Content Marketing is the buzz world for both SEOs, business and almost anyone involved in digital marketing but there are different parts to a successful content marketing strategy. One nifty plugin that has managed to keep a low profile considering it's features and publishers using it's platform is Contextly. This post covers my review of the Contextly platform and a interview with Ryan Singel the founder who has boot strapped the platform development and is bringing in revenue to support it's growth.What the product does?The platform seeks to help publishers and authors by increasing pages viewed per visit but also ensures your readers can be shown stories that are more relevant based on journalists insights than a computer algorithm can ever deliver. The plugin makes it quicker and easier to add in contextual links to your old posts, articles from trusted sources or from the web.The plugin adds 3 new buttons to your WordPress toolbar: Insert Link, Show Contextly Window (screenshot below), Add Contextly Sidebar into Post.The plugin has the ability to show a fully customisable widget at the bottom of your posts or select to add in a living sidebar to show off your best content. The idea behind their platform is to turn more one-off visitors into loyal readers by giving them your best posts and trusted articles in a simple widget.Similar platforms to ContextlyI asked Ryan for clarification around his platform and how it compares against Zemanta and Outbrain. The main difference seems to be that his platform is more designed for journalists and authors to encourage their readers to consumer more content. Outbrain is obviously a content marketing platform used to buy traffic to increase the number of views. Outbrain is a platform to buy in more visitors from other websites but has also experienced issues with low quality publishers using it's platform so have been aggressively removing spammers to improve the quality of their platform.Zemanta is a plugin designed to connect bloggers who are writing about similar topics to link to other bloggers articles, use their rich media and even suggestions text links to include within the posts. Zemanta is offered as a browser extension that supports all major browsers but also loads on any of the following blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad, Posterous, Moveable Type, Drupal) but also offers a downloadable server-side plugin (WordPress.org, Drupal, Moveable Type, Joomla 1.5).The limitations of the Zemanta platform is that does not have insights around the authority of the content recommendations, while they seem fairly accurate based on the blog you are writing still require more trust in their selections.
Links Widget & Design OptionsThere are two main options for Contextly one is the "read more box" and the other is the "living sidebar". The platform allows for control of most of the elements including basic features, layout for tabs but also custom CSS controls are allowed if you want to use them.Sidebar WidgetsThe sidebar widget has a limited controls on settings such as if you show thumbnails, thumbnail sizes and dates but also control over basic colour, fonts and font size. Sidebar widgets are designed to be simple and retain consistent design across your whole blog.A/B Testing on display functionsBecause the platform is design to improve reader engagement and articles viewed they have built in their own A/B testing platform that allows admins to quickly create a test based on a preset number of visitors. They suggest a figure of around 5 to 10% should be used for the A/B test and best practice should be that you are only changing one variable such as font or image size. The tests are quick and easy to setup and can be viewed from within the A/B testing dashboard.
Visual Reports on Authors instead of using Google AnalyticsOne of the big insights after speaking with Ryan was that his platform was focused on communicating what articles and authors were generating the most views but also clicks via the Contextly widgets. This was always possible manually within Google Analytics but often prove so difficult that publishers would use separate profiles or even accounts to track authors content accurately. These reports are emailed on a daily basis and can give insight to what thumbnails are also generating a higher CTR so authors could choose to update the image used for their posts based on past articles CTR. The task to optimise CTR based on image thumbnails is still a manual process, but hopefully it will be included in a future AB testing function.
Weekly profile statistics/insights on dashboardThe big benefit of any decent plugin is a simplified reporting dashboard and the screenshot below shows how simple it is to track how your articles are performing with Contextly.Add Trackable Links in PostThe platform also has the ability to use trackable links within the body of your blog posts, but I'm not currently using this function, but I would expect many people would find it valuable. Using Contextly Search TabsThe Search tabs are a great way if there are a number of common sites your reference or if you are part of a network of websites that you want to reference for suitable links to embed in your post. The search function is also suitable if your blog and your website sit on separate platforms and you need to include links from posts to specific products or pages. Plugin Download & Install InformationIt's currently invite only beta platform but if you contact Ryan you can apply to be onThe benefit for webmasters using Contextly is that it doesn't add more strain to your WordPress database as it is a SAAS platform. The plugin is available to download here and once installed you will need to authenticate via Twitter as most of the settings are handled outside of WordPress. You will also need to ensure you have added in your unique API so your website can communicate securely with Contextly servers. Contextly Pricing PlansLike most platforms Contextly offers a free trial for 30 days so you can test how awesome it truly is for improving your content marketing activities. It's great to see that they also have a special offer for non-profits and schools that want to use their platform.
- Personal Users - $19/month and suitable for websites upto 25k pageviews/month plus basic analytics
- Company Blogs - $49/month and suitable for websites upto 50k pageviews/month plus promotional posts and detailed social media analytics
- Premium Users - $99/month and suitable for websites upto 100k pageviews/month plus upto 5 websites
- Enterprise Users - POA and suitable for unilimted number of websites and millions of pageviews/month