October traffic on my blog passed the record I set in April, totaling 32,725 views, more than 1,500 beyond the old record. I thought I’d share observations about what worked:
- Make content timely and useful. Changes to the Facebook news-feed algorithm are a concern for journalists managing social media for news brands, as visibility and engagement have dropped. I developed a webinar and blog post on practices that were resulting in strong engagement on Digital First Media Facebook pages. The post generated more than 5,800 views, becoming my seventh-most-viewed blog post ever. Social media have always driven traffic for this blog, usually from Twitter and Facebook. This post also got a boost from Slideshare, where slides from the webinar have been viewed more than 22,000 times and were featured by Slideshare.
- Post a lot. I posted 34 times in October. Lots of them didn’t get much traffic. But their accumulated traffic set the record. There’s no question in my experience that frequent posts boost traffic.
- Ethics posts boost traffic. My second-most-read post of the month (and the one with by far the most comments, 77) suggested that journalists stop using the term “alleged victims.” The post was already generating some discussion when it was featured on the WordPress Freshly Pressed blog (it’s on the third page now). New posts about Bob Steele’s Guiding Principles for the Journalist, my suggestions for updating the Guiding Principles and the #PoynterEthics discussion about updating them (plus some archived ethics post) generated another 1,500+ views.
- Guest posts share the load. Guest #twutorial posts by Menachem Wecker and Jaclyn Schiff, plus late-September posts by Alexis Grant and Deanna Utroske, generated more than 1,000 views with hardly any work on my part.
- Posts about Twitter remain popular. My #twutorial posts about promoting events, livetweeting funerals and getting started on Twitter combined for more than 1,000 views and earlier #twutorial posts (not including the guest posts) combined for another 1,000+.
- Blogging remains a popular topic. Turning an email exchange into a blog post, I explained what I see as differences between a blogger and a columnist, getting more than 1,000 views. (I’ve done this often before; if someone asks me a question about a journalism topic that I answer at some length, I’ll probably use my reply as the rough draft for a blog post.) That topic generated enough Twitter conversation that I Storified that for another 150 views.
- Speaking engagements do double duty. I was a keynote speaker for the Arizona Newspaper Association the final weekend of September. The blog version of that address got more than 1,000 views, most of them in October. In addition, my posts with slides and links from my programs for the New York AP meeting and the University of Colorado generated another 300+ views, modest traffic but an easy way to share my workshop materials.
- Clayton Christensen stirs interest. My post about Christensen and his latest advice to the news business was my 9th-most-read post of the month, with more than 500 views. I also republished a half-dozen blog posts from my Newspaper Next days at the American Press Institute. I got another 200 or so views from the related posts.
- Posts about Digital First journalists draw some interest. My 10th most-viewed post of October (500+ views) was one of two I wrote about my colleagues’ coverage of Superstorm Sandy. For some reason, the second post didn’t publish from Storify to my blog, so I mostly just promoted the Storify link, which got 150+ views. (I joined the Sandy coverage with a Storify about Sandy memes, which got 4,000+ views on Digital First sites not counted in my blog traffic.) Other posts about the work of my Digital First colleagues — about the York Daily Record’s Night News and Digital Desk, earthquake coverage, Facebook engagement success by a couple newsrooms, the Macomb Daily’s use of a drone and a late September post about the wanted-poster Pinboard of the Pottstown Mercury — drew more than 1,000 views combined.
- Paywalls remain a topic of interest. My response to a Dean Starkman post on CJR and a brief post curating some links about the New York Times paywall combined for more than 1,000 views.
- Post when you have something to say. Weekends and evenings are not the best times to post. But the Des Moines Register posted its endorsement of Mitt Romney on a Saturday evening (Sunday newspapers still being the place newspapers like to make big endorsements). I blogged about it late Saturday night and it didn’t do as well as a weekday post on the same topic might have. But, on the other hand, the post wouldn’t have been timely as a weekday post. The reaction to the Register’s post was immediate and I needed to post when the reaction was fresh. Even with lousy timing, it got nearly 500 views and was my 15th-most-viewed post of the month.
- Archives draw traffic through search and links. I try to write posts that will have lasting value and some of them continue to attract traffic long after I posted them. My top 10 posts this month included 2011 posts on writing leads and on different revenue sources for news organizations. In addition to the old posts about ethics and Twitter that I’ve already mentioned, hundreds of other old posts easily totaled more than 1,000 views, some drawing a few dozen, some just a few.
- The 5 W’s still draw search traffic. I have mentioned before in my monthly reviews that a post from April 2011 applying the 5 W’s to business took off in search traffic more than a year ago. It got only 344 views the month it debuted, but in August and September of 2011, it started drawing more than that each month in search traffic. After peaking at more than 900 in May, hits on that post dipped during the summer, but they topped 1,100 in both September and October. With more than 13,000 views, it’s my all-time most-viewed post. I’m presuming journalism students Google “the 5 W’s,” and I’m the third hit on the first page of search results. If that’s the case, that post probably isn’t that helpful. So last year I did a content-farmy thing, writing a post about the 5 W’s of writing for the web, which I thought would be more helpful for people searching the 5 W’s. After running about 100-200 hits a month, it topped 350 in both September and October (more back-to-school Googling?). It’s up to the third page of search results for “the 5 W’s.”
I’m pretty sure this self-indulgent post will be my least-read post of November. But I find some value in reviewing the blog’s performance monthly, so I do it.