Hustle on earthquake story brings traffic from search and social
October 16, 2012 by Steve Buttry
Hustle has always been important in journalism. Its importance has grown as news breaks quickly and search engines and social media bring traffic to the first media outlets to report a story.
Kaitlyn Yeager‘s hustle in quickly posting a story on tonight’s New England earthquake — and smartly making it easy for search engines to find it — brought more than 16,000 views to the story in just over the first couple hours.
After hearing about the swift success, I asked Kaitlyn, a member of the Digital First Media Connecticut breaking news team, to explain what she did and how. She responded in an email I have edited lightly:
Honestly, I think the biggest things were speed and search-engine optimization. Matt DeRienzo (DFM’s Connecticut Editor, who is from Maine, where the earthquake was centered) emailed that his Facebook friends were reporting it, and I clicked to Twitter and saw my feed blowing up.
I SMS’d to the Connecticut properties first, then posted a quick story to New Haven, Middletown and Torrington.
I used the headline “Magnitude 4.6 earthquake centered in Maine felt here in Connecticut.”
The story was just a sentence saying there was an earthquake, a link to the U.S. Geological Survey page, and an invitation for people to post in the comments whether or not they felt it.
The quake happened at 7:12 p.m., Matt emailed at 7:16 p.m., and our New Haven Register story was posted at 7:23 p.m.
Once I posted the story, I linked to it on Facebook, asking people if they felt it, and I tweeted a link to the story.
Looking at Omniture, in the top 10 keywords used to find our site, there were “earthquake maine,” “maine earthquake,” “earthquake,” “earthquake in maine,” “New England earthquake” (this one was probably helped because I said in the story that the quake was felt throughout New England), and “earthquake new England.” There are more earthquake keyword combos lower than the top 10.
As far as SEO goes, I think it helped that I had Maine in the headline before Connecticut, because the epicenter was in Maine, so that’s what people were searching for. I think it just got the right combination of words and the right timing to get a lot of search engine hits.
I’m now going to go through the comments we got and make a little Google Map or list or something outlining where the quake was felt, according to our commenters, to engage back with them now that they’ve engaged with us.
Earlier posts about Digital First journalists at work:
The York Daily Record’s Night News and Digital Desk — an updated copy desk
Pottstown Mercury’s wanted-poster-style Pinboard is resulting in arrests
Asking people to share memories: always a good idea on an anniversary
GatheringPoint and Geofeedia help you find social media by location
Denver Post staffers’ #theatershooting coverage demonstrates Twitter breaking news techniques
Geofeedia, slideshows, cleaning up and a snake
‘American Homecomings’ tells veterans’ stories nationwide
York Daily Record quiz helps voters pick candidates reflecting their views
York Daily Record’s ‘Finding Their Way Out’: an old-school digital journalism project
Trentonian’s best-bar tourndy heightens March Madness engagement
Coverage of deadly fire shows Daily Mail’s Digital First progress
What does an engagement editor do? Digital First editors answer
Michigan tornado coverage shows off Heritage journalists’ digital skills
Oakland Press collects community photos of children with a statue
Troy Record’s breaking news coverage drives Facebook discussion
An engaged reporter: no longer ‘just a fly on the wall’
Pottstown Mercury engages bloggers in community food drive
Facebook engagement tips: Use breaking news photos and calls to action
Jeff Edelstein uses Klout to reach people interested in his content
Valentine’s Day: a perfect opportunity for community engagement
Community internships: Oakland Press helps bloggers develop skills
Google+ Hangout helps with video interviews
Banjo app helped Andy Stettler find local tweets
Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson
Buffy Andrews’ tips for daily beat checks using HootSuite
Larry Altman’s account of live-tweeting a breaking news story
Examples of live-tweeting government meetings
A first try at live-tweeting from the courtroom
Romeo and Juliet on Facebook: great fun and community engagement
San Pedro landslide shows power of social media
Reach out through Facebook to gather information on tragic stories
Engagement opportunities: weather, elections, sports, school fun
Denver Post social media use delivers on mountain lion vs. kitty story
Opening our Journal Register newsrooms to the community
Include staff members’ usernames in tweets promoting your content
Crowdsourcing Hurricane Irene recovery map in Connecticut
JRC journalists use social media to cover earthquake and hurricane
Trentonian uses Google+ and other tools to cover apartment shooting