Creative Subscription Strategies

The Biggest Content Analytics Trends in 2021

The data is in, and publishers have plenty to be optimistic about. Looking at the biggest content analytics trends in 2021, it’s clear that digital publishers and content creators are in for a banner year.

Coming off a year that was marked not just by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the Black Lives Matter movement and the presidential election, publishers have been under a tremendous amount of pressure. They’ve also felt the industry upheaval that’s come about thanks to Google’s evolving privacy updates and changes to the search engine algorithms.

With those factors in mind, the content analytics platform recently analyzed its 2020 data around referrals, engagement, and consumption patterns. The company’s data science team put together an updated report on the biggest content analytics trends in 2021. (Those who follow the industry closely might remember that was recently acquired by owner Automattic.) The data for’s new report comes from the company’s own network of thousands of websites.

Bottom line: Now is the time to get involved in online publishing, if you’re not already. Publications focused on health and politics content saw the most dramatic spikes in engagement and consumption last year, due in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic and the presidential election. As we head deeper into 2021, a number of additional verticals are ripe for expansion.

Growth Markets

Which specific verticals and content categories are expected to see the most growth in the coming year? found a number of areas of opportunity for forward-thinking publishers.

Content categories that with upward trends include:

  • Arts and entertainment
  • Automotive
  • Careers and education
  • Families and parenting
  • Food and drink
  • Science
  • Fashion
  • Technology

Even content categories that are currently in decline have the opportunity for growth in 2021, thanks to shifting consumer interests and audiences that indicate they are ready to build deeper connections with the publishers and brands they support.

Referral Sources

Where your traffic is coming from matters almost as much as what visitors are doing once they arrive at your website. Nearly every referral source analyzed by, including direct, internal, social, and search, saw a lift in traffic in March 2020. However, not all platforms benefited equally.

Despite the non-stop talk about social media marketing, saw social media referrals drop across all platforms in 2020. That decline lasted throughout the year, although things did begin to turn around in November and December. While Facebook was the dominant platform last year,’s researchers found that referrals on its platform declined compared to the year prior, as well.

If readers aren’t coming via social media, where are they coming from? The most important referral source for publishers right now is search. Google is the dominant platform, followed by Facebook.

Direct traffic has grown substantially, as well. With subscription sales surging, is predicting that readers will be even more loyal in 2021 and direct traffic will remain important for digital publishers.

Key Takeaways: 5 Big Content Analytics Trends in 2021

  1. Mobile traffic is double that of desktop for digital publishers, due in large part to the 40% increase in smartphone usage during the pandemic.
  2. Traffic coming from news aggregators is at an all-time high.
  3. Readership on blogs and news websites increases at 6 am and peaks in the mid-afternoon.
  4. Publishers should pay particular attention to LinkedIn and Pinterest in 2021.
  5. Format, responsiveness, and media-rich content all play a role in how readers interact with a publication on their mobile devices.

To learn more about how to grow your publication and build a sustainable media business, reach out to Web Publisher PRO.