 Types of Link Issues Harming Some Affected Websites
by Danny Goodwin
Achievements: 1st Most Liked Article (all Categories), 2nd Most Discussed Article (all Categories), #Winner Most Read SEO Story
Social Media ROI: How To Define a Strategic Plan
by Angie Schottmuller
Achievements: 1st Most Discussed Article (all Categories), 2nd Most Plussed Article (all Categories), #Winner Most Commented Social Story.
Killer Landing Pages: 3 Examples of Landing Pages that Convert
by Erez Barak
Achievements: #Runnerup Most Tweeted Analytics Story.
Future of SEO: Change, Convergence, Collaboration
by Andy Betts
Achievements: 3rd Most Plussed Article (all Categories), 4th Most Discussed Article (all Categories), 4th Most Tweeted Article (all Categories), #Winner Most Plussed SEO Story.
The list below collates on-site and off-site achievements by category. To make the shortlist an article has to be among the Top 25 most read in a content category. Once in the shortlist, that article is put under scrutiny to assess the impact on SEW's community of readers.
For the purposes of this list, I set up the bracket so that contributors could only unlock one achievement per social network. Where you see #Winner there was a clear winner for that achievement and where you see #Runnerup that means a particularly popular article may have beaten the specific goal, but the #Runnerup trumps it by being the next eligible winner. This exemption enables the 'achievement' game mechanic to recognize exceptional differences between two writers and their pieces.
- Most Read: #Winner Google Launches Remarketing in Search in Beta by Ted Rooke
- Most Commented: #Winner Why Paid Search for B2B Companies is Dead (or Dying) by Uri Bar-Joseph
- Most Liked: #Winner A Very Revealing Look at Paid Facebook Ads by Suren Ter Saakov
- Most Plussed: #Winner Top 10 High Impact Google AdWords Innovations to Watch Now by Lisa Raehsler
- Most Tweeted: #Winner How to Make Call to Actions More Effective by Thi Thumasit
- Most Liked: #Runnerup Pinterest: An Introductory Guide for Marketers by Kaila Strong
- Most Plussed: #Winner Why Your Business Needs to Be on Google+ Now by Jason Cormier
- Most Liked: #Winner How to Prove the Value of SEO in 10 Minutes by Josh McCoy
- Most Plussed: #Runnerup Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics: What to Track by Sarah Carling
- Most Tweeted: #Runnerup 4 Critical Metrics You Won't Find in Google Analytics by Alex Cohen
- Most Read: #Winner Mobile Landing Page Optimization by Angie Schotmuller
- Most Commented: #Winner Search & Mobile Marketing Trends: SEO Apocalypse 2012 by Michael Martin
- Most Liked: #Winner 72% of Consumers Want Mobile-Friendly Sites: Google Research by Miranda Miller
- Most Plussed: #Runnerup Responsive Web Design: Introduction & Impact by John Lynch
- Most Tweeted: #Runnerup The New Mobile SEO Strategy by Ben Goodsell
- Most Read: #Winner How to Increase Your Local Business Facebook Reach in Minutes a Day by Miranda Miller
- Most Commented: #Winner 5 Reasons Small Business Should Love Local SEO by Adam Stetzer
- Most Liked: #Runnerup How to Use Google+ Local to Get New Customers by Jay Taylor
- Most Plussed: #Runnerup Link Building for Local Search by Julie Joyce
- Most Tweeted: #Runnerup How Local Small Businesses are Evolving Their Online Marketing Strategies by Tim Judd
- Most Read: #Winner Greatest Super Bowl Commercials Ever & 2012 Ad Preview by Greg Jarboe
- Most Commented: #Runnerup How Dollar Shave Club Got Their Sales Pitch in Front of 5 Million+ People by Kevin Gibbons
- Most Liked: #Runnerup 6 Ways You Can Put a Little "Gangnam Style" into Video Marketing by Alecsy Christensen
- Most Plussed: #Winner How to Implement Video Microdata for Google & Schema.org by Terry Van Horne
- Most Tweeted: #Runnerup YouTube Advertising Options for Budgets of All Sizes by Kalle Tompros
At a crude estimate SEW publishes over a thousand articles a year. To find the most engaging, they would have to be not only the most read posts, but also the most shared and discussed.
To get a better reflection of engagement I constructed a tournament composed of 3 brackets which measured different metrics.
Bracket 1: To get nominated for "The Shortlist" a story had feature in the top 25 most read stories of the year, per category. This measured overall popularity in terms of topic or theme.
Bracket 2: To make "The Shortlist" a top 25 story could win achievements in it's category in 5 "engagement" games:
SEW Reader Achievements (any number of articles per author)
- Most Read (top Google Analytics pageviews)
- Most Commented (top comment count)
Social Audience Achievements (one author per achievement)
- Most Liked (top Facebook Like count)
- Most Plussed (top Google +1 count)
- Most Tweeted (top Tweet count)
This measured overall popularity in terms of both on-site and off-site actions. In order to stop one author from potentially "owning" an entire category by having multiple a different articles win every engagement game, social sharing achievements were limited to one author per achievement per article per category. Therefore the #Runnerup achievement would be awarded to the next eligible author, to reflect exceptional engagement in a different social network.
Bracket 3: Articles which made the shortlist of possible achievements were then ranked according to total page views, to make the final list of, "10 Most Engaging Posts of 2012."
What The Game Stats Show
Essentially the tournament process ensures more achievements can be fairly awarded to more authors. The final list represents the ten most read articles among a set of exceptionally engaging articles in their class. You can decide which is your personal favorite but all are in some way worthy of being among the "Most Engaging Posts of 2012".
With that, all that remains for me to say is thanks to all our contributors this year for producing truly great content and thanks to all our readers for showing them you love it!
In anticipation of everyone winding down for the season, from Search Engine Watch, Mike Grehan, me, Danny Goodwin, and the entire team at Incisive Media, we wish you all a happy holiday!