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
Bare Minimum SEO: 3 Things You Must Do
by Eric Enge
Achievements: 2nd Most Tweeted Article (all Categories), 3rd Most Liked Article (all Categories), #Winner Most Tweeted SEO Story.
7 Time-Saving Google Analytics Custom Reports
by Eric Siu
Achievements: #Winner Most Commented Analytics Story, #Winner Most Read Analytics Story.
10 Old SEO Methods You Need to Stop
by Greg Habermann
Achievements: 3rd Most Plussed Article (all Categories), 3rd Most Discussed Article (all Categories), #Winner Most Liked SEO Story.
How to Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar
by Lisa Buyer
Achievements: #Winner Most Read Social 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.
Worldwide Social Media Usage Trends in 2012
by Christian Arno
Achievements: #Runnerup Most Tweeted Social Story.
23 Tips on How to A/B Test Like a Badass
by Eric Siu
Achievements: #Winner Most Tweeted Analytics 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.
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!