The Enduring Value of Content Aggregation

Due to a ridiculously embarrassing snafu (check those passport expiration dates, kids!), I am NOT delivering a presentation in Mexico City this afternoon (ouch). While this situation sucks in myriad ways, it does give us the chance to consider why yesterday was the busiest day on e.politics since Election Night 2008. The answer: because the web rewards the GATHERING of good content at least as much as it rewards its production.

Most successful websites get that way either by producing good content and resources or by linking to good content and resources. Many — particularly blogs — do some of both, but plenty of widely read “content” sites (including Drudge) are almost entirely gatherers of links to outside articles. E.politics follows a mixed strategy, with more substantial pieces leavened with occasional link collections, some random (Quick Hits) and others targeted on a particular subject. Which leads us to yesterday, when a list of articles about the Obama campaign got twice as many page-views as the entire site usually gets in a day.

Some of the traffic was driven by links from other sites, particularly from techPresident (thanks, Nancy!) and from Twitter via Todd Zeigler and others, but many more visitors more came directly to the article — the fruits of posting the link to a couple of online discussion groups, plus of its spread among practitioners in the online politics field. I’d put the list together as a byproduct of preparing for Mexico City (again, ouch) and for an upcoming article series, and decided to publish it as a stand-alone piece in part because it was ready and in part because people had been asking for articles about the Obama campaign on those email lists I mentioned above.

It’s too early to tell whether the traffic spike will yield many long-term readers, though the @epolitics Twitter stream has definitely picked up some new followers. But it never hurts to have a bunch of new folks swing by in any case, and there’s no better way to attract them than good content. In this instance, a list of links to articles about the Obama campaign gathered almost by accident turned out to draw more overnight readers to the site than any essay or other piece of original content I’d written or posted in months. As Pooh said, you never can tell with bees.


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Colin Delany
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