Following The News Just Got A Whole Lot Easier


Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 2.36.44 PMFollowing the news that you care about shouldn’t be hard.

But we’ve all had that situation where we read a story that leaves us with questions and wanting us to know what’s next. Just recently, the two-week Ellen Pao sexual discrimination case roiled Silicon Valley, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would not seek re-election, and, in California, nearly everyone is concerned about the ongoing drought.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to a miss crucial update to a story, or to show up in the middle of a story and feel like you have been dumped into the Sea-of-Contextlessness.

Making it simpler for readers to follow the stories they care about is why we built the FollowUp button, which we are announcing today.

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Favorite Feature #14: Automatically Recommending Evergreen Stories


For sites with hundreds of posts, there’s a rich underlying content that isn’t out of date and still gives value to readers. These older stories are what we call Evergreens, since they keep giving value readers.

Contextly automatically identifies evergreen stories on our publishers’ sites and uses them as one of the recommendation strategies in the Explore section (we pair evergreens with personalization and popular). We’ve found that evergreens perform as well as or better than the popular sections.

Here’s one of my favorites from Make:, a post about how to cut wine bottles into drinking glasses with easy clean cuts. It’s from 2010 and readers still love it in 2015.

Make: Bottle Cutting

After it showed up in the Evergreen section of the Contextly reports continuously, Make: then added a new story updating the post with a way to make cutting bottles cleanly even easier.

The other great thing about evergreen stories is that they do change. We see stories, especially seasonal ones, bubble up and become relevant again.

Getting those in front of readers doesn’t just help readers; it helps publishers get the most from the work they do.

[For the month of November 2015, in honor of National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month #NaBloPoMo, I’ll be writing a post a day about a favorite Contextly feature. It’s a bit of a love letter and a bit of a how-to.]

If you want to try Contextly on your own WordPress site, you can download it from the WordPress plugin gallery or you want to learn about our custom CMS integration, drop us a line.

Favorite Feature #12: Integrated Video, Text and Product Recommendations

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 5.16.01 PMThere is video over there. There is text over yonder. And in the recommendation section never shall the two commingle.

Or at least that’s what it always feels like out on publisher’s websites.

We wanted to break down those silos, so we made it possible that text, video and even product recommendations could show up side-by-side in our recommendation modules. That’s just like the way chocolate and peanut butter play nicely in a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.

Call them integrated or blended recommendations.

So when a video is related to a story, we show the video in the Related recommendations. You can see that in the image above and the one below on a story from Make: about GoPro’s new drone.

Make Integrated Recommendations

We do this using the same technology that powers our text recommendations, using metadata and semantically important terms to figure out the relationship between various pieces of content.

You’ll also see videos and products in our Explore section, which uses 3 recommendation strategies: personalization, evergreen and popular.

We do also have standalone sections for videos and products, but videos and products should be first-class citizens.

[For the month of November 2015, in honor of National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month #NaBloPoMo, I’ll be writing a post a day about a favorite Contextly feature. It’s a bit of a love letter and a bit of a how-to.]

If you want to try Contextly on your own WordPress site, you can download it from the WordPress plugin gallery, or you want to learn about our custom CMS integration, drop us a line.

Favorite Feature #11: Adding Related Links Pointing to Another Site


The middle of the month deserves a sneaky feature, so here it goes: Here’s how you can add a second site to your curation search and have Contextly think it’s your default site.

Let me explain: say you wanted to choose related links for your own site: When you install Contextly, the default search site if you are choosing related links or creating a sidebar will be

But say you had a second site: And you wanted to link to a post from that site in your related section or a sidebar.

It’s a more common situation than you might imagine, and our solution is more graceful than you might suppose.

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Favorite Feature #10: Analytics Reports, Not a Dashboard

A Dashboard

Early on, we made a counter-intuitive decision. We were not going to build a dashboard. Instead, we would send a daily, weekly and monthly report to our publishers with info on how Contextly was working and other info about their sites.

It turned out the open rates were outstanding. Publishers began asking for more. How can we send this report to more of our staff? Can you include X feature?

We’d stumbled onto something right.

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Favorite Feature #9: Promoting Custom Content

Custom Motorcycle

Many publishers have posts and content they’d like to highlight from their site that aren’t necessarily.

Say around Thanksgiving, you might have Fall recipes you want to show off – or even content about how to survive extended family time.

Or if you have multiple sites, you might want to have one site recommending content from the other.

That’s where Contextly Custom feeds come in. You simply give us an RSS feed in the control panel, then specify what module or module section you want it to show up in.

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Favorite Feature #8: Not Having to Do Anything


So far in the November round-up of our favorite features, I’ve shown a few of my favorite editorial tools that we built to make writing faster, easier and more effective for building engagement and SEO. I wrote about our internal linking tool, the external linking one,in-story auto-sidebars and how-to choose related posts, and curated in-story sidebars.

While none of these take many clicks, there is clicking involved.

So Sunday’s favorite feature is about not having to do anything.

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Favorite Feature #7: Promoting What’s Valuable to You

The Promo Link Interface

One of the lessons we learned early on is that publishers have more than just content they want to recommend to readers. Publishers might have their sports writer talking every Tuesday at noon about Sunday’s game. Or have an email list they’d like folks to subscribe to.

Still others are companies doing content marketing to build their business and they have whitepapers they’d like to promote to blog readers. Others may be authors who would love to have a way to promote their book.

That’s why we built what we call Promo Links. Promo links are internal marketing recommendations that are shown to readers in reserved spots in our recommendation modules.

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Favorite Feature #6: Customizing the Main Recommendation Display

Main Module Controls

So far, our set of posts on our favorite features has largely focussed on editorial tools. Things like choosing links for SEO building; or cool sidebars that build engagement and lower the bounce rate.

For the Friday edition, I want to venture into the Control Panel. We spent a lot of time making the displays not only customizable, but easily customizable. We built some simple tools to let sites choose the order of the sections in the main module.

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Favorite Feature #5: Creating a Curated In-Story Sidebar

In-Story Sidebar from Modern Farmer

Adding a good looking sidebar to a blog post or story should not require handcrafting HTML.

You might however want to handcraft the content that goes into the sidebar – which is why we made it simple to create manual or curated sidebars.

A number of our clients make good use of them to build engagement. Take the one pictured above from Modern Farmer pointing readers to more about them apples.

So how did Modern Farmer make that sidebar?

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