Content Has 36 Hours To Live

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In a day and a half, that fresh news you posted on your site has become old news, and unlikely to be read by anybody online. The ongoing need to keep quality content flowing through your website has become more urgent.

Content Has 36 Hours To Live
Content Shelf Life Diminshes

Studies by statistical physicists in the United States and in Hungary have found that the readership of a particular article declines with time, the science site PhysicsWeb reported.

Although the study focused on news, and used a popular Hungarian web portal as its testing ground, the findings apply to those who design websites or write blogs. It also indicated how information may be moving through a social network.

The study reconstructed the browsing history of some 250,000 visitors to the portal. Cookie technology helped the scientists examine visitor activity over the course of a month to the portal site. They found that the half-life of a news document, where half of an item’s total readership has visited it, worked out to 36 hours.

Thirty-six hours may sound like a short period of time, but it is an encouraging bit of news. Previous research that depended on simpler exponential models held that time to be even shorter than the 36 hour frame found in the new research, the article noted.

Their findings make a good argument for syndication of content, whether through an opt-in email newsletter or via RSS feeds. The article noted that “the short life of a news item — combined with random visiting patterns of readers — implies that people could miss a significant fraction of news by not visiting the portal when a new document is first displayed.”

Syndication could make up for the random reading habits of Internet users. Since people visit sites on their schedules, and not necessarily that of the website and its updates. Placing information at their control could help maintain its exposure beyond the first day and a half.

It also builds the case for updating content on a regular basis. Each new bit of content will help bring in a rush of visitors during the initial release. That certainly won’t hurt conversion rates, and could even be a boon to them.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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