So, you’ve got a website. You update it consistently, you’ve adopted an online-first mentality, and, it looks pretty good, if you do say so yourself. You’re doing everything right– so why aren’t more people visiting your site?
The work doesn’t stop once you’ve launched your site. You’ve got to go the extra mile to get the traffic you want; after all, people can’t visit a site they don’t know about. So how do you get the buzz going? There are a few things you can try:
First, know that social media is key; it’s one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website, and can bring you a lot of new followers. If you don’t already have established social media accounts, you should definitely set them up; here are some tips from JEA Digital Media on how to get your social media sites up and running.
If you have an established social media presence for your publication, that’s excellent! Let’s talk about how you can use those social media sites to score some more site views.
Facebook is generally the top driver of traffic to school news sites, and by strategically posting your content here, you can significantly increase your traffic. It’s a great way to tease your stories, share relevant local and school news, and post pictures of your staff in action. You can also easily share your videos here, and Facebook’s extremely interactive commenting feature is a great way to interact with the readers of your publication.
Twitter is an excellent way to engage with your audience; replying to tweets, or retweeting relevant sports updates, announcements, or comments will get your readers more involved, and motivate them to visit your site regularly. Twitter is also a great way to establish yourself as the go-to source for all breaking news updates; the faster you are able to tweet out brief updates, or relay important announcements, your audience will start viewing you as the primary source for all school-related news. And don’t forget those hashtags– they can be a great way to ensure that your tweets are showing up in as many places as possible.
Snap some pics.
Instagram and Snapchat are great visual ways to draw people into your site. Instagram is the best platform to add the supplemental photos your staff has taken that maybe didn’t make it onto your site; and hey, if the photo’s you’re posting just happen to be one of many (the rest of which you can find online at (insert your URL here)!) that’s a pretty good way to drive people over to your site. Snapchat’s “story” feature is a great way to reach students, too; adding photos of articles posted on the site, or videos of sporting events and pep rallies; even adding the occasional fun video of your news staff “hard at work” is great advertisement.
And while we’re on the subject, advertisements can come in many shapes and sizes. Buttons? Stickers? T-shirts? Fliers? All great places to advertise your URL. Does your site have a custom logo? Spread that brand around the school like wildfire; print your logo on as many items of clothing you can. Make some lanyards, if you’ve got the budget for that sort of thing. Homemade products are great, too; posters, pins, hand-stitched pillowcases– if you can dream it, you can do it.
And, of course, keep your site updated! People won’t want to check your site if there isn’t new content, so make sure you’re keeping it fresh.
Add “fun” content amidst all of that hard-hitting journalism.
Try incorporating some lighter elements to your site, like a daily horoscope, or a weekly editorial or political cartoon. There are things that are commonly found in print papers, so why not take it online? Plus, they’re extremely easy to advertise via social media, and it’s a great way to draw in readers who may have never thought to check out your site in the first place. And chances are, once they’re on your site, they’ll stick around for a bit; especially if you’re utilizing the Side Rails template or therelated stories box. You can also keep an updated events calendar on your site– ideally, you’ll end up being the go-to site for all the school’s happenings, which will improve both your readership and your reliability.
No, really. Give them food. Block out a section of time in your computer lab or library for students to come in and “preview” the site…while earning some kind of sweet treat as a thank you. Sure, quite a few of them will only show up for the chocolate bars or donuts you’re handing out, but they’ll also have to at least glance over the site while they’re there.
Share that stuff.
Make your content shareable! Click the “show sharing buttons” on all of your stories before posting them– it’ll be much easier for your student body to spread the news that way, which will reach a broader audience, and take some of the work off of your hands. It’s a real win-win.
You can always check your site’s traffic by logging into Google Analytics; it’s a great way to gauge how many people are visiting your site, how they’re getting there, and what they’re looking at. If you don’t have access to google analytics, or you’ve forgotten how to access it entirely, just let us know.